WooCommerce is the most popular free e-commerce solution nowadays. Built as a WordPress plugin, it is estimated that around 25% of online stores are based on WooCommerce.
Simplicity is the main advantage of WooCommerce, making it suitable for small businesses and startups. Installation is a one-click task, a getting started wizard is provided, and initial configuration (currencies, taxes, shipping, payment methods, and so forth) is very easy. Also, it has the same admin interface as WordPress and that interface is responsive by default.
However, although the WooCommerce basic features are free, there are many paid extensions that offer additional features. For example, if you want to integrate UPS shipping, import products from CSV files, or allow customers to create wishlists, be prepared for additional cost.
PHP Shopping Cart #2: Magento
Magento is one of the most powerful shopping cart software packages. However, it is less popular than WooCommerce due to its complexity. The installation itself requires some technical knowledge, as the files need to be uploaded manually and it requires a PHP extension that is not installed on all servers by default. Magento is highly customizable and almost all features that you can think of are out-of-the-box. Also, Magento is scalable and is the best e-commerce solution to consider if your business is growing or you already have a medium-sized business. Another thing to consider on the minus side is that it requires more server resources than some proprietary enterprise e-commerce solutions.
PHP Shopping Cart #3: OpenCart
Third place is reserved for OpenCart—a free open-source e-commerce solution that is used by around 7% of online stores. The main advantage of the OpenCart is its huge community—there are over 10 000 themes and plugins, as well as many helpful resources online. Some of the add-ons are commercial, but their price is significantly lower than is the case with WooCommerce or Magento. It does not require much server resources, meaning that a medium store could run even on shared hosting.
On the other hand, OpenCart is not easily scalable and maintainable, which may cause problems when your business starts growing and increases the development time and costs.
PHP Shopping Cart #4: PrestaShop
PrestaShop is a shopping cart software that is suitable for small businesses. Easy to install and use, PrestaShop has an intuitive admin interface and basic features required to run an online store. Also, it does not consume much server resources.
Bugs are the main disadvantage of PrestaShop. There are many bugs released into production versions, causing the developers to release updates often. Unfortunately, there updates are not automatic and require a significant level of technical knowledge and some time. Scalability is also another problem—PrestaShop's architechure sometimes makes it very difficult to scale for a larger number of users.
PHP Shopping Cart #5: ZenCart
Zen Cart supports most of the important options for a shopping cart, and also has a large number of free themes to choose from. However, it may be difficult to use for users with no web development knowledge. Extensions need to be installed manually, and the installation requires editing PHP files. Also, Zen Cart is not easy to maintain, scale, or update and any of these processes can cause a lot of troubles.
PHP Shopping Cart #6: osCommerce
osCommerce is a stable and safe solution with many features and extensions. It has around 5,000 extensions, and almost all of them are free. Also, the shopping cart's greatest strength is security. The admin login is blocked after three unsuccessful attempts, and you can also change the path to the admin folder.
However, all those extensions come without an installer. They must be added manually, which requires some programming knowledge and can take a while and cause bugs. Also, it does not have many different themes available.
PHP Shopping Cart #7: WP e-commerce
WP e-commerce is another WordPress shopping cart plug-in. However, it is not nearly as popular as WooCommerce. Although it is also easy to install and has an easy-to-use interface, it supports fewer features than WooCoommerce. However, some of these features are quite useful, such as improved checkout process and great payment processor integration. Also, it is the cheapest solution, when compared to other WordPress e-commerce plugins.
On the minus side, it has a smaller community and a lot of negative feedbacks on the WordPress website.
PHP Shopping Cart #8: VirtueMart
VirtueMart is a shopping cart component for Joomla. It was very popular in the past, but as Joomla lost many users to WordPress over time, VirtueMart’s popularity also dropped. Today, it is used on less than 2% of the online stores, which are probably the stores that decided to stick to the old software and not migrate. Right now, it is not actively developer maintained and has virtually no community, so it is advised not to use it in any new projects.
PHP Shopping Cart #9: CS-Cart
Developed by a company from Russia, this free open-source shopping cart is used by around 1% of online stores. It has a lot of useful features, such as content manager, one-page checkout, multi-vendor admin interface and built-in SEO and marketing tools. However, the free version has only some of the features, and buying a paid version can cost up to more than $1,000.
PHP Shopping Cart #10: Jigoshop
Jigoshop is an online shop based on WooCommerce. It is a WordPress plugin and is very easy to install and configure. Jigoshop also has many extensions and more than 30 customizable themes. However, that is still a small number compared to WooCommerce. The community and available documentation is also much smaller.