To help you decide, we will consider the features of a number of popular platforms that are most popular in the development of online stores. Some are paid engines and some are free (open source). In this article we will look at free CMS.

In addition to good prices, product range and a number of other factors, the quality of the technical implementation of the site is also affected by the success of the online store, the available functionality and the ability to fine-tune it.

A critical factor in ecommerce success is the choice of CMS. What to stop for: The simplest solution for quickly launching or deploying a complex and demanding online supermarket demand platform? Or maybe there is some optimal solution, the golden mean? It is easy to get lost in this diversity.

After launching and in the initial stages of developing your online business, it seems like the main thing is to get sales and get first customers. But once the sales flow becomes steady and the volume of merchandise and attendance begins to grow, you may face a number of technical limitations. Then comes the understanding that the right choice of CMS for online commerce is, in fact, far from the last turning point for the success of the project as a whole.

After a few months, it becomes clear that sales of the ceiling have been reached, and to move on, the range needs to be expanded. And to reach a new level of development and customer service – significantly improve technical functionality.

If you initially complete the wrong ecommerce script that is not ready to scale and load, this business owner’s task will cost a lot of money. At the same time, in some cases the implementation of the set objectives may be completely impossible. That means you have to start all over again.

The situation is similar if the self-written engine is used as a CMS for online commerce. Such development will by default cost several times more, even compared to the paid “box” system. No less expensive will be the cost of support, maintenance, permanent bug fixes, etc. In addition, in the case of modifications, you will often need to spend a budget to implement the capabilities available in the default systems by default.

I think you already understand why the wrong choice of a tech startup platform can prove to the business owner. This is what criteria should be followed when choosing a CMS for online commerce.

Design patterns.

This is the type of face of your online store, and therefore this issue must be given the highest priority. In many ways, trust in the seller also depends on it, as the prospective buyer evaluates the site, primarily from the visual side. The more paid and free themes available to choose from, the more opportunities you have to create an online store that looks exactly how you want it. It should be understood that the same adaptive design has already become a necessity.

Catalog and card of goods.

These are the most important components of online commerce and should therefore be prioritized when analyzing engines for future use. Adding products must be easy, and managing your product catalog is flexible and easy to understand. It should be possible to adjust different attributes, infer additional features such as discounts, etc. Here’s an example of what a quality product page looks like:

The bad thing about the product catalog is the need to pay attention to the ability to control the list of goods and sort them using different filters. For example, it can be sorted by price, date of receipt, different technical characteristics. This kind of user functionality is especially in demand.

Delivery and payment methods.

Different people have different preferences, and what is convenient for one person will be inconvenient for another. Otherwise, the online store owner must provide his customers with a choice between different shipping and payment options. For example, a resident of a big city will approach the method using courier and cash, but the backlog customer will give preference to mail and cash on delivery. You also need to think of such an option as a final recalculation of the purchase price in a basket, considering the shipping price. The client needs to see how much they will pay after the fact.

Expanded options.

In addition to the points above, the functionality of an online commerce engine can include a very large list of perspectives. Of course, not all are critically important, but some directly affect usability, conversion, and other factors on which profit depends. These include the removal of related and recently viewed products, sales hits and novelties, the formation of a product set, managing orders and customer information, wishlist, flexible discounts, etc.

Maintenance costs.

This point usually remains invisible until the business owner is confronted with the negative aspects associated with it. Whether you use paid CMS for online commerce or open source, you will need to implement various additional features sooner or later. And their costs may vary depending on the engine. Usually, for a popular system with quality architecture, not only is it easier to find an expert, but the cost of the work will be more affordable, as the market dictates.

Free online shopping platforms

There are very few CMSs available for online commerce. At the same time, some of them are already outdated, both morally and technologically, and some are not even supported by the developers themselves. Otherwise, we decided to consider the characteristics of those in the top three

Despite the fact that system developers are backed by the promised functionality, technical support, and other buns, open source CMS for online commerce is equally popular. The fact is that many of their functional offerings, which cover 90% of the needs of a typical online store, and refinement in most cases of an individual nature, are fully handled by web agency professionals. In this case, there is not much use of the modules available in the base assembly. The most popular free engines for online stores are Magento, PrestaShop and Opencart.


One of the most popular CMS for online stores in the US and other western markets. One of the main advantages of Magento is the large number of possible templates, add-ons and other extensions that greatly simplify the addition of new functionality. True, most of them were paid.

Features of Magento:

  • Developed platform with great functionality and extensive customization capabilities;
  • A large number of extensions available on the market, both paid and free;
  • The scalability potential lets you not be afraid of potential problems when developing an online store in the future;
  • For high performance and speed you need a dedicated server.


An open source CMS that, due to its flexibility, is actively used in the development of online stores of various levels. Currently, the creators of PrestaShop have integrated into the system more than 300 functions to solve various business tasks. Almost everything you need is already available for free, and non-standard individual needs are addressed through third-party extensions or additional work.

This engine is European development and according to Wikipedia the number of stores on this CMS has exceeded 250 thousand!

Features of PrestaShop:

  • A large number of built-in features, which is more than enough for most online stores;
  • Lots of modern design templates, tailored for use on mobile devices, most of which are high quality;
  • Great speed even with a large product catalog with tens of thousands of products;
  • Scalable from a small online store to a large online supermarket;
  • The cost of some modules is higher than average (60-70 euros), so in some cases it is more cost-effective to order modifications than to buy a finished solution.

PrestaShop is very suitable for those online shop owners who want a project for themselves, with wide basic functionality, modern layout and flexible management.


One of the simplest engines for managing online stores. The main factor is the ease of mastering the dashboard, the ease of adding and managing goods. True, the disadvantages of OpenCart. Ease of movement represents the costs associated with the need to constantly complete and correct mistakes. Web agencies specialize in e-commerce solution, fast web design, web site design and web store development on various CMS platforms, development of individual software, services, etc. It can help you with ongoing tasks and improvements.

Features of OpenCart:

  • Ease of management of online commerce by users;
  • Lots of extras, both paid and free;
  • The system itself is simple and “lightweight”, it will work seamlessly on virtual hosting;
  • Low cost of extra work because there are many experts working with this system;
  • Design templates usually adapt to a particular engine version;
  • The large number of duplicate pages generated by the engine is one of its major drawbacks.

Generally, this option is only for small and limited in terms of functional sites. If you need to develop an online store that runs OpenCart, it will require a lot of refinement, and complexity of scaling will be a key issue.

Which CMS for Online Commerce is Better?

Generally, each engine is good in its own way, and when selecting it should be upgraded to the specific requirements of your business. The specifics of trade, available resources and the planned development strategy should be taken into account. Otherwise, a wrong initial choice will result in a waste of time and money in the future.

The peculiarity of working with a free CMS is that if you want you can download and install any open-source engine to try it out. But a person without the proper technical competencies to select an engine for online commerce will not be easy. Otherwise, if you have such questions and do not know where to stop, contact the experts of web agencies and they will certainly help you to make the right decision.

Source by Sam Stayer




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