When it comes to establishing an eCommerce business, you have two options for website software platforms to power your store: open source  or software as a service (or SaaS). Their key distinctions are in terms of capability and expense. Neither platform is objectively superior; which platform is ideal for you depends on your business demands and budget.

According to Statista, eCommerce retail sales will surpass $4.13 trillion USD in 2020 and will continue to rise. As online shopping grows in popularity, more and more organizations are looking for information on these two platform types, precisely what benefits they each provide and how they differ from one another. 

1. What Is Open Source?

Because its source code may be changed or edited, open source ecommerce software is strong and highly configurable. You purchase it (in some cases, software is free to use), install it, and host it on a server, either on the same premises as your business, from a hosting provider, or rented in the cloud from a corporation that provides that service. You get what you pay for, as with everything else: free versions are frequently pared down to the bones and may not include all of the functionality that you may require to run your business.

The main difference between open source ecommerce software and proprietary software is that you manage everything yourself—or pay a third-party provider to do so. As the saying goes, tremendous power comes with great responsibility. So, unless you have in-house developers/programmers, you'll most likely require the help of a development firm to construct and maintain your open source eCommerce website.

2. Top open source ecommerce

You've come to the correct spot if you're seeking for a cheap or free open source ecommerce platform. Technically, you may use any ecommerce platform, as the bulk of them are already rather affordable.

However, the open source ecommerce model has received a lot of praise from those who use it, especially since these online store systems are completely free, they're managed and developed by a large number of people all over the world, and there's usually a lot of documentation and blog posts to help you along the way.

When evaluating and selecting one of these ecommerce frameworks, it's critical to consider the sort of development experience you want.

2.1. Square Online

If you're not keen to get on the Wix premium plan bandwagon, you might want to give Square Online a shot.Square had basically existed for a long time as a flexible payment option. Until it chose to stretch its wings by establishing a multifaceted business environment. You may read our whole Square Online review here.

So far, many people are aware that Square is rapidly facilitating merchants dealing with physical companies such as restaurants, coffee shops, and so on. While this is mostly correct, Square has now expanded to become much more. In essence, the platform provides a plethora of advanced features as well as connectors that support not just physical and mortar companies but also ecommerce websites.

No, we're not only talking about digital payments. Instead, it is the full open source ecommerce software foundation. Square provides features for almost all important online shop tasks, such as inventory management and sales, as well as marketing and team collaboration.

Overall, the most notable feature here is the possibility to create a fully complete ecommerce website for free.You do not have to pay anything to create an internet store. Not even for hosting purposes. In fact, you don't need to know anything about coding to get started.

It's as simple as 1-2-3 to set up a free ecommerce website with Square. After you've chosen an excellent theme from the plethora of predesigned configurable choices, simply make a few changes and you're done!

Finally, you'll have a complete online retail experience. If the default features are insufficient, you can use Square's connections to connect your free ecommerce website to third-party apps for booking and scheduling, personnel and inventory management, accounting, and much more.

But that isn't all. If you have some coding skills under your sleeve, you may use the Square Connect API to create your own specific connections. Otherwise, free ecommerce sites can be linked to their equivalent physical brick and store counterparts. This functionality by itself is quite useful for efficient multi-store selling and product management.

Pros of Square Online

  • It is rather simple to set up a comprehensive ecommerce website. Simply download the online shop program, install it on your computer, and then use its simple drag-and-drop editor to create a one-of-a-kind website for free.

  • While creating ecommerce sites is technically free, the price structure that follows is easy and advantageous. When you begin selling, you effectively pay 2.9 percent + 30 percent, which is relatively affordable when compared to the typical transaction costs on other platforms.

  • With third-party app connectors, Square has an extremely diversified ecosystem. You may use this to add more ecommerce website capabilities. Alternatively, you may utilize the Square Connect API to create your own connections.

  • If you have a sizable social media following, you should think about expanding your ecommerce site to sell things on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. As a result, the complete inventory will be synchronized in real-time across all sales channels, allowing for more efficient administration.

  • Square is a comprehensive selling platform that allows for both online and offline sales.

Cons of Square Online

  • Although eliminating thorough underwriting from the start makes building ecommerce sites relatively simple, there is a catch. Square Online appears to be notorious for routinely withholding cash over transactions it deems dubious. The platform will continue to do so in order to safeguard itself against potential online fraud.

  • Square is only suitable for simple ecommerce websites. You may find it challenging to develop or maintain a sophisticated web business due to the simplicity of its functionality. That is only possible with a specific ecommerce platform such as WooCommerce.

  • Square's customer care mechanism is not totally dependable. Although it provides service via phone, social media, and email, it prefers to use the latter two. Furthermore, the platform has yet to provide live chat assistance.

2.2. WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that simply connects with your existing WordPress site, transforming it into a fully working WordPress e-commerce website in just a few clicks. In order to understand more about woocommerce please refer WORDPRESS MULTI VENDOR MARKETPLACE THEME or Create a unique platform to sell online or provide services to your customers please view WOOCOMMERCE DEVELOPMENT SERVICES

When the plugin was first released in 2011, it immediately became the go-to solution for people wishing to set up their own online businesses. Automattic (the proprietors of WordPress.com) purchased the plugin and its parent business in 2015, making it their largest acquisition to that point, and it has proceeded to develop rapidly in the years afterwards.

It presently powers over 99 percent of WordPress e-commerce websites in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom (Source: BuiltWith.com.). It's the driving power behind many e-commerce sites, with over 27,000,000 downloads and millions of active installations (Source: WordPress.org.)

WooCommerce comes with basic shop capabilities out of the box, and a free plugin is accessible via the Plugin Repository or directly from your WordPress dashboard. While it has hundreds of extensions available – more on that later! - it delivers some great abilities straight out of the box.

Pros of WooCommerce:

  • The plugin is completely free to download and install. Many retailers do not require anything other than the plugin.

  • It is linked to all major payment gateways. By default, you are provided with PayPal and Stripe, two of the most well-known payment gateways on the market. You may also take payments with Amazon Pay and PayFast open source ecommerce - payments on woocommerce.

  • Aside from adding content, you don't have to do anything with a WooCommerce theme. You may purchase a theme from the official WooCommerce store, or you can go to a third-party website like Themeforest, which has the largest repository of WooCommerce themes on the market.

  • WooCommerce storefront plugin is an open source ecommerce solution.

  • With the aid of the extension library, you may give coupons and discounts as well as add a variety of additional services.

  • WooCommerce is a fairly popular platform, therefore there is a lot of help accessible. It's worth mentioning that you should always make sure you're using the most recent version of the plugin before asking for assistance.

  • There are five alternatives in WooCommerce's help center that might assist you with the solution you need.

  • WooCommerce 101 - You may watch video content that explains the page you're looking at.

  • Help & Support — This section contains links to documentation, the WordPress.org forum, and the WooCommerce Help Desk, where you may send a request.

  • Found a bug? – If you find an issue, please report it to the WordPress team. You must give screenshots and provide a detailed explanation of what you discovered.

  • Education - WooCommerce has a number of partners who offer courses and training to clients.

  • Setup Wizard — This wizard brings you back to the beginning of the process of configuring WooCommerce pages, shipping, taxes, and payments.

Cons of WooCommerce

  • There are several additional costs, such as a WooCommerce theme, additional extensions, hosting, and a domain name. Although it claims to be free, a theme can cost more than $100, a domain can cost $30, and hosting can range from $4 per month to $5,000 for corporate websites.

  • WooCommerce has a lot of moving elements. On the surface, you'll need hosting, WordPress, and the WooCommerce plugin. This might be intimidating for beginners, especially when it comes to chores like SEO, security, hosting, and caching. If you are just starting out, there is a steep learning curve, which is why many newcomers choose something like Shopify.

  • For WooCommerce to be cost-effective, you will need some technical understanding and developer abilities. If you don't, you'll have to hire one of WooCommerce's 'WooExperts,' who charge hourly rates and project fees, which may be expensive.

2.3. CS-Cart Multi-Vendor

For starters, there's the "CS-Cart" platform, which is essentially the best open source shopping cart software with all of the necessary elements for setting up a standard online business. Then there's the CS-Cart Multi-Vendor platform, which is an ecommerce program that's a little different from its CS-Cart sister. This might be the best open source shopping cart for  you

CS-Cart Multi-Vendor, on the other hand, is not intended for online merchants looking to establish eCommerce shops. Rather, it is aimed at the major players (mainly companies) that want to develop markets. I'm referring to the creation of websites similar to eBay or Etsy, which often house a large number of businesses under one roof.

In brief, CS-Cart Multi-Vendor may assist you in creating your own marketplace, replete with the functionality that small merchants may require to develop their storefronts on your website.

The solution is self-hosted and includes an open-source ecommerce framework with over 500 ecommerce functionality, themes, and further connectors.

The issue is that CS-Cart Multi-Vendor is not totally free. In truth, there isn't much you'll get for free. CS-Cart Multi-Vendor goes so far as to provide you with a 15-day free trial, followed by a 30-day risk-free purchase term. That is, if you don't like their program, they will return your whole purchase price.

On the plus side, you won't have to pay for the service on a monthly basis. CS-Cart Multi-Vendor is available for a one-time fee of $1,450, $3,500, or $7,500. In the end, the price you pay is determined by the characteristics you choose.

But, in my opinion, it's well worth the money because it has everything you could want. It also has its own layout editor, as well as excellent SEO and marketing capabilities, an in-built content management system, a user-friendly admin panel, a responsive mobile-friendly framework, and interfaces with over 80 payment and shipping providers.

Pros of CS-Cart Multi-Vendor

  • CS-Cart Multi-Vendor is the most complete marketplace ecommerce platform available. It includes all of the functionality you'll need to set up and administer a virtual online mall. In addition, your merchants will receive the necessary storefront functionality and integrations. They may also choose from a variety of customisable themes for their online businesses.

  • CS-Cart Multi-Vendor is a self-hosted ecommerce platform that you purchase and install on your preferred server. Then you get to execute and manage all of the tools that arise from it. This leads to limitless versatility, especially given that it is an open-source ecommerce system.

  • CS-Cart Multi-Vendor is not a totally free open-source ecommerce platform, although it is available for a one-time fee. As a result, there are no monthly subscription issues.

  • The CS-Cart Multi-Vendor application comes with extensive documentation as well as video training. You should be able to troubleshoot any difficulties that arise along the road, as well as comprehend how the entire system functions.

  • CS-Cart Multi-Vendor appears to have focused on internet marketing. It includes a wide range of SEO and digital marketing solutions that vendors may use to build their company.

  • Security is another priority for the platform. Every year, it releases a slew of updates, some of which are feature enhancements and others that address security flaws. As a result, you are assured of having up-to-date security capabilities.

  • The main admin panel is attractively designed to provide a smooth user experience. The navigation is simple, and the menu selections are well grouped for easy access. As a result, learning the ropes here isn't difficult.

Cons of CS-Cart Multi-Vendor

  • CS-Cart Multi-Vendor is not a completely free and open-source ecommerce platform. Following a 15-day free trial period, you must purchase the program for at least $1,450. The other two bundles cost $3,500 and $7,500, respectively.

  • Because it is self-hosted, you will need to invest in a third-party hosting solution as well as a developer to put it up and maintain it.

  • While we appreciate the gesture, the money-back guarantee period is just 30 days long. Such a time frame may not be sufficient for a thorough examination of the CS-Cart Multi-Vendor features and capabilities.

  • Although the main admin panel is simple and straightforward to use, it's a different scenario when we get to the vendors' side. Their user interface may not be as straightforward as that of eBay or Amazon. As a result, they may require some time to become acquainted with the tools and functionalities.

2.4. Wix Ecommerce

I'm sure you've heard about it. Wix is without a doubt one of the most well-known cloud-based web store builders. You may read our in-depth Wix review. Although the majority of Wix's packages are expensive, it turns out that there is an additional option that you may use to create an excellent free website. The nicest part about this platform is that even free users may utilize its simple drag-and-drop website builder to create a whole site without coding. In fact, you should be able to create a simple free website in a matter of minutes.

The free plan is especially suitable for novices who want powerful tools for creating and hosting a basic business website. It provides access to a large number of customisable pre designed themes as well as additional icons, clip arts, and photos.

Then what do you do? You can also advertise your free company website using Wix's easy SEO and email marketing features, which are also free. You may combine it with a variety of other free Wix App Market applications to create a dynamic marketing framework.

And if you're worried about running out of space, don't worry: it'll take you a long time to use up the 500MBs of free site storage. The comparable bandwidth, on the other hand, extends to 1GB on a Wix-powered domain. In other words, the address of your free domain will be something like username.wixsite.com/site address.

But here's the catch. You still get safe site hosting, unlimited support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and automatic mobile optimization. As a result, your visitors will be able to surf easily from any device.

Unfortunately, Wix will flood your free website with advertisements. The only way to prevent this is to upgrade to one of the premium plans, which begin at $4.50 per month. And it comes with a slew of additional features like as a form builder, custom favicons, email campaigns, and so on.

However, actual ecommerce website capabilities are not available until you subscribe to the Wix eCommerce plan, which costs $16.50 per month. If you want more advanced online selling capabilities, you can scale up to the VIP plan, which costs $24.50 per month. This one is mostly designed for expanding ecommerce sites.

Pros of Wix Ecommerce

  • It offers a very easy and intuitive drag-and-drop website builder. Without any coding knowledge, you can build and configure a fully functional free website.

  • Although online shop features are not free, let us be honest and recognize that the bundles provide excellent value. For sophisticated ecommerce site functionality, you simply have to spend at least $16.50.

  • Wix offers a plethora of attractive site designs and layouts. They are all professionally designed for increased responsiveness and mobile optimization.

  • If you want to add functionality to your premium site, you may use a variety of applications from the large Wix App Market. At this level, some of the other ecommerce website options accessible include abandoned cart recovery, payment processors, global shipping suppliers, and much more.

  • When you sell online through your ecommerce website, Wix does not take a percentage of your sales. Payment processors are the only ones who will deduct their fair portion of transaction costs.

Cons of Wix Ecommerce

  • It is difficult to create a completely functional free open source ecommerce website. You can only start selling when you've upgraded to at least the $16.50 eCommerce package.

  • The free plan includes advertisements that may interfere with the general appearance of your site. As a result, the web pages will appear crowded and congested.

  • Wix does not make its underlying code available. As a result, you won't be able to fully customize your website. You're essentially restricted to what the themes and templates allow.

  • You cannot switch to a new website theme midway through the editing process after you begin working on one. You must restart from scratch.

2.5. nopCommerce

nopCommerce is yet another Russian-based ecommerce platform. However, unlike CS-Cart Multi-Vendor, it is a totally free open-source ecommerce platform designed specifically for online retailers.

If you're a developer, though, it goes without saying that the alternate source code version is superior. You are free to tweak it in any way you see fit. Alternatively, you might get the source code from GitHub.

Now, the ensuing installation procedure should be quick, especially if you choose the one-click installer. Large organizations, on the other hand, would most likely take longer since they require time to alter nopCommerce's underlying hood. Whatever path you take, you'll eventually find the benefits that have gained nopCommerce so many fans.

Once it's up and running, you'll find that it's designed to assist both novice merchants and seasoned ecommerce gurus. In other words, nopCommerce can serve all sorts of organizations, from startups and small businesses to medium-sized firms and major corporations.

Surprisingly, nopCommerce does not end there. It then goes on to provide marketplace connectors, thereby transforming your business into a virtual online mall, similar to CS-Cart Multi-Vendor. As a result, all of your suppliers' items are displayed together, with sales profits transferred to the appropriate merchant accounts. With that, you can learn more about the platform by reading our in-depth nopCommerce review.

Pros of nopCommerce

  • nopCommerce is an open-source ecommerce platform that is free to use. You will not spend anything to obtain and utilize it in the long run.

  • There are two major download methods for nopCommerce. Online merchants that are unfamiliar with programming can use the simpler one-click install version, which does not include the source code. Developers, on the other hand, may choose to use the source code version due to its considerable modification features.

  • nopCommerce includes all of the main elements required to set up a fully working online store. As a result, you should be able to sell various product and service categories, change SEO settings, control all ecommerce parameters, connect extra third-party applications, and remodel the underlying code.

  • nopCommerce can support several ecommerce stores from a single admin interface. You might even create a marketplace where small traders may sell their wares jointly.

  • nopCommerce is backed by a big, active community of developers from all over the world. They are always working to improve the platform in order to make it better, quicker, and more secure.

  • nopCommerce now has thousands of ready-made connectors. All of this is due to the efforts of many developers who have built interfaces with prominent shipping, payment, marketing, site development, and hosting solutions. As a result, you should be able to link your nopCommerce system to virtually any popular ecommerce solution straight away.

Cons of nopCommerce

  • nopCommerce is not an ecommerce platform that is suitable for all merchants. If you don't know CSS, HTML, MS SQL, or.NET programming, you could be better off with a simpler solution. nopCommerce is primarily aimed towards users who are familiar with Microsoft-based systems.

  • While installing the nopCommerce software is absolutely free, you may spend significant costs for development services, third-party add-ons, themes, site hosting, and an SSL certificate.

  • Customer service is really minimal. After you download and install nopCommerce, it is totally up to you to manage the platform and handle any difficulties that arise.

2.6. Magento Open Source

For good reason, Magento (see our review here) is one of the most popular open source ecommerce platforms. To begin with, it contains much more functions than you could ever hope to utilize. However, this opens up a plethora of possibilities for marketing to your clients and developing membership plans, recurring payments, and discounts. View more If you want to Сreate your own Magento multi-vendor e-commerce store like Amazon, eBay using MAGENTO MULTI VENDOR MARKETPLACE SOLUTION or uing MAGENTO DEVELOPMENT SERVICE to develoop your site. 

Do you want total control over the site's design and functionality? Consider Magento Open Source if the answer is a resounding yes. It's quite similar to WordPress in that the community is big, there are hundreds of thousands of themes to select from, and there are lots of extensions to get your hands on.

Pros of Magento

  • It's free, but there's a premium version if you want to enhance and scale your business.

  • With Magento, you virtually never need to hunt for an extension because the feature set is extensive and available right out of the box. This contains tools for conversion, like one-page checkout and order tracking, as well as features like discounts, sitemaps, and bulk import/export.

  • For automated marketing, you may send out product notifications to customers. Price notifications and back in stock announcements are examples of this.

  • Magento product notifications - the best open source ecommerce

  • The platform allows you to create distinct multilingual web pages that load based on the user's location. This is a fantastic feature for large or corporate retailers.

  • You may personalize the user interface and admin area, as well as your store, to make it stand out.

Cons of Magento:

  • Magento is feature-rich, yet this may make it clumsy and resource-intensive. As a result, you may need to dedicate a significant amount of money and time to optimization, as this may cause your site to slow down.

  • Although you can learn how to utilize Magento, you would only consider it if you have programming expertise. Larger firms are known to utilize Magento since they have the access and funds to hire a developer who is familiar with development code.

  • You are on your own in terms of customer care, as you have seen with the other solutions thus far. Magento is really good for Enterprise clients, as you can see above, therefore it can be pretty pricey when you include the fees for themes, hosting, and the domain.

 Sales systems nowadays have long progressed beyond the conventional collecting and management of orders. The present eCommerce market is evolving at a breakneck pace. Open source solutions are always a few steps behind those created by commercial enterprises in closed teams. In the case of Responsive Web Design and OmniChannel, this was the case. Waiting for a module to be available may result in the loss of clients to an online business since they will be interested in purchasing according to applicable standards at this time

Open source ecommerce software, such as Magento, WooCommerce, and Presta, is an excellent addition to the eCommerce sector. It caters to the demands of small and medium-sized businesses that have the skills and resources to establish a conventional shop on their own. Dedicated software, on the other hand, is worth considering when a firm wants to focus its efforts on generating sales and chooses to pay an external organization to handle support, hosting, and technical concerns. Implementation and ongoing development expenses may be significantly cheaper than in the case of open source shopping carts. Implementing bespoke solutions is especially important when the store's features go beyond ordinary ones and necessitate regular monitoring and rapid reaction to issues.

View more: 10 Best Ecommerce Platforms Compared & Rated For 2021