Best shopping cart software
If you've started a small business online, your website hosting provider may offer free shopping cart software as part of your subscription. While this is suitable for a small startup, as your company grows you may find you need a more powerful software solution.
Specifically, not all basic shopping cart software may work with your chosen merchant payment gateway. You might also want to customize the overall look and feel of your customers' shopping experience, and not be frustrated by gaudy, basic templates.
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In this guide you will discover six of the very best shopping cart software solutions available today. These range from open source products like Magento which allow you granular control over every aspect of your store, to "plug and play" solutions like Shopify which can be installed without any coding knowledge.
We considered features, costs, user experiences and professional reviews in determining our recommendations. All of the paid solutions we explore here offer a free trial to help you decide whether or not they work for your business.
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A versatile shopping cart solution
Shopaccino offers some of the most versatile shopping cart software available today. The range of payment methods available is astounding and includes VISA, Mastercard, PayPal, COD (Cash on Delivery), and bank transfer. The excellent interface can also automatically calculate tax on transactions.
Shopaccino has an integrated module for managing shipping, which allows you to set the areas where your store can deliver and manage postage costs. If your online shop offers free shipping, the module can implement this too. Customers can also create a virtual 'Wishlist' for products they may want in the future.
The store interface has been praised for its simplicity, allowing merchants to upload images and product information. There are even Android and iOS versions of the software to allow you to manage products on the fly. Shopaccino also offers online support from their friendly admin team.
The software is free to try for 30 days, after which you must subscribe. Shopaccino's basic package is the 'Starter' tier that costs $20 (about £16) monthly. Basic users are limited to 150 products, a single currency (e.g. USD), and cannot use their own merchant payment gateway.
The 'Professional' package which costs $60 (about £47) monthly overcomes these limitations as you can have up to 10,000 products, and even throws in a free domain to boot.
The easy to add shopping cart solution
Ecwid promises to be the easy to add shopping cart solution that’s “as simple as adding a YouTube video.” It is designed to be added to a variety of platforms, including WordPress, Weebly, Instagram and Facebook sites. It’s quite popular with over 1.5 million sellers in 175 countries.
Ecwid supports over 50 languages, and interfaces with in excess of 40 payment gateways. This solution offers a high level of security, and the company boasts that it’s: “A PCI DSS validated Level 1 Service Provider which is the gold standard for e-commerce solutions worldwide.” Powered by Amazon Web Services, it’s also designed to be optimized for mobile platforms, including smartphones.
Notably, Ecwid offers a free tier that can host up to 10 products, which is ideal to get started and test the e-commerce waters. It also offers multiple paid tiers, starting at the ‘Venture’ level, which for a monthly price of $15 (about £12) can host 100 products, and adds access to the Facebook Shop, advanced SEO tools, selling digital goods, and offers mobile point-of-sale.
A fast and easy to use platform if you are in the right country
Shopify is based in Ontario, Canada. The initial company concept came from two young men looking to sell their snowboards online. Dissatisfied with the options on offer at the time, Shopify was born. The platform has widely been praised for being code free and indeed requires no knowledge of website coding whatsoever to setup and use.
Shopify accepts all major credit cards and provides a fast checkout procedure via its very own Shopify Pay or by Apple Pay. Should you have your own payment gateway Shopify works seamlessly with over 100 of the major players such as Sage Payments and PayPal. You may prefer to stay with Shopify payments however, as they charge 0% on transaction fees and claim to have lower credit card costs than the industry average.
An entry-level subscription to Shopify costs $29 (about £23) per month. There's an additional fee of 2% for use of other payment gateways. The software is currently available in the US, Puerto Rico, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Ireland. Basic subscribers can upload any number of products but Shopify only allows two staff accounts for store management.
More advanced features such as gift cards are only available to 'Advanced' subscribers. The firm also offers a Facebook focused 'Shopify Lite' subscription for an affordable $9 (about £7) per month, but it is purpose-built to sell products on Facebook, and chat with customers on Messenger, so it will only appeal to those types of businesses.
Extremely customizable but expensive software
Zoey was originally conceived as a fork of the open source shopping software Magento but now exists as a separate project. Unlike her big brother, Zoey is much easier to implement and now special coding knowledge is required.
As it was created by an American company the software has a US focus an integrates flawlessly with over 30 major American payment gateways such as PayPal and Amazon payments.
Zoey has excellent features which can be expanded further by installing add-ons via the dedicated marketplace. There are over 170 extensions ranging from an add-on for GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) management, Barclaycard, SagePay and Google Shopping integration and even a plug-in for MailChimp.
There's a free 14-day trial but after this the software can become expensive. Entry level subscriptions begin at $299 (about £235) per month. This includes two staff accounts, support for up to five customer groups, as well as 25,000 unique products. There's also a simple quick order form. Entry packs only support a single currency and language e.g. USD & English.
According to online reviews it's sometimes difficult to receive Tech support from the Zoey team. There's no live chat or helpline. Support is provided to those who create tickets during normal business hours.
The ultimate solution for hardcore programmers
Magento is a FOS (Free and Open Source) software solution for managing all aspects of virtual shopping carts. It's currently used in some shape or form by nearly ¼ of a million merchants including big name companies like Nike, Cisco Systems and Ford. Magento was originally developed in 2007 and the platform was purchased in 2011 by eBay/X.commerce.
The benefit of being open source is that Magento supports a huge number of features and can be customized to your individual store's needs. The software supports accepting manual payment solutions such as checks and money orders out of the box. It's also pre-configured to work with a number of major payment gateways such as PayPal, SagePay and Authorize.net.
Unlike the other solutions reviewed so far Magento can be hosted on your organizations own server meaning you're no longer dependent on a third party for shopping cart solutions. This does mean however that you are responsible for keeping your server secure for instance by registering and installing SSL Certificates.
The Magento website clearly states that the software is not for beginners and that those with no coding experience should visit their partner site Zoey for a quick and easy setup. As open source software there are no funds to support a dedicated, chat, email or phone support service. Confused users can find help nevertheless through the dedicated community portal. This includes a friendly forum where you can post queries, detailed documentation and even the option to register for a Magento training course, which is a must for those who want to use the platform seriously.
When life gives you lemons make them fit your needs
Lemonade stands typify America in much the same way as baseball and warm apple pie. It may come as a surprise to find that LemonStand is in fact Canadian. The platform was founded in 2010 and the project website claims that LemonStand is used by merchants in over 20 countries.
While this is dwarfed by the other shopping cart solutions we've reviewed, LemonStand makes up for this by being highly customizable. Virtually every pixel of the checkout can be customized using FOS's themes. Users can create an unlimited number of specific products from tangible goods to digital downloads. LemonStand is constantly being updated. The latest version supports over 95 payment gateways in over 100 countries including Big League names like Amazon Pay, Braintree and PayPal.
Starter subscriptions weigh in at a respectable $19 (about £15) per month. Subscribers are limited to 75 orders every 30 days and support is provided by email only. If you exceed your order quota, you're automatically moved up to the next paid tier, which is ‘Growth’ that costs $69 (about £54) per month, and will cover up to 300 orders in a month.
LemonStand offers a free 14-day trial to help you decide if it's for you. The intuitive dashboard provides step by step instructions and the main website also has excellent documentation.
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