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Which Standalone Shopping Cart Solution Should I Use For My Ecommerce Store?

shopping cart solutions

Thinking of adopting a standalone shopping cart solution, we walk you through the options.

Standalone Shopping Cart Solution

The term standalone shopping carts means that it is an open source application that requires web hosting to function. Therefore, with a standalone shopping cart solution, you’ll have to purchase a hosting package and install WordPress. Non-hosted e-commerce requires you to install a platform for your e-commerce site which can be tricky for some people.

One of the benefits of selecting an open source e-commerce platform is that you’ll know exactly what you are getting. The most popular platforms are well documented and you or your developer can make any changes that you require. There is a great degree of control with non-hosted, standalone platforms. If you need additional features, you can either find plugins and extensions to add them, create them yourself of hire someone to build them for you.

With standalone shopping carts, you’re free to select your preferred hosting service. This means that you aren’t tied to a centralized service. You can move your store if you outgrow your provider or find a better deal somewhere else. While this sounds complicated, most hosts will walk you through the set up.

The Cons of Standalone Shopping Carts

  • They are harder to set up then the hosted shopping carts. You’ll have to find a hosting provider, select your shopping cart and go through the installation process.
  • With standalone shopping carts, there is no centralized support system if you need help or run into an error. You’ll need to become adept at reviewing the documentation and searching community resources to troubleshoot problems for yourself.
  • Costs can increase as your store begins to grow.

Selecting a Standalone Shopping Cart Solution

With the vast number of shopping cart solutions for e-commerce available, it is a tough question that has plagued many ecommerce store owners. There are just so many solutions out there! It is also important to remember that many of the top web hosting companies offer e-commerce tools and storefronts, so before you decide on a certain solution, you may want to check out your existing host’s capabilities.

In researching the shopping cart solutions, I decided to do some research and figure out which ones were the most popular. I thought I’d look into Google Trends to get an idea of which shopping carts had the greatest search volume.

shopping cart solution - google trends

From this chart, we can see that WooCommerce and Magento are neck in neck when it comes to popularity and in keyword searches. There are some key differences between WooCommerce and Magento that are worth exploring and considering. WooCommerce is technically a WordPress plugin.

Check out 30 of the best Ecommerce Plugins

WooCommerce

The WooCommerce plugin powers 30% of all online stores. It is part of the Automatic family of WordPress products. WooCommerce is best suited for people who are already comfortable using WordPress.

Shopping Cart Solution - WooCommerce

Pros:

  • WooCommerce has a team that will happily answer support questions through their help desk.
  • Offers choice and flexibility of templates
  • Advanced features and huge selections of extensions and plugins
  • Wide variety of both free and paid themes
  • Bundled with payment gateways … PayPal, BACS and Cash on Delivery.
  • Gives the option to offer free shipping or flat rate shipping.
  • Reports on incoming sales, inventory levels, and general performance.
  • Configure tax settings with local tax rates and tax classes.
  • Marketing campaigns such as discount options, limits, user restriction, etc.
  • Free plugin. All you have to do is download it and start adding products from your WordPress dashboard.
  • Comes with user reviews and ratings. Clients can easily vote every product by adding ratings to their comments.

Cons:

  • Even though WordPress is free, you will need hosting.
  • You still need to take care of the setup on your own. This involves downloading and installing the plugin on your WordPress site.

Magento

Magento is king of the custom carts – It is top, by far, according to Google Trends. It also powers over $50 billion in transactions per year. Some of Magento’s features are pretty impressive and will be helpful for your business. Most people agree that it is a more robust platform than WooCommerce, even though it may not be as easy to pick up.

Magento is recommended only to users with at least some basic level of web development experience. The platform can be a bit complicated for first-time e-commerce users. It may be more than needed for small operations, but is a perfect solution for professional businesses.

Shopping Cart Solution - Magento

Pros: 

  • Allows you to fully control how you deliver your customer experience, without limitations
  • Allows merchants to sell customizable products and digital goods online
  • Allows merchants to handle the complexities of B2B commerce
  • Ensures privacy and security for your site
  • Responsive structure (it is available on the iPhone, iPad, Android, and mobile HTML5 is pre-integrated).
  • Automated email marketing reminder.
  • Ability to create multiple wish lists.
  • Integrated content management system.
  • Polls and customer groups.
  • Supports expansion – Manage multiple stores, transacts in multiple countries, languages, currencies, and use several worldwide shipping providers, all within a single instance.
  • Lots of extensions to add additional features and capabilities.

Cons:

  • The layout isn’t very user-friendly. It can take many steps to customize the settings. The design has a classic old forum design.
  • The premium plan is hugely expensive.

shopping cart solution

Prestashop

Prestashop has some great features and benefits as well. PrestaShop is run by a commercial company that focuses on competing at the top. Their built-in features are impressive and cover all the necessary sales tools like cross selling, coupons, etc. Most importantly, Prestashop has many high-quality yet low priced plugins along with reasonably priced professional themes.

PrestaShops’ support for their product is great. They have localized support in almost every country. Many plugin descriptions are translated well across multiple languages. They provide a popular forum and also offer extensive documentation.

shopping cart solution - prestashop

Pros:

  • Feature set that is comparable to Magento.
  • Extensive documentation and support options.
  • A variety of free and low priced plugins and themes of excellent quality.
  • Affordable – Free to download
  • Highly customizable
  • Excellent support materials
  • Strong user community

Cons

  • Expensive customer support
  • Developer skills required
  • Limited integrations with the hosted version

OpenCart

OpenCart is a great standalone shopping market solution. It offers users more than 2,700 themes. It is used by over 500,000 ecommerce sites. OpenCart was created in Hong Kong, but the majority of its users are based in the United States. Therefore, OpenCart is multicurrency, multilingual, so it is perfect for stores that have a global market. It also offers more than 20 payment gateways as well as eight shipping methods.Shopping Cart solution - OpenCart

Pros:

  • Simple store setup – no need to mess with code at the start
  • Great performance and usability – lightweight e-commerce solution that reduces load time
  • Simple admin panel
  • Multi-store functionality – manage several stores from one admin panel.
  • Ability to manage single inventory for multiple stores
  • Free – OpenCart is an open source shopping cart.
  • High level of functionality.
  • 23 payment gateways
  • Advanced reporting system

Cons:

  • Not nearly as many features as Magento
  • Some basic functions, such as SEO, require plugins to deliver high performance.
  • Lack of provisioning for cashing. Users need to install an extension to implement caching and improve performance.
  • Simplicity and ease of OpenCart comes at the cost of customization. It is not easy to customize a store.
  • Not advised for stores that require more than a simple, generic and basic options.

OsCommerce

OsCommerce is a free ecommerce online store management software program. OsCommerce was the main ecommerce solution prior to Magento. It still offers some great features to the ecommerce store owner.
shopping cart solution - Oscommerce
Pros:

  • Many modules broaden the scope of customization.
  • Easy and flexible to administer.
  • Translate and localize into any language (multilingual)
  • Community forums for support and help

Cons:

  • The front end feels like a dated version of Amazon
  • Only 13,300 stores currently use this platform
  • Needs some major changes to compete in the modern ecommerce field.

Recommendation

Magento Magento Magento! You should definitely first check out Magento to see if it will meet you needs. Not only is it the most popular, it has the most options and flexibility to grow with you as your business grows. If you are great with WordPress, you should definitely be looking into setting up WooCommerce. If that doesn’t meet your needs, the next in line are osCommerce and Prestashop.

There you have it. Recommendations based on some objective comparison between solutions, rather than your cousin’s husband’s colleague’s testimony. Of course this is just a quick and dirty analysis, but I think they’re good enough to serve as a starting point.

Melinda Curle

Melinda is a blogger at Referral Candy. She loves learning about internet marketing and maintaining her own fitness blog. She enjoys running, swimming, dancing and Pilates.