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Which eCommerce system is right?

There are many open source e-commerce systems available to web developers and designers. Some have great support, whilst others are meant to stand alone.

Which one will suit your business and your customers?

osCommerce / Zen Cart

osCommerce and Zen Cart were one and the same thing. However recently Zen Cart split off and now does its own thing.

What is less appealing?

  • The manual Credit Card payment is not PCI Compliant and should be used for testing only.
  • Image thumbnails are in fact full size images reduced for display which impacts bandwidth.
  • The main cause of stress, however, is that almost all of the add-ons and additions, which you will almost certainly need, have to be coded in manually.

The good bits;

  • There are MASSES of options to tweak, improve and add to your site
  • There is support for MIGS, which is used here in Australia
  • The basic additions are relatively easy to add on, if time consuming. Most of the seriously offputting issues are taken care of by contributions from the community
  • Its very lightweight and fast. A full installation, with images, can compact down into less than 10MB


If osCommerce is an old sea dog, then Magento is speed boat racer. It is slick, good looking and improving every day.

What is less appealing?

  • MIGS is unsupported at this stage, which can be a big drawback for Australian retailers
  • The community is not as strong as other open source software, and there are few help files available

What works well?

  • Very slick inside and out
  • Module installation is as automatic as you would want
  • A good range of addons and plugins

WordPress and WP-eCommerce

WordPress has started to become all things to all people, which is a good thing and a bad thing. The once humble blogging systems has been tweaking and hacked apart and now can pretty much be used as anything.

What is less appealing?

  • CSS coding for the shopping cart is completely seperate from the blog itself.
  • There is little or no support for multiple currencies, languages etc
  • Recent security vulnerabilities have been exposed

What works well?

  • SEO comes easily
  • You can have a blog with a shop attatched, which is content gold!
  • So easy to set up

There are more open source shopping carts out there, and over time we will probably assess them too. For now, however, the three/four above are probably the best for most situations, and are well worth taking a look at.

What do you think?

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Robert Steers

Robert Steers

Robert Steers is the CEO of Creative Development, a marketing agency based in Sydney. Creative Development has worked with global brands such as United Colors of Benetton, Jeep and Johns Manville to build marketing campaigns all over the world. Creative Development regularly takes on marketing campaigns through the entire range of execution, from conception, to delivery, to monitoring, to follow-up. Within the last three years it's helped grow many businesses.

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