From a number of open source eCommerce platforms, I cut down the choices to Magento Commerce, OpenCart, and Prestashop which you can develop to meet your needs. I recommend this three website software because they have complete features, evolved consistently, and followed the trend of internet development. But the questions that might come to your head are which one of them to choose or which is the best platform that meets your online store requirements and eCommerce strategies.
The answers to those questions are not simple but must be adjusted to the objectives, scenarios, and the resources of each prospective online seller. Magento Commerce isn’t level with OpenCart and Prestashop. In other words, the target market of Magento is different. Whereas OpenCart and PrestaShop are both on the same level, which makes fierce competition between the two open source eCommerce platform.
Other Open Source ECommerce Platforms are Ruled Out, Why?
Before we discuss further choosing among Magento vs Openchart vs PrestaShop, firstly, you can read the reasons why other eCommerce platforms other than the three are ruled out.
Yes, it’s an Open Source CMS platform and WordPress is a great choice to create a blog for publishing web content. When it comes to using WordPress to sell online, it only meets the publication features. While other features such as the shopping cart and checkout are not included in plain WordPress. Although, we need to use additional plug-ins to add those eCommerce functions. But it would not be optimal because most of WordPress plugins aren’t developed together with WordPress as a whole.
The main reason why CubeCart is ruled out here is that its free version is far inferior to its paid version, including the rarity of the SEF URLs feature. It looks like that the free version of CubeCart is used to angle potential customers to try CubeCart’s paid features that are more feature-rich and for getting support from the CubeCart’s development team.
Actually, Quick.Cart makes a pretty good balance between eCommerce functions and Content Management functions. With that, you can fill out products and news content equally in your online store. However, there are at least two major drawbacks of Quick.Cart: The free version of Quick.Cart does not support SEF URLs and uses a file system to store data.
SEF URLs are an important factor in the long-run marketing of an online store. Online stores at one stage must be involved in selling links, which represent products sold. If your online store links are widely known through search engines like Google and Bing, or any of the links are referenced by other sites, prospective new customers will come through search engines or referral sites. The role of the SEF URLs here is important enough to make your links more friendly to search engines and easier to be referred by other sites.
The use of a file system to store data affects the amount of data that can be processed with an ideal access speed. A database such as MySQL is made to solve problems faced by file system storage. By choosing a file system, Quick.Cart has problems related to the use of the file system for data storage.
Zen Cart inherits most of the characteristics of osCommerce because Zen Cart is a developed version of osCommerce in 2003. Although its features exceed osCommerce, until now, the native Zen Cart has not supported the SEF URLs feature yet. Moreover, the initial configuration of Zen Cart shows the screen and functions that look quite complex for novice online sellers.
Recently, osCommerce supports SEF URLs feature. However, the main disadvantage of osCommerce lies its look that is not easily configured with the template. To change the appearance of osCommerce, you need to replace some of the original osCommerce files with your own modified files. So, coding skills are required for osCommerece customization.
Note: Until now, I have not reviewed VirtueMart yet, another eCommerce software that is quite popular today. Therefore, eCommerce platforms comparison here excludes VirtueMart.
Magento Commerce is the most complete and flexible open source eCommerce software so far. Besides, Magento Commerce is also supported by Irubin Consulting/Varien, as an international company that provides eCommerce implementation services with Magento Commerce, at the enterprise level. With this support, the development of eCommerce at the enterprise level can be handled by the expert.
As an eCommerce software prepared for enterprise-level companies, Magento Commerce has quite heavy requirements. The amount of hard disk space needed, the amount of memory used, and CPU requirements when running Magento Commerce, above the average of other open source eCommerce platforms. This can be considered as a limitation for prospective online sellers whose with a mediocre budget.
Magento Commerce would be very appropriate if you use your own server, or at least you have a VPS server where you have full control over the server resources. Using shared hosting is also possible to run Magento Commerce. But as Magento Commerce’s requirements are quite heavy, you mostly need to communicate the use of the Magento Commerce to the web hosting service provider. You need to convey all the potential risks from using Magento Commerce, especially the use of server resources, in order to avoid misunderstanding in the future.
Magento Commerce is a fairly complex eCommerce platform and takes time to understand it. If your background is a web developer who knows more about servers, software, especially programming languages and coding, Magento Commerce might be interesting enough for you to learn how to develop an eCommerce website. However, if your focus is only selling online, you need to entrust the development to coders who understand how to develop Magento Commerce.
Magento Commerce is also suitable for creating virtual malls. With its compatibility to build many types of online stores with just one installation, Magento Commerce can be used to run different styles of multi-vendors which are incorporated in one domain. So it looks like a mall, it’s just a virtual form, or only exists in cyberspace, which is represented by the domain name and its subdomain.
OpenCart vs Prestashop
Both OpenCart and PrestaShop have quite complete features. Both are lightweight and can be installed without difficulty in a shared hosting environment. And they are quite easy to learn. These two open source eCommerce platforms are competing quite tightly to reach customers who are interested in using the free open source eCommerce software.
OpenCart was developed by Englishman while Prestashop was developed in France. The rigid yet solid characteristics of an Englishman are indeed seen in OpenCart. Likewise, the characteristics of the French people who emphasize the aesthetics look at Prestashop. Therefore, from the appearance of PrestaShop, it looks more attractive compared to OpenCart.
The following two images show the front page of an online store created with OpenCart and Prestashop. The following image shows the front page of the OpenCart online store:
While the following picture shows the front page of the Prestashop online store:
In terms of features, Prestashop is also still slightly superior compared to OpenCart. The following features, currently only in Prestashop:
- Featured products
- Distinguish between suppliers and brands
- There are groupings on additional product attributes
- Product tags
- Product attachments (best for electronic brochures)
- A feature to return
- A gift feature
In terms of features and appearance, Prestashop is more superior. Meaning that the choice must fall to Prestashop compared to OpenCart. But before deciding to choose Prestashop, I will first review the SEF URLs feature between Openchart vs Prestashop.
SEF URLs on OpenCart and Prestashop
OpenCart gives us freedom as online store owners to define the SEF URLs as desired. For example, your product is called Samsung Galaxy, so you can have a SEF URL that implies the same as the product name on the page, which is samsung-galaxy. But you are also free to define the URL of each of your products in other words that might add additional information to the product URL, such as the cheap-samsung-galaxy-smartphone.
PrestaShop also gives you the freedom to determine the SEF of your product URL by its product name. However, the SEF URL must contain the ID of the product. So, take for example the ID of your Samsung Galaxy Note product is 143, then the SEF URL would be /143-samsung-galaxy-note.html, where the category is the SEF URL for which category the product is placed.
When it comes to comparing between OpenCart and Prestashop in terms of SEF URLs, OpenCart is more recommended. Because it offers a flexible way for how you can determine the URL of your products.
Apart from that, both OpenCart and Prestashop have duplicate content problems. Content duplication should be avoided because it will affect the SEO performance of your online store. You can understand more about this on our onpage SEO skill article.
This content duplication problem is most severe in OpenCart because a product can have different links depending on where the product is accessed. The same content with different links causes duplicate content problems which will be devalued by search engines.
Meanwhile, the problem of duplicate content that might occur at Prestashop does not originate “onpage”, but is potential to come from outside of the site (offpage). This is because the category and product names in the Prestashop SEF URL can be completely ignored. The most important thing in the Prestashop SEF URL is the ID of the product.
It appears that the category and product names have no relationship with the names of categories and products that are defined first or internally at all.
But internally, the problem of duplicating content with a pattern like this does not occur. This means that this problem is only possible if there is an external site that refers to a product in your online store and has a misspelling in both category and product name.
The Final Thought
In choosing one from a number of right open source eCommerce platforms, you must consider the objectives, scenarios, and resources in your project. From various eCommerce software that I have reviewed in this blog, there are three candidates worth considering, namely Magento Commerce, OpenCart, and Prestashop. Magento Commerce has the most comprehensive features and high flexibility but requires high server requirements and human resources. While Prestashop is still superior to OpenCart in terms of features and appearance. However, the flexibility of OpenCart in determining the SEF URLs has its own advantages. Both OpenCart and PrestaShop have a problem of duplicated content that needs a solution before you decide to use one of both.