There are a lot of eCommerce software products that you can install and use. But which one is best? If you choose one, how do you know it will be supported several years from now? If you build a site, will you be able to update it? Will it break whenever they update the server or database at your web hosting company? Unfortunately these questions are not easily answered.
What we recommend is that you pick a popular eCommerce platform and preferably one that has at least some paid customers. Even if your usage is free, it’s good to know there is a revenue stream that supports the product. Then, when you implement the shopping cart, be very careful about customizations. If your customizations interfere with files that may get updated or replaced in the future, then you may be unable to upgrade without extensive programming work. Many eCommerce platforms have an architecture that allow certain customizations without causing problems with upgrades. But that’s not always possible. Discuss this with your programmer in-depth so you know what challenges you may face in the future.
Magento – This is a product supported by Adobe. It’s a mainstream product and is designed for very large eCommerce businesses. They offer an expensive hosted system that runs on their optimized servers and it can handle millions of transactions. For smaller companies, they offer a downloadable version that’s free. You install it on your server and away you go. It’s a great product and customizable. If you ever become that billion dollar shop, you have an upgrade path.
ZenCart – A stand-alone eCommerce platform that’s been around a long time. You can easily find programmers with lots of experience supporting this system. This is an open source solution. The company itself doesn’t offer much support other than forums where other users will answer questions.
wooCommerce – A popular eCommerce platform that is integrated into WordPress. There appears to be a lot of support for it. I’ve not used it personally.