Popular self-hosted ecommerce solutions 2016

List of ecommerce solutions for CMS

The most popular self-hosted ecommerce solutions in the world for 2016 – PART 2

Useful links: part one of article: Most used ecommerce platforms for 2016 and part three: Trends in online stores for 2016.

In this article I will review in details this type of solutions, mainly because the online shops in the world are based primarily on self-hosted solutions.
The most popular self hosted systems for online shops worldwide are:

1. Opencart shops (free – http://www.opencart.com/). Opencart is suitable for small and medium online shops. it gained strength in the last two years, in 2014 the system was on 5-6 place by popularity.


Opencart Disadvantages: There are minor bugs to improve the discoverability for Google. They can be removed by minor changes in the code or by installing additional supplements of the system for SEO. If you want fats shop, the system needs a slight optimization of SQL applications. When these modifications are done, this type of shops rank very well in Google.

Opencart Advantages: It has almost everything that is necessary – integrated and ready for use. It has translations of almost every language, free and ready for use of all of the most popular types of Payment processors.

2. Oscommerce based (free – https://www.oscommerce.com/). This is the fyrst CMS in the world, created especially for ecommerce. Its development has begun back in 2000! There are at least several types and their total is more than any other type of online shops in the world. The most popular of them is Zen Cart (free – https://www.zen-cart.com/). Another popular but complicated system is Loaded Commerce (before it was called CRE Loaded, there are paid and free version – http://www.loadedcommerce.com/). The Loaded Commerce has many features, multi-vendor functions. It’s important to know that even the hosted system Bigcommerce is based on Oscommerce (their self-hosted system was formerly called Interspire Shopping Cart).


Oscommerce and Zen Cart based shops: Advantages: They’re fast and light, they have
everything necessary and they’re free. All internal pages rank easily in Google, and they rank even better if they’re included and well set SEO URL addresses. As I already said, there are paid complicated systems based on them and you become a miracle maker thanks to them.

2.1. Oscommerce: suitable for small to large online stores. Its latest versions are really good, but the system by default is “stark naked” – it needs a lot more applications after the standard installation.

Oscommerce Advantages: there is a Huge (I purposely wrote it with a big letter) number of additional modules – over 7,000 and almost all of them are free. In the latest versions the modules can be addedeasily and can be included in administration – as with any modern system. I won’t descrive what are the available extras because they are many and almost all of them are free. I will say only that everything is ready: there are ready online payments, and also features for integration with courier services, import-export functionalities, including synchronization with warehouse programs, there is even multi-vendor functionality and everything else you can think of.

Oscommerce Disadvantages: There are relatively few themes with responsive design and the system needs a person with experience for possible edit of the code for some of the additional modules. Another disadvantage is the neglected maintenance by the system developers – over the past two years the system has almost no development. These two things are tha reason why at the moment OpenCart is the most popular system for online stores in Bulgaria and to replace Oscommerce which was the leader before 2-3 years ago.

2.2. Zen Cart: suitable for small and medium online shops. Zen Cart is a modified core of Oscommerce, where are uploaded many extras – The core of Oscommerce is used plus everything the developer of the system has considered as required for an online shop. Advantage: It has everything you need to begin. There are many ready themes which are paid.


A major Zen Cart disadvantage is that most of the applications for OsCommerce require a slight modification to work properly with Zen Cart.

3. Joomla based (Joomla is free and complicated CMS – https://www.joomla.org/) – Virtuemart (free – http://virtuemart.net/). Virtuemart is a Joomla component and is the leader for Joomla based online shops. But there are several others pretty good components for it – as Hikashop (http://www.hikashop.com/, which has free and paid versions).


These Joomla based shops rank in Google much easier than Magento based websites, for example. There are several free and paid components for the Joomla based online shop.
Joomla advantages:
– You have full freedom – this is the only system with which with few resources you can do any type of site.
– There are numerous developed applications for the system – both free and paid.
– The biggest advantage is that the search for Joomla application is centralized – directly in the administration of the website, the admin is integrated with the Joomla website for applications extensions.joomla.org. Currently there are over 10,000 Joomla applications, and around 60% of which are free.

3.1. Joomla based shops with Virtuemart component. Suitable for small to medium online shops. If you need complex but free online shop with many functions that you can control easily – this is one of the best choices.
Joomla Advantages:
– It has everything integrated for making a decent online shop.
– SEO friendly by default – without any efforts, only with a quick adjustment there is a good discoverability in search engines.
– One of the biggest advantages is that you can build a compex website with Joomla core. It’s up to you whether the Virtuemart online shop will be just one of the site sections or the it will only be online shop. They have a pretty good forum and you can find almost all of the answers to your questions there.

3.2. Joomla based shops with Hika Shop component. Suitable for big online shops.

HikaShop Advantages: the paid top version (It’s called HikaShop Business and costs €100) has really everything necessary and numerous extras, integrations with other Joomla components, functions for coupon codes, email marketing and built in affiliate system, personalization options and they are also built in directly in the admin panel and without having to edit code.

Note: There are additional applications for HikaShop which add multi vendor and auction features to the system.

The disadvantage is that HikaShop is rather complez and it needs setup by experts. You can mistake many things and you will need support by the system developers, for sure. The first time when you setup HikaShop, there is no way that everything will be perfect, no matter how experienced you are. It’s good that they have well developed support forum and they answer quickly to the questions.

4. Magento based (free – https://magento.com/).
Magento based online shops – complex system with many applications available, most of them are pretty expensive. The development of such good website is expensive, that’s why it’s suitable only for big online shops – where this investment will be justified. Most of the small startup businesses make a major mistake by trying to do such site for selling only 50-150 products.


Magento Disadvantages:
A. The system is slow, it has specific requirements for the hosting, which means more resources. A medium online shop based on this system requires at least VPS server.
B. The system requires experience for expert work and for modifications in it. Magento needs a lot of work for reaching the same usability as it is with Zen Cart and OpenCart – these things that they have for free and by default. The Magento based shop can’t be ranked as well in the search engines as Zen Cart or OpenCart, and that’s not just because it’s slower.
C. The standard free Magento version has big problems with the discoverability in search engines, including duplicate content in large amounts – same category or same products appear in many different URL addresses. How can you avoid it? It’s mandatory to turn on canonical URL addresses: https://bestecommerce.solutions/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/magento-canonical-options.jpg Basics guide for Magento optimization: https://yoast.com/magento-seo/ and guide for fixing one of the problems with Magento SEO optimization (for advanced, it requires php code editing): https://bestecommerce.solutions/magento-unique-titles-filters

Magento Advantages:
A. Nice interface, good logic in adding products, options and filters, stable system.
B. It can be easily integrated with warehouse management software – numerous serious and qualitative warehouse programs have ready solutions for Magento.
C. It has ready paid integration applications with other types of sites and applications, inclding for import-export by xml and csv files. There are many ready templates and applications for this system, including application for integration with warehouse and ERP programs.
Disadvantge of applications: almost all applications of the system are very commercial – they are paid and expensive. If your budget is small, this system isn’t for you.

5. WordPress based shops (free – https://wordpress.com/) plus plugin for online shops. The most popular plugin is WooCommerce (http://www.woothemes.com/woocommerce/). It became so popular since the owner of WordPress Auttomatic bought the product – now it’s part of the system core.

The WordPress based shops are most often with the WooCommerce and WP-Ecommerce plugins. They rank easily in Google becayse most of the plugins use the strandrd control for URL addresses and meta tags of WordPress, which is perfectly discoverable in search engines. A great advantage is that you can build a complex site with the WordPress core and it’s up to you whether the online shop will be just one of the site sections or it will be built only as shop. There are translations in many languages, as well as ready payment methods.

6. Prestashop based online stores (free – https://www.prestashop.com/).


It’s not a bad option. It’s a modern free system, it has translations in many languages. There are things to be fixed for the discoverability in search engines.

Prestashop Disadvantages: Most of the applications are pretty expensive, for example most of the WordPress, OpenCart and Joomla applications are cheaper. There aren’t many free ready online payments.

It’s important to keep in mind that this statistics is according to the number of indexed sites in Google for each of the system, and not according to their popularity, amounts and quantities of sales of these types of shops! We recomment you not to trust “statistics” in which fot the most popular system worldwide is indicated Magento – most of these “researches” are online marketing and they are written by companies that develop Magento applications.

Opencart footprint:
inurl:”index.php?route=” – 18 700 000 results!

Oscommerce footprints:
inurl:products_new.php – 426 000 results

ZenCart footprints (englis stores only!):
inurl:”products_new.html” +Displaying +new products – 327 000 results

Magento footprints:
inurl:customer/account/login/ – 410 000 results
inurl:catalog/seo_sitemap/category/ – 166 000 results

Prestashop footprint:
inurl:”index.php?controller=prices-drop” – 241 000 results
inurl:”login?back=my-account” – 9250 results

About the author: Eduard Dimitrov (https://plus.google.com/+EduardDimitrov/about) has participated in the construction of over 550 online shops, he has led the development of over 200 applications for popular CMS, some of which for online stores, and he has optimized over 2500 websites (on-page and off-page SEO). Lector on over 20 SEO courses, lector on SEO conference 2015 and CEO of 3D Web Design ( http://3dwebdesign.org/ )

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