I just read this interesting article that gives the results of a year long process in which 23 free or close to free ecommerce platforms were reviewed.
Some interesting movement in a few areas—no surprise in others.
The rankings and findings are based upon the total number of Google pages reported for each program via boolean search methodologies at various monthly intervals combined over a period of time. So in essence this might tell how many “active” users there are of each platform (and even that could be false in some cases) but it doesn’t tell which of the carts performs best (which in my opinion is most important.)
By performs best I am talking closing the sale. A number of carts on the list I have seen or worked with and they simply lack the features (and support) needed for building a sustainable ecommerce business. Others on the list do a wonderful job of this. In my opinion, the ideal Open Source cart is rich with features that help it win the sale and is stable and friendly enough to enable scalability. I want a cart that has the features of some of the big guys yet is easy enough to understand for the end user.
A list of some of the features (a very small list mind you) I would see as important are:
- The ability to cross sell and up sell products
- Product reviews ability
- Ability to run split testing with tools like Google’s Website Optimizer
- Ability to conduct a recover cart type program for follow up on previously lost sales
- Ability to easily integrate analytics (such as Google Analytics) into the framework—this includes ecom tracking and paid search conversion tracking
- Ability to assign unique landing pages for targeting traffic to (outside of the catalog portion of the site)
- Ability to control the checkout experience including the options of one page checkout, multi-step checkout and guest checkout.
- Ability to integrate with and accept multiple payment methods easily including paypal.
- Some type of sales reporting tool in the background
- The ability to assign a unique home page apart from the design of the rest of the site
- CSS Driven with the ability to easily change look and feel as needed without a lot of work
- Complete customization of product pages including image rich features that rival the custom carts (zoom features, lightboxes, etc…)
- Easily run and or automate promotions (both banners and coupons) on a pre-determined schedule that coincides with your promotional calendar.
- SEO Friendly URLs
- Ability to customize META Data, Titles, Descriptions, etc… down to the product level.
- Integration with shopping comparison sites through automated data feeds
Again, this is just a small list of some initial items that come to mind off the top of my head.
Read more about the results of the year long review from Ecommerce Guide.