Practical Ecommerce

10 Great Licensed Shopping Carts

Licensed ecommerce platforms are often the most flexible and powerful “shopping carts” available to online retailers, but they can demand more in terms of expenses and development time.

Licensed shopping carts — or, perhaps more accurately, ecommerce platforms — are hosted on a merchant’s own servers or at a hosting company. In the case of open-source licensed carts, there are often a significant number of extensions that can be used to connect with third party tools or solutions. What’s more, many licensed carts make it possible to customize an installation, tailoring it to fit a particular merchant’s needs.

In this article, I offer my view of some of the best licensed ecommerce solutions available in 2011. Some of these solutions are enterprise-level — meaning that they can do much more, but they may also cost much more. Others are a nice combination of features and cost, suitable for small online merchants.

To be sure, I have not reviewed or experienced every licensed shopping cart. — there are likely other great licensed carts that could be added to this list. But, for the licensed carts I’ve experienced, here are ten great examples.

Magento

With more than 100,000 merchants on its platform, Magento is one of the most popular ecommerce solutions.

With more than 100,000 merchants on its platform, Magento is one of the most popular ecommerce solutions.

Magento is an open source, ecommerce powerhouse that includes many of the most sought after ecommerce features and has the support of a massive development and user community. The Magento platform is available in a free Community edition, but the Enterprise edition, which includes technical support and the most updated features, runs about $12,999 per year. eBay recently purchased Magento, making it an even more attractive choice.

LemonStand

LemonStand is a feature-rich choice for mid-sized ecommerce businesses.

LemonStand is a feature-rich choice for mid-sized ecommerce businesses.

LemonStand is very flexible platform that will delight web designers and merchants alike with its simplicity, ease of use, and visually appealing admin and reporting. LemonStand is about $258 USD or $299.98 in Canadian dollars, the solution’s home currency. This is a great choice for tech-savvy ecommerce entrepreneurs.

IBM WebSphere Commerce

IBM's WebSphere Commerce is a complete, enterprise-level solution.

IBM’s WebSphere Commerce is a complete, enterprise-level solution.

IBM’s WebSphere Commerce is a leader among large retail enterprises. This solution is very easy to integrate with social media and enables precision marketing capable of targeting offers and personalized promotions to individual shoppers. The express version starts at about $30,000, but request a quote to get specifics.

Oracle ATG Web Commerce

ATG Web Commerce is one of the best-in-class ecommerce solutions.

ATG Web Commerce is one of the best-in-class ecommerce solutions.

Oracle’s ATG Web Commerce platform aims to serve the world’s largest and best-known brands. The platform delivers the cross-channel capabilities and features you’d expect from a world-class ecommerce solution.

Fry Open Commerce Platform

Fry Open Commerce Platform is behind many leading brands.

Fry Open Commerce Platform is behind many leading brands.

The Fry Open Commerce Platform from Micros is built to let multi-channel merchants easily implement customer business rules without the need to conform to “rigid” protocols. The platform has been listed among the very best in several published reports.

Hybris B2C Commerce

Among its many features, Hybris B2C Commerce offers centralized product and price management.

Among its many features, Hybris B2C Commerce offers centralized product and price management.

Hybris is an enterprise-level, licensed ecommerce software solution. Like many of the platforms in its class, it offers a high-level of customization; is rich in features; and has an excellent track record. In August 2011, Hybris announced that it was joining forces with iCongo, another excellent ecommerce solution that would have made this list in its own right if the companies were not merging.

OpenCart

OpenCart is aimed at very small online merchants.

OpenCart is aimed at very small online merchants.

On the opposite side of the licensed cart universe from large, enterprise solutions, is OpenCart. A simple-to-use, free and open source shopping cart solution that is clearly aimed at small and startup ecommerce businesses.

TomatoCart

The TomatoCart administrative interface is similar to a PC desktop.

The TomatoCart administrative interface is similar to a PC desktop.

TomatoCart is an open source solution best suited for small or mid-sized commerce merchants. This licensed solution features a unique, desktop-like administration panel on top of the usual set of ecommerce features.

PrestaShop

With more than 100,000 stores using PrestaShop, it is a clear leader.

With more than 100,000 stores using PrestaShop, it is a clear leader.

PrestaShop boasts more than 240 specific ecommerce features. While many of these are relatively common in the world of licensed ecommerce solutions, they add up to a very complete offering. PrestaShop is available free and is open source.

ElasticPath

ElasticPath customers benefit from easy A/B split testing.

ElasticPath customers benefit from easy A/B split testing.

Among ElasticPath’s varied and many features is a relatively easy-to-use A/B split testing capability that allows its users to test various landing page, merchandising offers, or checkout pages.

Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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Comments ( 11 )

  1. Konstantin Molchanov December 18, 2011 Reply

    Nice review! The selection is quiet unexpected though. I mean, for example, Oracle solution is by far not the one for small- and middle-sized businesses, which this site is mainly targeted to.

    It’d also be nice to see a price comparison here.

    >[…]there are likely other great licensed carts that could be added to this >list. But, for the licensed carts I’ve experienced, here are ten great >examples.

    One suggestion here would be CS-Cart.

  2. Kim Rossey December 19, 2011 Reply

    Good article. Really do not like seeing entrepreneurs put their business in a box using hosted eCommerce. Their sites should be domain driven rather than the opposite and I hope more pay attention to using a platform to build the software to do the work the business truly requires.

  3. Michael Hulleman December 19, 2011 Reply

    Great review. I’d like to throw another platform into the hat; Advantage Webstore (from Moveable Online based out of Toronto, Canada).

    In my personal opinion it’s the multi-store engine that makes it special, and how it can be integrated with your ERP solution. The Advantage Webstore platform is proven to be robust enough to carry 3,000+ webstores on only one instance. Ideal for partner sites, or brand/catologue segmentation.

    It’s a much more custom solution than typical out of the box platforms, built around your business needs (and not the other way around). It has brought much success to the likes of Scholar’s Choice, Football Fanatics, and more.

    Feel free to take a look: AdvantageWebstore.com

    Mike Hulleman
    Business Development for Moveable Online

    • Michael Hulleman July 10, 2014 Reply

      Ah, the early days. Moved on since then: http://www.gethonest.ca

      It’s a lot easier to evolve when you don’t have 80 employees and use archaic programming languages.

  4. Armando Roggio December 21, 2011 Reply

    @Konstantin Molchanov, You’re right about Oracle and a few others really being aimed at larger companies. I spent a long time deciding which platforms to mention, in the end, I decided to go with the really "great" licensed carts regardless of cost.

    My hope is that many of our readers are growing their businesses to that place that Oracle or other enterprise level solutions are really within reach.

    Love your blog posts by the way.

  5. Michael Phillips December 22, 2011 Reply

    Good job on this. I like seeing Magento (probably the most flexible platform available) on the same field as WebSphere (probably the most expensive). Another interesting and affordable option is Venda. Fees are based on a percentage of sales so they are invested from day one in building your online business.

  6. Peter Bakker December 22, 2011 Reply

    Nice list but out of the box is not where a successful business stops. What should be mentioned in this list is the customisability and the language its written in. After seeing a few botched implementations in Magento because PHP hackers tend to change to core of Magento rather then extend it.

    Any eCommerce system should be viewed in its components and those components are more or less important regarding the scale of your business.

    I would suggest looking at the following components and determining what would be best:
    * Search [still used a lot],
    * Categorisation,
    * Customizable products in the dimensions you need,
    * Checkout (often the default checkout is used and is not always the best),
    * Payment (payment services without call back can be very expensive when you are hit by fraud)
    * Backoffice (how does the order flow fit your company and business model)
    * Reporting: often very poor
    * Integration with other systems like email broadcast, adwords, Analytics, retargeting, etc

    Hope this helps,

    Peter Bakker

    Peter@mydeco.com

  7. joy December 22, 2011 Reply

    Concerning the customization abilities there is the most flexible PHP eCommerce solution – LiteCommerce 3.0. The LC3 module is able to change _every_ core functionality without any restrictions. Very significant application indeed.

  8. surfjam December 22, 2011 Reply

    I have a very successful client using Core Commerce. Though it can be frustrating at times because they have recently transitioned from wide open PHP to a safer token system, my client chose them for the wide range of third party product integration available.

  9. Tony Birnseth December 22, 2011 Reply

    Good first-blush. As mentioned above, you missed cs-cart which is packed with features for the small to mid-sized merchant and is relatively easily extensible with an architecture that allows someone to extend without corrupting the distributed product (upgrade independence).

    The author stated licensed but includes free carts. Isn’t everything licensed in some way or other?

  10. Armando Roggio December 23, 2011 Reply

    Tony, here licensed is used in contrast to SaaS.