2012 Trends and 2013 Predictions for Open Source eCommerce
I've been writing about Open Source eCommerce (OSC) shopping carts for a decade now, and many carts have risen and fallen in popularity during that time. For the past five years I've tracked the popularity of OSC carts every month by doing an exact Google search and recording the results. This doesn't track the actual number of carts installed, and popularity can be positive or negative, but over time it becomes more and more valuable as the search results mirror the life cycle of a cart. Carts that are becoming more popular show rapid increases in the number of search results. It is possible to see exact the month a cart peaks in popularity. Year-to-year results are even more revealing.
Most popular OSC programs of 2012
OpenCart popularity quadrupled in the last twelve months to emerge as this year's winner of the popularity prize. Only two other programs my study have ever tracked have shown this kind of growth: Magento soared in popularity to peak in July 2011, ending 2012 down about 15% from a year earlier. In 2011 PrestaShop grew nearly fivefold, while in 2012 it has held steady throughout the year, and continues to be at its highest popularity level. VirtueMart, an open source e-commerce plug-in for Joomla, surged to a peak in February 2012 a few months after introduction of its new Version 2.
Most Surprising Renaissance
osCommerce, the grand-daddy of all OSC programs, had been steadily decreasing in popularity every year until mid-2011, when it enjoyed a temporary resurgence due to the release of a developers' version 3.0 in August 2011. However this past year osCommerce popularity again declined steadily, dropping to half of its opening level.
OSC Predictions for 2013
Hosted or "cloud solutions" while not traditional OSC programs, are programs that can be rented for a small monthly fee. This allows small merchants to try the programs without investing a lot of time and money in installation and development. Hosted solutions Big Commerce, Volusion, and Shopify all showed impressive growth over 2012, and I predict even greater growth for all of these non-OSC programs in 2013. Hosted versions of OSC programs, already available for many, will become highly popular in 2013.
I predict OpenCart will extend its wild ride well into 2013. Magento will continue to be popular, however its hosted solution "Magento Go" will grab many smaller merchants. OSC makers will need to make their carts more attractive and easy to use in order to compete with the simple and maintenance-free hosted solutions.
About the Study
Currently I track nearly 80 carts every month, mostly open source but also free and low-cost carts and hosted solutions. I begin tracking a cart when I first see it mentioned, and usually they have fewer than 100,000 Google search results. Each month I repeat the exact same search and record the results. Google occasionally changes their algorithm, but it tends to affect all carts equally that month. Over time the results are more significant and relevant. All carts discussed in this article have over a million search results.
- OpenCart: http://www.opencart.com/
- Magento: http://magentocommerce.com/
- PrestaShop: http://www.prestashop.com/
- osCommerce: http://www.oscommerce.com
- VirtueMart: http://virtuemart.net/
Alex Browny says:
Open source E-commerce is now widely recognized by many people because of its highly beneficial features!! There are now many E-commerce script providers but if you choose the open source one then you will become owner of the leading E-commerce site !! http://www.ideazglobal.com/groupon_clone.php
Interesting subject, but surely one can only truly gauge popularity by measuring the number installed and trading.
Intent, or people talking about something isn't a good measure, IMO.
I've heard astonishing figures of 20% relating to the total number of ecommerce sites on Magento, for example.
Interested to hear your verdict that Open Cart is the more popular, but not sure about your definition of 'popular', or if it even matters. I'd be more interested to hear which is more widely used.
Any further insights into this?
osCommerce is definitely gaining popularity again! Also the forks like ZenCart, LoadedCommerce, oscMax, modified-shop.org, gambio, seo-mercari and others are popular. Biggest advantage (and probably disadvantage at the same time) is the simple architecture of the system, which allow developer to adopt the cart very easy. ZenCart and LoadedCommerce are providing hooks, which allow to extend the functionality w/o changing the core - great to maintain upgrade-ability.
For all these stores http://www.mailbeez.com is a great addon for automatic aftersales email campaigns - proven to generate great return on investment.
Kerry, have you thought of looking at enterprise-ready open source systems built with more scalability on top of more solid frameworks? The carts you've mentioned can be great for a small business, but larger companies would crater under serious load.
Full disclosure: I work for Broadleaf Commerce (www.broadleafcommerce.com)
Kerry Watson says:
Hi Markboli, I've been tracking these carts with this method for 5 years and the results correspond well with other studies (i.e. actual installations) and with the life cycles of these programs in the long-term. As I mention in the article this method does have limitations in the short-term (i.e. buzz can be negative or positive) so I don't use it for short-term trends or predictions.
Cord, osCommerce did gain some Google popularity in 2011 when it released Version 3.0, but dropped about 50% in 2012.
Buhlstyle, my audience is small businesses, so I don't cover enterprise-ready carts for larger companies.
Thanks all for your comments! I look forward to hearing from you in the new year.
Open source shopping carts don't really cater for someone who wants to sell products online, for one you would need to know a certain amount of programming knowledge and this takes time to learn, the only way forward entrepreneurs new to eCommerce is to use platform that do not require any coding input.
Ambika Tiwari says:
Open source has its own pros and cons. Well my vote it with every ecommerce platform and a plus 1 to Magento as this is the only open source platform which is SEO friendly.
Being a hosted eCommerce platform ourselves I think your findings above are quite insightful.
It would be great if you can cover "Hosted" eCommerce solutions in a similar light.
Matt Cotten says:
I think open source shopping carts will continue to become less popular for most online businesses.
If you are a successful online business then it pays to have the software developer support you rather than relying on yourself or a single web developer to maintain your ecommerce platform.
Ever as a ecommerce web designer myself, I prefer using a hosted shopping cart so I no longer have to deal with installing and troubleshooting software updates and server issues.
These shopping carts are very usefull for those people who want to be part of the ecommerce and decided to open an online store because they will let them receive online payments.
In Colombia people can use shopping carts like prestashop, joomla, Magento, opencart, etc. and they can receive online payments trough Pagosonline, an online payments platform.
Rachel Cornish says:
For smaller online stores a hosted solution is often better as small shop owner does not have resources to learn coding or employ programmers. Yet for larger shops you can ask an agency to provide an open source solution - such as Magento, knowing you will have a system that is well recognised as one of the best ecommerce solutions.