I was looking at some open source shopping carts in the process of setting up an online shop. Read a lot of sites/posts/blogs however none of them could make me really understand which one to choose and I ended up downloading, installing and experimenting to find one which one suits best.
In fact it all depends on what is it that you are trying to achieve and how much of money and expertise do you have. I was not looking to do any coding (very minimal if any) to modify the shopping cart to suit to my needs. I will just tabulate the basic feature set that someone setting up an online shop would look for. I started with zencart moved to opencart and then to oscommerce before finally coming back to opencart. I read somewhere that opencart is wordpress of shopping carts, and I wholeheartedly endorse this statement.
Goal: To set up an online shopping site as quickly as quickly as possible.
Opencart Vs Zencart vs Oscommerce
|Installation||10 min||10 min||10 min|
|Possible customizations without coding||Low. But most will not need.||Highest. Entire screen layout can be changed. Sections can be defined and worked out.||Medium|
|Free Addons||Not really usabe addons||Good List||Good List|
|Do you need addons||No||Yes||Yes|
|Base installation look & Feel||Decent look and feel with all the features out of box without adding any plugins are available. Product images with lighbox is available.||Bad. Something as basic as image zoom using lightbox is not available. Cannot attach multiple images of the product without addons.||Bad. Can attach multiple images. Lighbox for image zoom is available out of box.|
|Basic theme/template||Decent. Additional good freely downloadable templates are not availablke freely. However in most cases the default is decent to start with.||Bad. You will have to search for themes templates that can make the site look decent. Haven’t really seen good ones available freely.||Bad. Same story as zencart.|
|Ease of use (Admin)||Easiest. Provides google analytics integration out of box andd that is cool for most.||For uploading images to server you will need to create the folder on server using ftp and then you can upload the images using web front end. Can be improved hugely.||Decent|
|Slideshows||Very easy to build. Put the images and set them via front end.||Will need addon (Free).||Will need addon (Free)|
Support on zencart forum as pretty good and you get your questions answered pretty quickly. In fact zencart is a fork of oscommerce and has gotten added more features but usability has reduced.
Though oscommerce is pretty good I could not find good free templates for it. STS (Simple Template System) does not work for version 2.3.1 and MTS (mini template system) though appears to be pretty good costs money.
I also tried magento. But the base installation downloaded from their site was broken. So did not pursue it.
Remember, shopping cart is only a tool for you get your products online quickly so that you can start selling and making money. Try to avoid minimal addons as they would have their own overhead and will demand time from you.
My recommendation. Go for opencart. It has everything you need to set up an online store and your effort to result ratio in setting up the shop would be highest without much disappointment.