The Best Shopping Carts for eCommerce Sites Reviewed

Demanding customers have driven web developers to look for the perfect eCommerce Hosting solution. A buyer wants to see purchasing options show up in 3 seconds. Disappointed shoppers move on to other sites. The following breakdown of several popular e-commerce hosting products will help you decide on which will work best in your situation.



People who understand PHP and e-commerce hosting will like osCommerce. This open-source shopping cart has grown with over 2,000 contributors and 14,000 participants. As with other public programs, however, there is no live support.

Current upgrades allow advanced SEO options and a variety of add-ons. One should not expect to use it right out of the box. Plan to invest a little time tweaking and customizing the setup.
Snagging a free copy of this program may not be your best ecommerce solution. If you are limited in security and SEO knowledge, purchasing a template or hiring a web solutions company might start you off on the right foot. Otherwise, this cart provides many options and, with so much sourcing, will adapt to market changes.



Offering a nice template feature, Magento faces many challenges in today’s market, unfortunately. Frequently updated and supported by Varian, this cart has gained a quick following. Users find this product to work well with multiple websites.

Here, again, a person needs to have some technical background. Even then, the huge amount of coding pages leave even experts overwhelmed. One should be familiar with the Zend framework and PHP 5 standards.

Users complain of Magento running slowly and developers fuss about the price. One should expect to spend quite a bit more on upgrading, customizing, and maintaining this new ecommerce tool than other options would require.


CS Cart

Written in PHP/MySQL, this cart comes with a bunch of built-in templates. Its add-ons allow customization without tinkering with core components. CS-Cart serves all sizes of websites and businesses.

This cart has gotten a lot of bad press for being too slow. The recent upgrade, however, has brought the cart up to speed. Many in non-US countries find this cart to serve their needs better than others.

This cart takes all major online payments like Google checkout, Paypal, and HSBC. It also links smoothly with UPS, FedEx, and other postal services.



Like any product, Prestashop has those who love it and those who hate it. As typical with any new product, this cart burned a few users in its early days. Since then, however it has blossomed with more options, easier modules, and a better customer experience (translated ‘more money in the bank’).

One component that makes this cart stand out from others is the bulk order discount and promotional discount feature. Login and signup move more smoothly for the customer, retaining their attention to the final screen. Although free, most developers will want to buy modules like onepagecheckout to improve this product.



If there is an exit door on internet e-commerce hosting, Zen Cart might be it. Numerous developers have lost faith in this enhanced version of osCommerce. Continual upgrades and uncoordinated contributions have left a mess on the administrator interface.

However, the product is not hopeless. This cart has proven stable in a variety of applications for a considerable time. It is also a cheaper option with no licensing fees. Those who continue to use Zen Cart are usually well-versed in technical expertise.

Avactis Shopping Cart


This product has been attracting disgruntled Zen Cart dropouts as well as other clients. For some developers Avactis has some growing up to do. Others find it flexible and intuitive with the wonderful option of allowing customers to check out without registering.

Web designers using Dreamweaver especially like Avactis as it integrates with the program so well. The ticket price for this product may be too high for the learning curve some will have to follow.

Cube Cart

Cube Cart

While “free” brings some people to use Cube Cart, those who want to remove the logo have to buy a license. This program offers great design features and access to common payment systems. However, administrators will find the lack of management features frustrating.

The weakness of this product is its lack of marketing capabilities. One finds no easy method of email marketing, social marketing, or affiliate promotions. On the upside, SEO features work well.



While Joomla has arrived as one of the best content management systems (CMS) on the web, its shopping cart has not. Virtuemart lacks the sparkle of what customers expect in a checkout experience. Along the lines of the osCommerce cart, one should know some coding and have experience before attempting to open the box on this one. With time, add on modules may bring this cart up to competitive levels with others available.

Interchange Shopping Cart


This cart has been around for over 15 years, yet has not caught on with a lot of users. Open-source Perl coding makes automation available along with easy authentication. Time-ripened, the Interchange shopping cart has all the features an experienced developer might want.

Agora Shopping Cart


Written in Perl/MySQL, Agora offers some adaptable and practical features for both customer and administrator ease of use. Those with Perl or HTML experience can customize many options. Some have found it easy to operate even without a lot of techie experience.

The best part of this cart is its numerous options and contributions for eCommerce Hosting. Many have access to Agora through the cPanel in their webhosting accounts.

Written 2011-01-04 (Updated 2016-10-10)
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