What Is Open Source Technology?
In principle, open source software is free, meaning the code is available for whoever downloads and uses it or tweaks it as they see fit. Open source technology has been crucial to the development and progress of many online solutions, as developers continue to share their knowledge and improve on existing open source software.
When it comes to eCommerce, there are a number of open source platforms available to help you build your online shop. Most open source platforms are free to download and use, although developers such as Magento give users with little web development experience the option to purchase a more user-friendly version of their platform.
Open source platforms are a great option if you are a skilled web developer or are working with one to build your online shop. They are flexible and scalable and many come with a wide range of features such as CRM integration.
Open source eCommerce platforms are designed to be modular. You download the software and make changes in the code in order to customise it or use what the platform developer has on offer in terms of themes and layouts for your site, most of which are free.
Then you add the necessary extensions or plugins to make your online shop completely functional, such as shipping and marketing tools. Some of these extensions are free, while others come with a fee.
Among these extensions are payment gateways, which are a necessary component of running an online business as they provide a secure means of sending your customers’ card details over to your merchant account provider and the card issuer.
As with other extensions, some payment gateways are bundled free with open source platforms, while others are paid options.
Popular Open Source eCommerce Platforms
Magento is one of the big success stories in eCommerce development. Since its beta release in 2007, Magento has had millions of downloads and currently powers thousands of online businesses. The Magento Community Edition is a free platform which offers basic eCommerce functionality.
It comes with a basic theme to give a generic look to your online shop which you can then customise, you can then add modules to expand the functionality of your shop.
This version of Magento is a great and cheap starting point for online business owners who know their way around PHP, CSS and HTML, but you can always purchase whichever plugin you’ll need to achieve the look and design that you want for your shop.
PrestaShop is another eCommerce platform that has garnered positive reviews from online businesses. It is completely free to download and offers more than 300 dynamic features to help you completely customise your website.
Its modules provide you with tools to design your checkout process, catalogue management, shop display, shipping options, business analytics, reporting, and marketing.
OpenCart is another free eCommerce platform with a remarkable range of features. This is pretty much a straightforward out-of-the-box shopping cart solution—you simply download and install it, and then select a template and add your products.
Its user-friendly admin interface will help you customise your site, choosing from hundreds of plugins that range from marketing tools to product reviews and ratings.
Best Open Source Payment Gateways
Most open source eCommerce platforms come bundled with free payment gateways, but your choice of which payment gateway to go with your shopping cart should not be determined just by whether or not it’s free.
Before you choose which payment gateway you will use, first determine which features you’d like your payment gateway to have as well as the payment methods it offers, especially if you’re looking into serving your customers with subscription products or services.
PayPal is the largest and most visible payment service provider in the world, serving millions of customers globally. It comes bundled free with a number of open source platforms, including Magento, making it easy to get started with running your online shop and accepting payments straight away.
PayPal’s payment gateway is designed to be easily integrated into your shopping cart and comes as a range of solutions. PayPal Express Checkout is normally the version bundled with shopping platforms as it’s the quickest to set up.
With this solution, your customers are directed to the PayPal site to complete the checkout. Existing PayPal customers have the convenience of paying for your products with a single click.
If you would like your customers to stay on your website to finalise the payment process, PayPal has Payments Advanced and Payments Pro, both of which include Express Checkout. PayPal Payments Pro also comes bundled with a merchant account.
Authorize.net comes pre-integrated with several open source shopping carts, including Shopify and Zen Cart. It offers a full range of payment gateway services and accepts all major credit and debit cards, as well as PayPal and Apple Pay.
Its Advanced Fraud Detection Suite (AFDS) contains multiple security filters that ensure each transaction is valid to protect your business from fraudulent purchases.
Authorize.net also has a superb online merchant tool to help you access and analyse your transactions. It offers an option to store your customers’ card details and help them save time the next time they purchase from your site, as well as a recurring billing tool so you can set up subscriptions.
SagePay is available as an integration for many open source platforms, including Magento, OpenCart and Shopify. SagePay integration is quick and easy to set up so you can use it straight out of the box.
It accepts all major credit and debit cards as well as PayPal and Local European Payments (ideal if you want to trade in the Netherlands, Germany and Austria), in multiple currencies. It has a token system (for single-click purchases) and you can set up subscriptions.
You can choose to integrate the payment gateway directly into your website or let SagePay host the checkout page for your shop.
SagePay provides 24/7 UK-based support to its customers and has a comprehensive online reporting and analytics tool to help you keep track of your transactions. Read more about SagePay’s merchant services or read our SagePay review.