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Which Ecommerce Script Should I Use?

I need to build an ecommerce website within a tight budget and schedule. Of course, I have never done that before, so I have googled out what my solutions are and I have concluded that the following were not valid candidates anymore :

  1. Magento : Steep learning curve
  2. osCommerce : old, bad design, buggy and not user-friendly
  3. Zencart, CRE Loaded, CubeCart : based on osCommerce
  4. Virtuemart, uberCart, eCart : based on CMS (Joomal, Drupal, WordPress) that is not necessary for my use-case

So I finally narrowed down my choices to these solutions :

  1. PrestaShop : easy-to-use, great templating engine (smarty) but many modules are not free buy yet indispensable
  2. OpenCart : security issues and not a great support from the main developer. See here and here.

So, as you can see, I am a little bit confused and if you can help me choosing an easy-to-use, lightweight and cheap (not-necessarily free) ecommerce solution, I would really appreciate.

By the way, I am a Java/Grails programmer but I am also familiar with PHP and .NET. (not with Python or Ruby/Rails)

EDIT: It seems that this question is more appropriate for the Webmaster StackExchange site. So please move this question to where it belongs (I cannot do that) instead of downvoting it. BTW, I have found out a question quite similar on SO (https://stackoverflow.com/questions/3315638/php-ecommerce-system-which-one-is-easiest-to-modify) which is quite popular.

  • Beyond not being programming related, there really isn't an concrete answer to this. It depends. Commented Feb 3, 2011 at 0:09
  • 1
    @Alan Of course, it depends. That's the reason I do describe my requirements in the question AND explain my left options I have. Also, tell me the difference between my question and this question: stackoverflow.com/questions/81830/rails-or-grails ?
    – fabien7474
    Commented Feb 3, 2011 at 0:13
  • @Alan I agree, this question would be better suited for the webmasters stack exchange: webmasters.stackexchange.com
    – Moses
    Commented Feb 3, 2011 at 0:15
  • @Moses OK. I was not aware of this website. Can a moderator move my question to webmasters stack exchange if you feel this is the right place?
    – fabien7474
    Commented Feb 3, 2011 at 0:18
  • 1
    I can't speak for all the down voters, but Stack Overflow is a programming site, and asking non-programming questions here will get you down voted. Commented Feb 3, 2011 at 1:54

10 Answers 10


If you have never done it before and have tight schedule and budget then i'd say you are doomed anyway and have to choose whatever has the shortest learning curve for you.

Best choice out of these would be Magento but it has the longest learning curve and you'd be well comfortable with this platform after 6 months hands on working with it. I would not bother to learn the others as they are waste of time from business owners perspective. Specially viewed from support and aging technology side.

Referring to the facts have never done it before and tight schedule and budget i would suggest to rent the storefront instead (shopify, yahoo and so on, google will help you find them). That would cut off costs for development , shorten the learning curve and you can start selling right away and you can boost your business with reasonably priced services. If you grow and have larger budget then you should think of investing and implementing your own site.

  • 1
    I would second this. If you have a tight schedule and equal budget (as is the case in most of the projects we take on) it's usually more interesting to go for a hosted solution where you just focus on implementing a custom design for the client and be done with it. I've written a post comparing hosted solutions with open source, see here: goo.gl/KwQnK
    – Jorre
    Commented Jun 5, 2012 at 13:36

Try out Shopify.


From personal experience I can recommend you Interspire Shopping Cart it is not free but in my opinion quite powerful and easy to operate. They provide hosted version and server licensing.

  • Thx for your advice. Interspire looks very promising. I'll check it.
    – fabien7474
    Commented Feb 3, 2011 at 9:23

I used zencart previously and just transfered to prestashop and must say it's much better, easier to use/customize

but I've not tried OpenCart so can not compare these two


I have found Magento, difficult to learn, but worth the effort.

A great resource in understanding how magneto code works: Designers Guide

Awesome video tutorial series: Building a Magento Theme Start to Finish


Magento may well be the most robust PHP shop solution, but it is big, resource hungry and not easy to implement or customize as others noted. Prestashop may not be as matured and it lacks a lot of the more advanced features, BUT it is impressively easy to learn both to the developer/webmaster and to the owner. I honestly think it will become the most popular solution in just a couple of years.


I can say from personal experience that Prestashop is pretty good. They used to have a problem with the upgrades being hard (1.1 -> 1.2 was so hard many people didn't do it), but since 1.3 this has not been much of an issue. They also issue regular security updates, and have an active forum to help with problems.

My wife and her business partner are both non-technical people, and they find Prestashop easy to use, so depending on your customer that may be important as well.


Evaluate the different solutions by establishing some test products. Then read the documentation (and test a sample installation if possible) to see how they are handled.

For example, I needed some tricky handling of text product attributes and variable pricing. Three years ago ZenCart was the only solution that could do what I needed.


I would recommend OpenCart, since it is very useful and easy to operate, especially if you are familiar with PHP. With a great mix of recipes for both beginners and intermediates, the OpenCart 1.4 Template Design Cookbook is a must.

  • He already said OpenCart was not really an option. Cited Security Issues and Developers Negative Attitude.
    – unixman83
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 2:09

For shopping carts, I will recommend you to have a look at Magento Commerce, OsCommerce, ZenCart and Prestashop. If you are looking for something powerful, you should definitely be looking at Magento.

Clearly the Magento eCommerce with the strongest backend and securely.

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