Open Source Shopping Carts

There are mulitple open source shopping cart programs available on the internet to meet your eCommerce needs. Most of them are compatible with PHP and MySQL database and provide a basic set of functionality for building an online store. Os Commerce, ZenCart, and Agora Shopping Cart are three of the free shopping cart programs that are commonly used.

Os Commerce

Os Commerce is one of the earliest PHP based open source shopping cart programs. They have been in operation for 8 years. Os Commerce software currently supports over 215,900 stores and over 5,500 ad-ons are available to store owners at no charge. This means that the program is conducive for optimal customization. In addition, Os Commerce can be fully integrated with a large number of payment gateways including,, ChronoPay, iPayment, PayPal and many others. However, unlike many of the other open source shopping carts, Os Commerce does not come with a template system. Third party templates are available or the design can be hand coded.


Zen Cart is a fork of Os Commerce. In addition to some aesthetic changes that were made, ZenCart implements a template system. The template system is really the only main difference between the two programs. This shopping cart program, like it’s predecessor, is designed to accept all major credit cards and be compatible with many payment gateways. However, ZenCart still lacks any real modular structure. This means that customizing by editing core files is required and heavy customizing makes the system a lot more work to update and maintain.


Agora is a little different than other open source shopping cart programs in that they require Perl 5.6X or higher to operate and claim to be more user friendly. Although there is still a lot of coding involved in setting up a shop with Agora. With their “drop in and go” codes, among many other features, and both free and paid support, it is said that even a person without previous programing experience can get a store up in 10-14 days. Plus, it is still a program that offers great flexibility for customization. However, many users of Agora who are without programming experience have given this product poor reviews, expressing frustration while setting up shop.

Open source shopping carts can definitely give you a customized appearance and a place to start. However, none of the free programs come with any warranty that they can provide the services that they claim. Still, they should be considered as a good way to customize your online business and a great way to save money.