e-Commerce software: Free / low-cost options | BDC.ca
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Free and low-cost e-commerce software for your business

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If you are interested in expanding your sales, using a virtual store to attract online shoppers may be the answer you have been looking for. Whether you are selling directly to consumers (B2C) or to other businesses (B2B), e-commerce is a great way to grow your customer base beyond your region. Fortunately, with e-commerce storefront software, setting up your own online store has never been easier.

How does e-commerce software help?

E-commerce software allows you to:

  • sell products and services online with minimal upfront investment
  • sell more easily and quickly
  • reach customers 24/7
  • expand your company’s geographic reach
  • improve your firm’s online visibility
  • lower customer service costs
  • automate some functions and allow customers to serve themselves
  • increase customer retention and loyalty, and
  • sell your products without maintaining a physical inventory.

What does e-commerce software do?

A basic e-commerce storefront is a web-based system that allows customers to shop for products and helps streamline the order fulfillment process. Regardless of the software you choose, you should be able to:

  • set up an online store with a shopping cart
  • accept payments online with PayPal and/or major credit cards
  • build an online product catalogue
  • optimize your webpages for online searches
  • automate inventory control
  • implement a tracking system
  • analyze your performance with reports and statistics, and
  • use online marketing techniques, such as interactive advertising, email marketing, social media or mobile marketing.

Free and low-cost e-commerce solutions

E-commerce solutions range from basic storefronts that simply manage e-mail orders to complex systems integrated with multiple aspects of your business. If you are looking for low-cost or free tools, you may want to consider the following. (SaaS refers to “software as a service.”)

Revised July 2015

  Free English French English support French support Data stored in Canada Cloud or SaaS Social integration
3dcart
3dcart is offered in English 3dcart is partly offered in French 3dcart offers support in English 3dcart uses the cloud or SaaS 3dcart allows social integration

3dcart is a simple, affordable e-commerce platform. It offers fully customizable website templates with mobile-ready, responsive themes, as well as UPS and FedEx label printing. The company also provides mCommerce and social commerce functionalities. The storefront can be in French, but the administrative interface is in English. There are no transaction fees.

AgoraCart
AgoraCart is free AgoraCart is offered in English AgoraCart offers support in English AgoraCart has data stored in Canada

AgoraCart is an open-source e-commerce solution that offers unlimited products and categories, and lots of flexibility to control your storefront’s design. The community edition is available for free but requires some degree of HTML and Perl programming knowledge. You will also need to either host it yourself or purchase a separate web hosting account.

Bigcommerce
Bigcommerce is offered in English Bigcommerce offers support in English Bigcommerce uses the cloud or SaaS Bigcommerce allows social integration

Bigcommerce is a search engine-friendly e-commerce platform that allows you to promote your products on Facebook, eBay and shopping comparison websites. If you already run a bricks-and-mortar store, you can take advantage of omnichannel retailing with its in-store pickup option. Bigcommerce merchants also have direct access to Alibaba.com wholesale suppliers, to help them find competitive prices and realize better profit margins.

CoreCommerce
CoreCommerce is offered in English CoreCommerce is partly offered in French CoreCommerce offers support in English CoreCommerce uses the cloud or SaaS CoreCommerce allows social integration

CoreCommerce is an e-commerce solution that is very similar to Pinnacle Cart. Some of the features that set it apart from other solutions include excellent social media integration and responsive design themes. It works with Canada Post and also lets you create bilingual sites where the customer decides which language he or she prefers.

Liki
Liki is offered in English Liki is offered in French Liki offers support in English Liki offers support in French Liki has data stored in Canada Liki uses the cloud or SaaS Liki allows social integration

Liki is an e-commerce platform developed by a Montreal company that can help you create an online store, manage your inventory, process transactions and expedite shipping, all within the same system.

Panierdachat.com
Panierdachat.com is offered in English Panierdachat.com is offered in French Panierdachat.com offers support in English Panierdachat.com offers support in French Panierdachat.com has data stored in Canada Panierdachat.com uses the cloud or SaaS Panierdachat.com allows social integration

Panierdachat.com offers a robust and scalable e-commerce shopping cart. With a comprehensive range of features including a secure solution that is PCI compliant to protect you against credit card fraud, Facebook and mobile commerce storefront, web-design tools, inventory management tools, and seamless integration with Intuit Quickbooks, it makes selling on the Internet almost easy.

Pinnacle Cart
Pinnacle Cart is offered in English Pinnacle is partly offered in French Pinnacle Cart offers support in English Pinnacle Cart uses the cloud or SaaS Pinnacle Cart allows social integration

Pinnacle Cart offers a robust and scalable e-commerce shopping cart, especially if you’re looking for a solution that supports multiple languages and multiple currencies. Additional features include PCI compliancy (to protect you against credit card fraud), mobile templates, inventory management tools, and direct integration with Facebook and QuickBooks.

PrestaShop
PrestaShop is free PrestaShop is offered in English PrestaShop is offered in French PrestaShop offers support in English PrestaShop offers support in French PrestaShop has data stored in Canada PrestaShop uses the cloud or SaaS PrestaShop allows social integration

PrestaShop gives you two free options: PrestaShop or PrestaShop Cloud. The first one is a downloadable open-source e-commerce solution, which has empowered over 230,000 stores worldwide. It can be hosted wherever you choose. PrestaShop Cloud, on the other hand, is a fully hosted and supported e-commerce solution. While both solutions are free, you will have to pay for additional modules and plugins for social sharing, SEO, analytics, etc.

Shopify
Shopify is offered in English Shopify is offered in French Shopify offers support in English Shopify uses the cloud or SaaS Shopify allows social integration

Shopify is Canada’s leading cloud-based e-commerce platform. It enables merchants to build and manage stores across all channels, including web, mobile, social media, and brick-and-mortar locations. Shopify charges a small transaction fee for every sale you make. The administrative interface is in English, but the shop itself can be in the language of your choice. The company is based in Ottawa and recently went public.

Shopping Cart Elite
Shopping Cart Elite is offered in English Shopping Cart Elite offers support in English Shopping Cart Elite uses the cloud or SaaS Shopping Cart Elite allows social integration

Shopping Cart Elite was initially reserved to companies with over $4M per year in online sales, but it has recently introduced a package for small businesses. What makes it stand out is that you can automate almost everything, from inventory management to order processing accounting, multi-channel marketing and SEO, to name a few.

Spark Pay
Spark Pay is offered in English Spark Pay offers support in English Spark Pay uses the cloud or SaaS Spark Pay allows social integration

Spark Pay is a comprehensive e-commerce platform that allows you to run multiple stores using a single backend. All templates are fully customizable, using a drag-and-drop interface, and they integrate tightly with social media. Spark Pay even provides a Facebook login button to accelerate authentication when shoppers want to sign in from their Facebook accounts.

Volusion
Volusion is offered in English Volusion offers support in English Volusion uses the cloud or SaaS Volusion allows social integration

Volusion offers an all-in-one solution. Highlights include the ability to set up shop on Facebook, responsive templates, eBay and Amazon integration, flexible options to process tax charges, inventory management features, a built-in e-mail marketing and newsletter system, powerful affiliate tools, outstanding security tools, and a new app that enables merchants to manage their store from their Android smartwatch.

WooCommerce
WooCommerce is free WooCommerce is offered in English WooCommerce has data stored in Canada WooCommerce allows social integration

WooCommerce is a free downloadable e-commerce plugin for WordPress users that is easy to use and extremely customizable. Most features are available out-of-the-box, but if you need extra functionality, you can also tap into an impressive list of extensions.

Yahoo! Small Business
Yahoo! Small Business is offered in English Yahoo! Small Business offers support in English Yahoo! Small Business uses the cloud or SaaS Yahoo! Small Business allows social integration

Yahoo! Small Business offers web hosting, domain names and e-commerce services, but you may not be able to get a Canadian (.ca) domain. The e-commerce option includes features such as store design, a quick shopping cart that allows shoppers to pay by credit card or PayPal, and shipping services. Just like Shopify, Yahoo! charges a small transaction fee in addition to the monthly flat rate.

Zen Cart
Zen Cart is always free Zen Cart is offered in English Zen Cart is offered in French Zen Cart partly offers support in English Zen Cart partly offers support in French Zen Cart has data stored in Canada

Zen Cart is a free-open source shopping cart software application that you can either host on your own server or delegate to an affiliate hosting company. It is highly customizable and offers a wide array of features that can be extended by hundreds of custom, downloadable plugins and integrations. It may, however, be a little intimidating for people with no PHP/My SQL programming skills.

This table lists applications alphabetically and isn’t exhaustive. Hyperlinks to external sites do not constitute endorsement by BDC of those websites or any information, opinions, products or services expressed or described on them.

Furthermore, the list is only a starting point and excludes applications that are neither low cost nor free. We have also focused on turnkey solutions rather than on solutions that you can integrate into an existing website. When assessing e-commerce software for your organization, you will probably consider many other factors. It is important to shop around and compare different e-commerce platforms to choose the one that meets your specific business needs and budget, including hidden costs.

BDC will review and edit this list regularly. If you are an e-commerce software vendor and would like us to consider adding your solution, please contact us.

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