e-commerce software - Free solutions and services | BDC.ca

E-commerce software

Did you know that, according to Forrester Research, consumers in Canada spent $20 billion online in 2013 and that this number is supposed to reach $34 billion by 2018? It would then represent about 10% of total retail transactions in Canada.

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 January 2014

  Free Low cost English French English support French support Data stored in Canada Cloud or SaaS Social integration
3dcart 3dcart isn't free 3dcart has a low cost 3dcart is offered in English 3dcart is partly offered in French 3dcart offers support in English 3dcart partly offers support in French 3dcart doesn’t have data stored in Canada 3dcart uses the cloud or SaaS 3dcart allows social integration
Acomba e-commerce Acomba e-commerce isn't free Acomba e-commerce has a low cost Acomba e-commerce is offered in English Acomba e-commerce is offered in French Acomba e-commerce offers support in English Acomba e-commerce offers support in French Acomba e-commerce has data stored in Canada Acomba e-commerce uses the cloud or SaaS Acomba e-commerce allows social integration
AgoraCart AgoraCart is free AgoraCart has a low cost AgoraCart is offered in English AgoraCart isn’t offered in French AgoraCart offers support in English AgoraCart doesn't offer support in French AgoraCart doesn’t have data stored in Canada AgoraCart uses the cloud or SaaS AgoraCart doesn't allow social integration
Ashop Commerce Ashop Commerce isn't free Ashop Commerce has a low cost Ashop Commerce is offered in English Ashop Commerce isn't offered in French Ashop Commerce offers support in English Ashop Commerce doesn't offer support in French Ashop Commerce doesn’t have data stored in Canada Ashop Commerce uses the cloud or SaaS Ashop Commerce allows social integration
Bigcommerce Bigcommerce isn't free Bigcommerce has a low cost Bigcommerce is offered in English Bigcommerce isn’t offered in French Bigcommerce offers support in English Bigcommerce doesn't offer support in French Bigcommerce doesn’t have data stored in Canada Bigcommerce uses the cloud or SaaS Bigcommerce allows social integration
CoreCommerce CoreCommerce isn't free CoreCommerce has a low cost CoreCommerce is offered in English CoreCommerce is offered in French CoreCommerce offers support in English CoreCommerce doesn't offer support in French CoreCommerce doesn’t have data stored in Canada CoreCommerce uses the cloud or SaaS CoreCommerce allows social integration
Highwire Highwire isn't free Highwire has a low cost Highwire is offered in English Highwire isn't offered in French Highwire offers support in English Highwire doesn't offer support in French Highwire doesn’t have data stored in Canada Highwire uses the cloud or SaaS Highwire allows social integration
LemonStand LemonStand isn't free LemonStand has a low cost LemonStand is offered in English LemonStand isn't offered in French LemonStand offers support in English LemonStand doesn't offer support in French --- LemonStand doesn’t use the cloud or SaaS LemonStand partly allows social integration
Magento Go Magento Go isn't free Magento Go has a low cost Magento Go is offered in English Magento Go is offered in French Magento Go offers support in English Magento Go doesn't offer support in French Magento Go doesn’t have data stored in Canada Magento Go uses the cloud or SaaS Magento Go partly allows social integration
OpenCart OpenCart is free OpenCart has a low cost OpenCart is offered in English OpenCart is offered in French* OpenCart offers support in English OpenCart partly offers support in French* OpenCart doesn’t have data stored in Canada OpenCart uses the cloud or SaaS OpenCart allows social integration
Panierdachat.com Panierdachat.com isn't free Panierdachat.com has a low cost 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 doesn’t allow social integration
Pinnacle Cart Pinnacle Cart isn't free Pinnacle Cart has a low cost Pinnacle Cart is offered in English Pinnacle Cart isn't offered in French Pinnacle Cart offers support in English Pinnacle Cart doesn't offer support in French Pinnacle Cart has data stored in Canada Pinnacle Cart uses the cloud or SaaS Pinnacle Cart allows social integration
PrestaShop PrestaShop is free PrestaShop has a low cost 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 partly allows social integration
ProStores ProStores isn't free ProStores has a low cost ProStores is offered in English ProStores is partly offered in French ProStores offers support in English ProStores doesn't offer support in French ProStores doesn’t have data stored in Canada ProStores uses the cloud or SaaS ProStores allows social integration
Shopify Shopify isn't free Shopify has a low cost Shopify is offered in English Shopify is partly offered in French Shopify offers support in English Shopify doesn't offer support in French Shopify doesn’t have data stored in Canada Shopify uses the cloud or SaaS Shopify allows social integration
Volusion Volusion isn't free Volusion has a low cost Volusion is offered in English Volusion is partly offered in French Volusion offers support in English Volusion doesn't offer support in French Volusion doesn’t have data stored in Canada Volusion uses the cloud or SaaS Volusion allows social integration
Yahoo! Small Business Yahoo! Small Business isn't free Yahoo! Small Business has a low cost Yahoo! Small Business is offered in English Yahoo! Small Business is partly offered in French Yahoo! Small Business offers support in English Yahoo! Small Business doesn't offer support in French Yahoo! Small Business doesn’t have data stored in Canada Yahoo! Small Business uses the cloud or SaaS Yahoo! Small Business partly allows social integration
Zen Cart Zen Cart is always free --- Zen Cart is offered in English Zen Cart isn't offered in French Zen Cart partly offers support in English Zen Cart doesn't offer support in French --- Zen Cart doesn't use the cloud or SaaS Zen Cart allows social integration
3dcart

3dcart is a simple, affordable e-commerce platform. It offers fully customizable website templates, as well as UPS and FedEx label printing. The storefront can be in French, but the administrative interface is in English. There are no transaction fees and the company has recently added mCommerce functionalities to help iPhone and Android users shop directly from their mobile device.

Acomba e-commerce

Acomba e-commerce is an affordable, secure, multilingual, turnkey online commerce solution that is fully compatible with Acomba’s accounting software. The service has four price tiers, depending on the number of products, bandwidth and storage space you require.

AgoraCart

AgoraCart is an open-source e-commerce solution that offers unlimited products and categories, and lots of flexibility to control your storefront’s design through cascading style sheets (CSS). The community edition is available for free, but the gold version provides additional benefits for a small one-time fee.

Ashop Commerce

Ashop Commerce allows you to build a complete online store with an extensive list of features, including more than 60 editable design templates, a Facebook store and mobile storefront, a built-in marketing newsletter, the possibility of sending conditional emails, a search-engine optimized infrastructure, integrated metrics, and 24-hour customer support.

Bigcommerce

Bigcommerce is a search engine-friendly e-commerce platform that allows you to promote your products on Facebook, eBay and shopping comparison websites such as Shopzilla, as well as through mobile devices. It also allows you to set an in-store pickup option, thus supporting omni-channel retailing. You can also sync your orders, products and inventory with your QuickBooks accounting software.

CoreCommerce

CoreCommerce is an e-commerce solution that is very similar to Pinnacle Cart, although it puts a limit on the number of products you can have in inventory. It does however offer 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.

Highwire

Highwire started as a platform for managing your listings on eBay and now offers a full e-commerce solution. It is a good option for beginners, but it may lack some features for long-term scalability.

LemonStand

LemonStand is a flexible and powerful PHP e-commerce platform that programmers and professional designers appreciate for its flexibility. Unlike SaaS platforms, LemonStand is available for a one-time flat fee, but you’ll also need to pay for a hosting service and additional support tickets. Users who are not very tech savvy may need help to set it up. Social integration is available as an optional paid module.

Magento Go

Magento, owned by eBay Inc., offers an affordable online service: Magento Go. It requires no software installation and no technical expertise. The administration control panel is offered in both French and English, and social media integration is available via third parties.

OpenCart

OpenCart is a very popular open-source e-commerce platform because of its intuitive interface and scalability. The user interface is in English, but the software supports multiple languages, currencies, shipping methods and payment options.
The French version and French support are only available for users in France.

Pinnacle Cart

Pinnacle Cart 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.

Panierdachat.com

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.

PrestaShop

PrestaShop claims to be the world’s leading open-source e-commerce solution, powering more than 150,000 stores worldwide. It is very easy to install and customize, especially for merchants with multiple stores. If you don’t want to download PrestaShop, you can still work with their hosting partner. The base product is free, although you’ll have to pay for hosting, additional modules and plug-ins. It also comes with Facebook, Pinterest and Google + social media buttons.

ProStores

ProStores is an eBay-owned e-commerce solution that is both powerful and easy to use. The pricing model includes a monthly subscription fee based on the number of products featured in your store and a 0.5% transaction fee, which can be a good option for small merchants that are just starting out. The one-month free trial can help you decide whether it is the right e-commerce platform for your business.

Shopify

Shopify is Canada’s leading e-commerce platform. You can upgrade or downgrade your plan at any time. Unlike other solutions that force you to go through a third-party payment gateway, Shopify’s cart accepts credit cards and PayPal payments, and now even payments with Bitcoin. In addition to the traditional like/share buttons, Shopify apps make it easy to set up Facebook stores right from your Facebook fan page. The administrative interface is in English, but the shop itself can be in the language of your choice. The company is based in Ottawa.

Volusion

Volusion offers an all-in-one solution. Highlights include the ability to set up shop on Facebook, eBay and Amazon integrations, a streamlined mobile storefront, flexible options to process tax charges, inventory management features, a built-in e-mail marketing and newsletter system, powerful affiliate tools, and outstanding security tools.

Yahoo! Small Business

Yahoo! Small Business offers web hosting, domain names and e-commerce services. 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, whereas many other solution providers have a fixed monthly subscription model. There is also a setup fee.

Zen Cart

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.

Share