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 April 2016

  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 interface makes it easy to sell anywhere, anytime: from mobile phones and tablets with m-commerce capabilities to live tradeshows and events with 3dcart’s Point of Sales (POS) app, and even on your own Facebook Store. The storefront can be in French, but the administrative interface is in English. There are no transaction fees.

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, Twitter, 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. And if online fraud is one of your growing concerns, its sophisticated fraud detection and prevention tool will help you reduce the risk of fraudulent orders.

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 client decides which language he or she prefers.
Note: the company was purchased on January 26, 2016, but it is too early to tell what they intend to change (name, etc.)

Dexero eCommerce
Dexero eCommerce is offered in English Dexero eCommerce is offered in French Dexero eCommerce offers support in English Dexero eCommerce offers support in French Dexero eCommerce has data stored in Canada Dexero uses the cloud or SaaS

Dexero eCommerce is a complete, bilingual and secure e-commerce solution that meets the needs of retailers, universities, colleges, donation organizations, and event organizers. Developed and hosted in Canada, it is compatible with Canadian tax rules, including Quebec rules, and it accepts payments via Desjardins 3D secure, Moneris, TD and PayPal.

ECWid
ECWid is free ECWid eCommerce is offered in English ECWid eCommerce is offered in French ECWid eCommerce offers support in English ECWid uses the cloud or SaaS ECWid allows social integration

ECWid is a good way to start if you want to quickly add an online store to your existing site. ECwid comes with many nice features, including responsive design, social commerce, international payment options, and a vast selection of languages. You should note, however, that ECwid does not let you create an e-commerce store in two languages. The free plan allows you to sell up to 10 products and ECwid never charges transaction fees, but the paid plans come with additional features like enhanced SEO capabilities, and better support options.

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. The company also offers the possibility of creating marketplace templates where products from multiple Liki Boutiques are grouped under one theme.

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 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 options are free, you will have to pay for additional modules and plugins for social sharing, SEO, analytics, etc. You may want to pay particular attention to their terms of service, which, in the case of PrestaShop Cloud, fall under the jurisdiction of France.

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. It even offers the option of same-day delivery through a partnership with UberRush. 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. Shopify is a public company based in Ottawa.

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, formerly known as AmeriCommerce before its acquisition by Capital One, 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. If the 14-day trial convinces you, make sure you select a subscription plan that provides enough bandwidth and storage to avoid overage fees. There are no set-up or transaction fees though.

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.

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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