Open Source eCommerce That Let's Your Customers Shop With The Best

Open Source Friday Focus this week is on Magento, the leading open source eCommerce solution

eCommerce has certainly come a long way since I started using the Internet 15 or so years ago. Around then the "Amazon experience" was extraordinary. Now using open source eCommerce software from Magento, you can create an online shopping experience that will rival Amazon and some of the biggest merchants on the net.

Back in the late 90's most sites used what we called "shopping cart" applications to build an eCommerce store. Of course some of these were pretty rudimentary. Just clicking on a picture of an item which fired off an email to contact you to buy was considered eCommerce. If you had a shopping cart that created a database of items, prices and shipping options and the pages where created on "the fly", whoa, that was big time. You had to pay some serious cash for that kind of functionality.Of course updating prices, running specials and any number of other retail functions required amazing acts of programming skill. But that is not the case anymore.

Today there are a wide range of eCommerce platforms that can let you duplicate the terrific experience that Amazon and other online merchants offer. One such solution is an open source platform called Magento. Magento has been downloaded over a million times since 2001. Owned and developed by Varien, it is offered under a dual licensed model. The community edition is a free open source edition with only forum support. Varien also offers an enterprise edition with even more features and premium support. Varien describes Magento as:

Magento is a feature-rich, professional open-source eCommerce solution that offers merchants complete flexibility and control over the look, content, and functionality of their online store. Magento’s powerful marketing, search engine optimization and catalog-management tools give merchants the power to create ecommerce sites that are tailored to their unique business needs. And this ain't your dad's shopping cart either!

A list of features available is pretty shocking:

Marketing Promotions and Tools

  • Flexible Coupons (pricing rules) with ability to restrict to stores, customer groups, time period, products, and categories.
  • Catalog Promotional Pricing

Analytics and Reporting

<li>Admin Dashboard for Report Overview</li><li>Abandoned Shopping Cart Report</li><li>Best Customers Report by Total and Number of Orders</li>

Search Engine Optimization

<li>Google Site Map</li><li>URL Rewrites give full control of URL's</li><li>Meta-information for products and categories</li>

Site Management

<li>Control multiple websites and stores from one Administration Panel with ability to share as much or as little information as needed</li><li>Web Services API for easy integration between Magento and any third-party application</li><li>One-Click Upgrades</li><li>Google Website Optimizer Integration for A/B and Multivariate Testing</li>

Catalog Management

<li>Batch Import and Export of catalog</li><li>Google Base Integration</li><li>Downloadable/Digital Products</li><li>Advanced Pricing Rules and support for Special Prices (see marketing tools)</li>

Catalog Browsing

<li>Layered / Faceted Navigation for filtering of products in Categories</li><li>Layered / Faceted Navigation for filtering of products in Search Results</li><li>Product comparisons</li><li>Product Reviews</li>

Product Browsing

<li>Multiple Images Per Product</li><li>Product Image Zoom-in Capability</li>

Mobile Commerce

    <a href="http://www.magentocommerce.com/extension/303/iphone-theme">iPhone Optimized</a>

International Support

<li>Multi-Lingual</li><li>Support for Multiple Currencies</li>

Checkout

<li>One-Page Checkout</li><li>Checkout without account/Guest Checkout</li><li>Shipping to multiple addresses in one order</li>

Shipping

<li>Shipping to multiple addresses in one order</li><li>Multiple shipments per order</li><li>Free Shipping</li>

Payment

<li>Integrated with Google Checkout (Level 2)</li><li>Payment Extensions Available through Magento Connect</li><li>Configurable to authorize and charge, or authorize only and charge on creation of invoices</li><li><div class="col-1"><h4><a href="http://www.magentocommerce.com/product/features/customer-service/view"><span style="font-weight: normal;">Customer Service</span></a></h4><ul class="disc"><li>Feature-rich Customer Accounts</li><li>Order Tracking from Account</li></ul><p><strong><a href="http://www.magentocommerce.com/product/features/customer-accounts1/view"><span style="font-weight: normal;">Customer Accounts</span></a></strong></p></div><div class="col-2"><ul class="disc"><li>Re-orders from account</li><li>Downloadable Products</li><li>Recently ordered items</li></ul><p><strong><a href="http://www.magentocommerce.com/product/features/order-management/view"><span style="font-weight: normal;">Order Management</span></a></strong></p></div><div class="col-3"><ul class="disc"><li>View, edit, create and fulfill orders from admin panel.</li><li>Create one or multiple invoices, shipments and credit memos per order to allow for split fulfillment</li></ul></div></li>

I think you would have to agree that there are few stones left unturned in the eCommerce feature set. The experience of the store builder is equally as rich. Varien has You Tube videos that walk you through every step of the way.They also offer a forum, wiki and a host of other great ways to interact with the large community of fellow store designers, but the company as well.

I am enclosing a few screen shots and a YouTube to give you an idea of what I am talking about. Magento runs a variety of platforms. If you are in search of a great eCommerce solution that gives you all the bells and whistles, this open source gem could put you right up there with biggest and best on the web!

Example of front of Magento Store:

Example of back of store admin:

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