Unscientific reviews of various (mostly PHP) web shopping carts

Some time back I did a review of various web shopping carts.  In particular I needed a cart into which we could integrate a minor, third-party payment processing system.  We also wanted something that had the following functionality:

  1. multi-currency
  2. multi-lingual
  3. registration management
  4. mailing list management

These are the carts that I found in the order they were discovered and reviewed.

APIs and Frameworks

Started on the assumption that we would want to build and manage our own shopping cart.  It quickly become apparent that a customizable stand-alone application would get us more functionality with less mucking around.

  • Webforce Cart
    Very simple shopping cart class.  After a quick review, decided that it would be better to use something inside a framework like Cake or Symfony.
  • sfShoppingCart
    Shopping cart module for Symfony.  Played around with this but quickly realized that, even in a framework, maintaining a custom cart would fairly troublesome for my simple needs.
  • phpShop
    Another simple, rails-esque cart.  Seems to be a framework built specifically for the shopping cart.  Would still probably use sfShoppingCart over this.
  • Quick.Cart
    Very nicely done, simple cart.  Installed and played around with it a bit.  Difficult to modify the layout; template updating problems.

Stand-Alone Applications
Lots and lots of apps out there.  I was surprised, however, to discover that many of them are branches of earlier code bases.

  • Nexternal Solutions “Ecommerce Shopping Cart”
    Aggressive Google advertising.  Ugly.  ASP-based.  No way.
  • osCommerce
    This has been around a long time; looked at this originally five years ago for another project.  Lots of web shops out there using osCommerce, but developers complain that it is difficult to integrate and maintain.   Admin interface looks like it needs work.
  • Zen Cart
    Fork of osCommerce and, now, possibly the most famous open source shopping cart solution.  Installed and mucked around with it.  Confusing, clumsy interface, though better than the osCommerce original.  Lots of complaints from developers.  Many recommend switching to CubeCart.
  • CRE Loaded
    Another Fork of osCommerce with a corporation behind it.   Nice marketing website.  Same poor admin interface.
  • osCMax
    Yet another fork of osCommerce with (maybe) Drupal integration.
  • xt:Commerce
    And yet another fork of osCommerce.  Corporate backing like CRE Loaded.  Seem to be pursuing global distribution; based out of Germany.  Spanish version on the way.
  • Miva Merchant
    Looks as though this might be the most “enterprise” of the shopping carts.  Starting price:  $995.00.  Pricey.
  • X-Cart
    Comparable to CubeCart but no free version.  Lots of complaints that cost of additional modules rapidly builds up.
  • AgoraCart
    Nasty green interface.
  • Squirrelcart
  • phpCart
    Looked great, but seems to have been replaced by PHP Super Cart which appears to be… even yet another fork of osCommerce.  Ugh.
  • CubeCart
    Good reviews.  Open source and very reasonable commercial models (one-time payment as opposed to recurring  licensing fees).   Easy to localize.  Good currency manager.  Stylesheet-based templates are a little awkward.  Very active development and fairly strong community support including skins and modules.

In the end we went with CubeCart.  So far it’s been “okay”.  Template organization is indeed haphazard; it can be difficult to figure out which templates apply to which step in the purchasing process.  Documentation is also fairly thin on the ground.  And though we paid for support, the replies that come back are fairly unsupportive.

Nevertheless, integrating the third party payment system was not too difficult.  I can recommend CubeCart.. with reservations.  Look around for your own alternatives and settle on this if it seems suitable.

4 thoughts on “Unscientific reviews of various (mostly PHP) web shopping carts

  1. Hi,

    PHP Super Cart is not OSCommerce. It was written from the ground up to be compatible with PHP Cart (phpcart.net) yet more powerful. It has it’s own template system that is very easy to use. This allows you to integrate PHP Super Cart into your own designed website. PHP Super Cart allows unlimited products, categories, images, text items, options and more.


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