What do you use for a free e-commerce web app that can run smoothly on a typical shared host and fulfill the needs of your average small retail business?

Magento is powerful but has a nasty learning curve (one for templating and another one for coding) and doesn't run well on your average, cheap shared host. Documentation seems sparse (last I looked).

OpenCart looks like a good cart but it has code vulnerability problems and some developer temper tantrum issues.

osCommerce and Zencart both seem... crufty, I guess? The code seems kind of outdated, sprawling and somewhat hard to work with (at least, last time I looked it did).

So what do you use and why?

  • 1
    This should probably be a community wiki. Jul 8 '10 at 19:24
  • Violá, community wiki it is.
    – gaoshan88
    Jul 8 '10 at 19:36
  • 1
    This is off-topic here as per the FAQ However, please do keep an eye on this meta discussion As it discusses the possibility of having poll questions in some form or other on the site. Aug 1 '11 at 18:48

How about Spree? Also, Bitnami has a Spree installer, if you need it.

  • Looks pretty nice. How is RoR hosting on cheap, shared servers? Is it pretty common or are the number of hosts limited?
    – gaoshan88
    Jul 8 '10 at 20:03
  • I have no idea...anybody else?
    – jrc03c
    Jul 10 '10 at 0:20
  • @gaoshan88 I believe RoR is fairly common. Hostmonster I believe has RoR on their standard hosting.
    – WalterJ89
    Jul 23 '10 at 7:45

Check out My eStore App (http://myestoreapp.com); it's a plug and play estore module that integrates with paypal. It doesn't require an install or database setup or maintenance. It's a free service; they provide lifetime updates too.

There is no learning curve required. You can set up a shop right on your site in just a few minutes. It's plug and play.


For my projects, I've done a lot of work in Zen Cart mainly because the simplicity of the code makes it very easy for me to customize to my clients needs, and also it's a fairly lean platform so it works well with my clients on shared hosts who don't have the budget or need for a dedicated server.

OS Commerce actually is what Zen Cart was built off of, however today OS Commerce is more of a deprecated legacy system whereas Zen Cart is still maintained to some degree.

With Magento, I've been meaning to learn it, however for the most part I keep putting it off because every developer I know all shares the belief that it's more for sites with +1k items, and also the code is so resource intensive you'll need at least a VPS with 1GB of ram although usually it's best to run it on dedicated.

Magento can be modded for shared servers, however I've never done that myself because I've heard it's a very crude workaround and more trouble than it's worth.

Aside from the above, Open Cart and Presta Cart are the two systems I'm mainly focusing my efforts on mainly because the developers I know use it for many of their clients and also they are fairly agile and easy to develop with while also being fairly modern (unlike Zen Cart).

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