When looking for a shopping cart for your e-commerce business, you will undoubtedly come across shopping carts that are labeled “open source.” You’ve probably even had sales reps or IT consultants recommend an open source shopping cart for your business. But you may be asking yourself: What makes open source shopping carts different? Are they affordable? Are they secure?
Let’s start at the beginning.
Just like all online shopping carts, open source shopping carts are software programs that allow customers to select goods or services online, place them in an online “cart,” and enter their credit card information and shipping details. “Open source” means the software isn’t subject to restrictive copyrights. You or your developers are able to access and edit the source code yourselves. You don’t have to pay a fee to make changes to the code, and you don’t have to pay the software company to customize the software for you.
Yes, open source shopping carts are free to download. Some open source software companies ask for a donation to support their development community. Depending on your own tech savvy, you may or may not require a paid tech staff to help set up or customize your cart–but the software itself is available at no cost.
In order to sell goods or services online, you’ll need to integrate your website and/or shopping cart with an online payment gateway. To make this possible, the code of your website or shopping cart has to be edited. This is when having an open source shopping cart comes in handy. Choosing an open source cart will let you change the code or have a developer change the code for you without violating your software license or having to pay an extra fee.
The simple answer to this question is: There is no simple answer.
Some people believe that the wide availability of open source code makes open source software vulnerable to security threats. However, many security experts argue that open source projects are often more secure than their proprietary, “closed source” equivalents. These experts believe that, because many more people review open source code, potential vulnerabilities are spotted earlier and fixed more quickly. Read more about whether open source software is secure.
In order to properly evaluate the security of an open source shopping cart, you need to look at the community around the project. If the community of developers who work on and with the software is active, and the project is constantly being developed, it is probably more secure than a less-active alternative. If you do decide to use an open source shopping cart, using the latest version and staying on top of security updates will help make sure your cart stays safe.
To learn about how Instabill’s tech team can help get your shopping cart up and running, contact us online or call 1-800-318-2713.