Five shopping carts you need to know about before building your website

Starting your own online business or unhappy with your existing website? Here are some shopping cart platforms that might suit your needs.


What is it? Volusion is one of the oldest e-commerce software development companies and amongst the first to provide an online shopping cart. It was launched in 1999 by Kevin Sproles, a website developer who started the company from his parent’s bedroom. It now supports 40,000 stores with over 21 billion in merchant sales to date.

What features does it offer? Volusion is a hosted shopping cart (meaning that your website is hosted on Neto’s servers) that allows lots of customisation. It offers web design, web marketing and inventory management. Design-wise, Volusion offers several free templates, as well as options for paid premium templates. As a payment gateway it accepts all major credit cards and also offers payment options like PayPal and Google Wallet.

What are the tech specs I need to know about? You build your website by customising Volusion’s themes and templates. There’s lots of support documentation if you’re doing it yourself, or you can engage Volusion to build the website for you. Apart from the online retail basics like online payments and shipping, Volusion will help you manage and monitor your inventory, even providing alerts when stock is low. The company also helps you to optimise your content, post to social networks, send emails and create daily deals, and has a mobile app so that you can manage your website when away from your computer.

What kind of online business does it suit? Volusion suits start-ups and small online retailers right through to wholesalers.

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Online jewellery: Nissa Jewelry
Prints and gifts: The Native State
Men’s sunglasses retailer: Shades Daddy


What is it? WooCommerce is an online retail plugin for WordPress websites. It’s had almost 14.8 million downloads and the company estimates WooCommerce is used by more than 37 per cent of all online stores worldwide. You can use the plugin to sell physical and virtual products online.

What features does it offer? WooCommerce offers more than 300 extensions – some free and some that you pay for – that allow you to integrate accounting software, inventory management, delivery, online bookings, voucher sales and more.

What are the tech specs I need to know about? WooCommerce is an open-source platform, so contributors can create new code, themes and extensions.

What kind of online business does it suit? Your site must be built on WordPress, but WooCommerce caters to online businesses small and large.

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Men’s fashion: Blytheswood
Energy bar retailer: Ally’s Bar


What is it? Magento is an open-source e-commerce platform, released by Californian company Varien in 2008. By May 2015 the company’s market share among the 30 most popular e-commerce platforms was about 30 per cent and over US$50 billion in gross merchandise volume is transacted on the platform annually. In November 2015, Magento 2.0 was released, with an aim to provide new ways to heighten user engagement, smooth navigation and generate revenue. It has well-organised business-user tools and enhances productivity.

What features does it offer? Magento allows users to integrate several different domain names into one control panel and manage more than one storefront at a time from a single admin panel. It has good search engine optimisation features and offers support for multiple languages and currencies. It also has some great marketing tools such as a new items promotional tool and polls and newsletter management.

What are the tech specs I need to know about? Magento provides a basic theme that sets up an e-commerce website and users can also install themes that change the display of the website or its functionality.

What kind of online business does it suit? Magento has lots of modules that can handle the complexity of enterprise-level e-commerce.

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Women’s fashion: Talulah
Cosmetics: Chi Chi


What is it? Straightsell is an e-commerce platform with exceptional in-built stock management and accounting integration. The company was founded in Adelaide in 1999 and purchased by SecurePay in 2007. Between July 2014 and June 2015, Straightsell merchants processed orders worth more than A$58.69 million – a 22.7 per cent increase on the previous year.

What features does it offer? Straightsell integrates with MYOB, Reckon, SAP Business One and other popular accounting software, automatically capturing each online sale, so you don’t have to enter online sales manually into your books. As stock sells, your inventory is also automatically updated.

What are the tech specs I need to know about? Straightsell is a hosted shopping cart that offers a number of customisable designs, all with responsive design. You can upload an unlimited number of products.

What kind of online business does it suit? Straightsell is ideal for B2B online businesses and wholesalers or B2C businesses that have large inventory.

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B2B sports medical equipment suppliers: Club Warehouse
Online comic store: Kings Comics


What is it? OpenCart is a free open-source shopping cart platform. Daniel Kerr, a UK developer, released OpenCart version 1.1.1 in 2009 and the most recent version – – was released in March 2016. According to <link:>, OpenCart currently powers over 341,000 websites.

What features does it offer? You can have unlimited categories and products with OpenCart. It integrates with 20-plus payment gateways (including SecurePay) and more than eight shipping methods. As with WooCommerce, you can also add free or paid-for extensions that generate website analytics reports, calculate shipping for different countries, generate quotes for customers and more. There are video tutorials and free user guides to help you build and run your online store.

What are the tech specs I need to know about? OpenCart has a template system built in so you can easily switch between different templates or migrate the current look of your site into OpenCart.

What kind of online business does it suit? Because it’s free, OpenCart could be a good option for start-ups if you have a bit of development know-how.

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Pet grooming: nose2tail
Mobile phone accessories: ZCASE

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