Open Source E-Commerce: Survey Rates the Best in OSC

This year the upstart New osCommerce Project was crowned Best Open Source Commerce program by respondents in Kerry Watson's Second Annual Open Source Commerce survey.
What a difference a year makes. Rarely does an industry landscape change so radically in just 12 short months. This year the upstart New osCommerce Project was crowned Best Open Source Commerce program by respondents in my Second Annual Open Source Commerce survey. It was followed by CRE Loaded, the original osCommerce, Magento, PrestaShop and a long list of "Other open source commerce programs."

Best Open Source Commerce Program: Then and Now

A year ago, the CRE Loaded version of osCommerce was crowned best open source commerce program by respondents, followed by Zen Cart, osCMAX and osCommerce.

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This year 39 percent of respondents voted for the winner New osCommerce Project, an offshoot of the moribund original osCommerce. This year's winner is followed closely by CRE Loaded with 36 percent of respondents. Last year CRE Loaded was far and away the winner, receiving votes three to one over the second place program. The original osCommerce maintains its third-place position, same as last year, but just barely, after receiving only 10 percent of all votes.

Survey Reveals Greater Industry Fragmentation

Last year the vast majority of votes went to osCommerce, CRE Loaded, Zen Cart and osCMAX, and there were virtually no "Other" votes. This year, only CRE Loaded remains in the top three. Two newcomers — the New osCommerce Project and Magento — pushed last year's second place ties, Zen Cart and osCMAX, off of this year's top tier.

An explosion of changes in the industry last year led a full 15 percent of this year's respondents to vote for other programs including Magento, PrestaShop, CS-Cart and a handful of other programs.

A year ago, Magento Commerce, a new open source e-commerce program that enjoyed wild popularity when it debuted in April last year, was not yet released for the last survey. Through most of the past year it looked like Magento was a sure thing to win, place or show, but was suddenly eclipsed with the release of the New osCommerce Project in November.

Individual Category Winners

When a program is viewed in only one category, the results can be very different. To help prevent the vote from being a pure popularity contest, the supporting survey questions are designed to help find out exactly why respondents nominate a particular program. This is because the programs have different strengths that appeal to different types of users, so it helps us to validate the data. It's also an effective method because users value different things — for instance, one user will consider a program the best because it is easiest to upgrade while another because it is friendly to store owners or customers.

In my survey, for example, voters are asked to choose only the program easiest to install, and PrestaShop is the winner in that category. Zen Cart is still the winner for easiest to upgrade.

CRE Loaded was given the highest rating by its voters in the greatest number of categories, including easiest to make additions, and most friendly to customers, store owners and Web pros.

PrestaShop, the second-newest program on the market with a July launch last year, was given the highest rating by its voters as easiest to install, and was rated very high as well for upgrading and friendliness to Web pros.

New osCommerce Project, launched in November, received high ratings by voters for easiest to install, make additions, upgrade, and friendliness to Web pros. It is basically the original osCommerce, but with the code cleaned up and no contributions installed, so it makes sense that it would win in these categories.

Interestingly, Magento was rated by its voters as very customer-friendly and store-owner friendly, but very unfriendly to Web pros. This may be because the architecture of the program is radically different from the other open source programs, forcing Web pros to invest a lot of time learning before they are able to use it.

Winners by individual category:

Easiest to Install: PrestaShop
Easiest to make additions: CRE Loaded
Easiest to upgrade: Zen Cart
Most friendly: CRE Loaded

Overall Winner by # of Votes* Voted easiest
to Install
Voted easiest
to make additions
Voted easiest
to upgrade
Voted most
customer-friendly
Voted most friendly
to store owners
Voted most friendly
to Web pros
Overall Winner
by Weighted Rating**
New osCommerce
Project
PrestaShop CRE loaded Zen Cart CRE loaded CRE loaded CRE loaded CRE loaded
CRE Loaded CRE loaded PrestaShop PrestaShop Magento Magento PrestaShop PrestaShop
Original osCommerce New osCommerce Project New osCommerce Project New osCommerce Project PrestaShop PrestaShop New osCommerce Project New osCommerce Project
Magento Magento Magento Magento Zen Cart Zen Cart Zen Cart Magento
PrestaShop Original osCommerce Original osCommerce CRE loaded New osCommerce Project Original osCommerce Magento Zen Cart
Zen Cart Zen Cart Zen Cart Original osCommerce Original osCommerce New osCommerce Project Original osCommerce Original osCommerce

*Overall Winner is the raw popularity, the program that received the most raw votes regardless of whether or not they matched the supporting questions.
**Overall Winner by Weighted Rating ranks the programs by votes received for each of the supporting questions.

 

About the survey

The Second Annual Open Source Commerce survey includes both a "beauty contest" store design contest for store owners and Web professionals, and a serious survey on what actual users consider to be the best of the industry. Although like any Web survey the results can be influenced by a candidate's campaigning, each respondent is required to answer a short series of questions to help explain why he or she believes the candidate is the best.

It is important to note that any survey on the Web is not a scientific sampling, even when careful controls are used. Not all respondents will answer all questions, and not all questions receive a statistically significant number of responses. Also, it is impossible to independently verify that a respondent has actual experience with a subject.

To improve reliability, this study compares the IP address and e-mail address of each respondent and eliminates duplicate votes. The series of questions that are required with each entry help to eliminate casual voting by persons who did not have actual knowledge of the program, boosting the reliability of these data. Nevertheless, comparing the results over a period of time reveals interesting trends in opinions by actual users.

The Users Have Spoken

This is the second annual study of open source commerce programs by actual users, and the survey results this year correlate well with last year's results. Once again, the survey results imply that the most popular open source commerce programs are correlated with the most user-friendly features toward the store owner. The most popular programs will also be the easiest to install, add additions and upgrade. They will also contain the most features that are geared toward the store owner, rather than the end customer or Web pro. It is hoped that the results of this regular survey will help improve the industry. Congratulations to the winners.



Kerry Watson is a regular contributor to ECommerce-Guide.com, as well as a consultant and author of 14 books in the OSC industry. Her Web sites are osCommerce-Resources.com and osCommerceManuals.com.

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