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Open source shopping cart software is a big deal for a new merchant (or online retailer). One of the most alarming factors when starting your online retail business is the cost associated with commercial and proprietary shopping cart software.

While you can pay a few extra dollars for shopping cart software when signing up for a hosting Web server account, these subscription-based plans don’t always offer the shopping cart functionality or design options that meet business needs. For the budget-strained new start-up, this is where open source software comes in to play.

Why Choose Open Source Shopping Cart Software?

Open source software refers to a program in which the source code is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design free of charge. Basically, many like-minded programmers create software that costs nothing for you to use and it can also be edited just as freely. The result of this collaboration of professional programmers is called open source software and it can be as feature-rich as its commercial competitors. Best of all, of course, it’s free.

Generically, open source refers to a program in which the source code is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design free of charge, i.e., open. Open source code is typically created as a collaborative effort in which programmers improve upon the code and share the changes within the community. Open source sprouted in the technological community as a response to proprietary software owned by corporations.

Open source software is not a new concept, but it was once considered to be lacking in features and incredibly difficult to install without the help of a trained professional. However, now many open source shopping carts are as intuitive as commercial solutions. And, with such a vibrant and active open source community backing the software, there are many options available and lots of support should you need it. To help you decide what’s a good fit for you, we’ve highlighted the features from six of the best open source shopping carts we would recommend.

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May 5th, 2011

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