nopCommerce: The Open-source eCommerce Solution
As you may already know by now, here at CMS-Connected, we have worked out comprehensive reviews of many content management and e-commerce platforms to bring to our audience a bit of something they won’t find anywhere else. Recently, nopCommerce, ASP.NET based open-source eCommerce platform, has piqued our interest as the platform has been downloaded more than 1,800,000 times and used by leading brands such as Volvo, Puma, Reebok, DHC skincare, Columbia, Medindia, Speedo, and so on.
nopCommerce development started in 2008 by Andrei Mazulnitsyn in Yaroslavl, Russia. Since then, the company has released more than 35 versions and used the very latest technology of asp.net on each new version release. According to nopCommerce, it offers the lowest ownership cost in the eCommerce industry. Here is the rundown of the key features, pros and cons of the platform:
Key Features and Benefits
Free for download: The most striking strength of the platform is that nopCommerce is always free to download. The expenditures are implementation, hosting, and paid themes or plugins - yet the vendor offers more than a thousand plug-ins and themes with free add-ons. On a related note, it can be hosted with the user’s current web host or the vendor’s hosting partners.
Framework: From the architectural perspective, its abilities to integrate to Entity Framework with code first approach and use ASP.NET MVC, Unit Testing etc., the platform offers one of the best eCommerce frameworks in the space. Additionally, since it is an open source e-commerce software, the community is supporting and constantly making this framework better and better.
Pluggable modular/layered architecture: This feature enables users to dynamically add additional functionality and elements to the application at run-time. With pluggable modularized architecture, it is easy to create and manage your websites.
Mobile commerce: The mobile-responsive version works on any connected device, without requiring extra development or add-ons. Mobile responsive design is free and available out-of-the-box.
Integration: The platform has plugins for integration with most of the popular service providers, such as payment and shipping modules. nopCommerce can also be integrated with ERP/CRM/CMS and other external systems. Everything in nopCommerce is 100% extensible mostly due to the fact that it is based on ASP.NET MVC and uses these technologies properly.
Community: nopCommerce provides a very big and active community of professional developers, designers, architects, store owners, security specialists etc. So whenever a user is stuck with anything, there are people to help out for free.
Multi-store: Users can run more than one store from a single nopCommerce installation, meaning that you can host more than one frontend store on different domains and manage all admin operations from your single administration panel. Additionally, the platform enables users to roll out micro-stores for promotional campaigns. It is also worth noting that every online store shares a single database; you can share catalog data between stores, and your customers can log-in to all of your stores using the same credentials.
SEO: A store owner has full access to keyword tags and customized URLs management sections. nopCommerce also allows a store owner to localize URLs as URL localization can affect the search results depending on cultures/languages. nopCommerce supports breadcrumbs which ease navigation within the search engine results page which makes your listing look more attractive and trustworthy. nopCommerce also supports both XML sitemap and HTML sitemaps as they help visitors and search engine bots find pages on the site. Since nopCommerce is integrated with Google Analytics, the e-commerce transaction tracking tool automatically connects users’ Google Analytics data with customer transactions.
Checkout: The platform offers two types of checkout; Anonymous checkout allows customers to checkout without creating an account, and One-page checkout eliminates the steps required in the checkout process and also helps to increase revenue and conversion rates by making the checkout easier for customers.
Payment: nopCommerce is integrated with more than 50 payment methods and gateways. The platform allows users to limit payment methods per country. A store can be set to authorize only, or auto-capture credit card mode.
Marketing: The platform allows users to upsell and cross-sell by displaying related products. The user can set up a reward point system for their visitors where the shoppers earn points on the money spent at your store and redeem the points for additional purchases at your store. Users can either create their own custom newsletters or they can use the integrated third-party newsletter services such as MailChimp, SendinBlue, and so on. nopCommerce supports news, blog, forums, polls, and custom pages as well as both virtual and physical types of gift cards. The platform also supports quantity discounts (tier prices) and other various discount requirements. In addition to out of the box features, users can find many other marketing tools on their marketplace, such as product export to Facebook, SMS notifications to shoppers, etc.
nopCommerce is super effective for small and medium-sized business (SME), however, more improvements are needed in terms of performance to handle a large number of catalogs and large incoming traffic like Amazon or Alibaba.
Some users claim that there is a steep learning curve for code customization. In most cases, customization would require development skills. So if users don’t have development skills, they might need to hire a professional, which would add some expenditures.
The brand awareness is weak on the market.
Some users believe that a downloadable customization documentation can benefit their businesses.
Personally, I always consider weaknesses as areas of opportunity. Therefore, we reached out Alexandra Lykova, Marketing Manager at Nop Solutions, to ask her to weigh in on the platform’s areas of opportunity and the company’s action plan on those. “We think that one of the main areas to improve for end users is the admin area simplicity. So in future, we plan to make the backend easier and more intuitive,” she said. “We also want to work more on the product localization in future. Such as, when a user selects a country during the download, the language of this country and all country specific service providers plugins are added by default.”
Additionally, I asked her if she could boil down the benefits of their system into a couple of sentences, she would like prospective clients to know, what would that say? She stated: “Whether you’re new to e-commerce or an experienced player in this field, you can rely on nopCommerce. It is a free, highly secure, customizable and scalable solution. A devoted product community is available to address all sorts of questions. Developers can also enjoy clear and easy to follow code.”
nopCommerce is really good fit for small and mid-sized businesses. Despite being free and open-source, nopCommerce offers a wide eCommerce arsenal of tools. The platform is safe and secure as it has had only one security patch since its launch in 2008. The supported languages are English, Chinese, German, Russian, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Bengali, Vietnamese, French, Turkish, Italian, and Persian. Since nopCommerce is an open sourced framework, users can always make modifications and additional enhancements according to their business needs. Some users utilize the platform not only as a front end e-commerce store but also as a POS in their brick and mortar stores. The most striking disadvantage is when you need customization and extension, you better have access to dotnet developers. If you are looking for an open source shopping cart built on the .NET framework, this product is definitely worth it to give it a shot!