If you’re starting to feel restricted by your subscription-based service, maybe it’s time to consider alternatives such as OpenCart. It’s an open source ecommerce solution with a comprehensive feature set so that you can design, launch and maintain your online store. In short, you get everything you need to build and manage your store.
OpenCart was first released in 2010. It’s so popular that some hoster even include it with their one-click install offers along with Woocommerce and PrestaShop.
As an open source software, it’s free to download and use. If you know your way around PHP, you can edit the source code to your heart’s content. It’s quite a lightweight shopping cart. It’s built for ease of use and easy installation. It follows the core+extension model.
For basic functionality, you install the core and for more advanced features, you need to install extensions. The advantage of this approach is that it keeps your website code clean and you only add what you need. Rest assured that there’s a thriving developer community that consistently adds and maintains all the plugins and themes.
OpenCart is powerful enough so that you can manage multiple stores from within one admin interface. It supports more than 40 languages and can also handle right-to-left languages such as Arabic and Hebrew.
- Pros and cons of OpenCart
- Who is OpenCart for?
- How easy is OpenCart to use?
- OpenCart design and themes
- How easy is managing your ecommerce store with OpenCart?
- OpenCart integrations
- What marketing tools does OpenCart provide?
- Payment options
- OpenCart security
- OpenCart customer support
- OpenCart pricing
- Is OpenCart the right ecommerce solution for you?
Pros and cons of OpenCart
Out of the box, with the open source software OpenCart you get all the tools you need to create a website with a fully featured shopping cart. The core of OpenCart is free, but there are free and paid themes and extensions.
- Intuitive and well-designed user-interface
- Supports many currencies and languages
- It has a vibrant marketplace for extension
- The core feature set lets you accept orders once installed
- As open-source software, you can customise as you see fit
- Almost endless payment gateway options
- Customer support is expensive
- You have to take care of everything, it is open source after all
- If you add a lot of different extensions, they may not always be compatible with our system or with each other
Who is OpenCart for?
As an open source software, you need to install it on your own or get someone to do it for you. So if you’re thinking about using OpenCart for your online store, ask yourself if you will be comfortable setting up and maintaining a highly technical store largely on your own.
The upside is that get to exercise full development control on their own servers. That being said, it doesn’t have the same scalability and higher-level functions as Magento.
So, if you’re a smallish retailer and don’t have the coding skills, OpenCart may ask too much of you. Larger stores or if you expect to scale may find your growth stunted even with the wide large extension marketplace.
If you’re a small or mid-sized retailer on the hunt for a self-hosted shopping cart, then OpenCart is free to own, upgrade, and use. Out of the gates, you get all you need to get started and sell your first products.
And if you need more down the road, you can just install plugins to extend the functionality of your store. Just know that adding new plugins can get expensive pretty fast – if you need lots of them.
How easy is OpenCart to use?
If you don’t want to install OpenCart just yet, you can try out its demo. Installing OpenCart to an existing website may be a bit of a headache (not unlike WordPress) so it’s better to install it on a separate website.
When you log into the administrator area, you get an overview of all that’s happening in your store in your dashboard. It’s a simple, straightforward, and powerful dashboard. The user interface is uncluttered and pretty easy to understand, particularly if you’re coming from another platform as it looks like a lot of other software. You can easily buy extensions and themes from the marketplace to make OpenCart fit your needs.
The administrator area is where you manage your store, products, orders, and basically anything that’s going on. it’s also where you extend the functionality of your store by installing add-ons. You can easily buy extensions and themes from the marketplace to make OpenCart fit your needs.
Overall, the interface’s pretty self-explanatory. It allows you to manage every aspect of your business from any device wherever you are.
OpenCart design and themes
When you install OpenCart, you get a basic theme. It’s modern and clean – and as you’d expect, mobile-ready. You can search the marketplace for more themes or if you don’t like what you see, third-party companies such as Theme Forest offer both paid and free themes.
As it’s open source, you can make smaller and larger changes or also design a theme yourself (hire a designer and developer).
How easy is managing your ecommerce store with OpenCart?
The ease of use extends to managing the store, the products, orders, and basically all the tasks related to operating an online store.
Inventory, order, customer management, marketing, and reporting each has their own sections. Inventory and order management each have their own sections. In its product creation area, you can add as many products as you plan to sell. You can easily add and manage variations.
OpenCart has a marketplace where its developer community offers extensions and themes. You can browse the over 13’000 paid and free add-ons. They are grouped into categories such as languages, payment, or feeds. It’s probably safe to say that it has an extension for your need.
What marketing tools does OpenCart provide?
Right after installation, you get tools to promote your products and offer discounts. You can also connect your store to Google Shopping to seamlessly promote your products to people who’re shopping for them online.
When you create a new product it’s easy to add metadata such as a meta tag title to your products. If that’s not enough, you can also install extensions from the marketplace the will enhance your SEO efforts.
If you’re planning campaigns, you can monitor their performance and track how many clicks you get and where they came from.
Out of the box, you get a mailing system so that you can communicate with your customers. You can send specific customer groups special deals or newsletters.
The core installation does not include a blog, so you’re limited to the store content. It’s easily remedied though. Just install one of the blog extensions and you’re ready to go.
OpenCart has a plethora of built-in payment options, of course, the leading payment gateways such as PayPal or Square are not missing. There are literally thousands more that you can add such as Bitcoin or country-specific options.
As is always with open source software, you are responsible for everything, from maintenance to security. If you want to be PCI compliant with your installation, you have to
- Not store credit card details anywhere in a database if you are on a shared server
- Not store CVV is stored anywhere
- Make sure transactions are processed in real time
- Transmit customer details only via SSL
OpenCart customer support
As is with most open source software, OpenCart support is limited to self-help resources such as the forum and the documentation.
You’ll find on its site that OpenCart promotes third-party developers as partners who can help you with design and development. It also promotes dedicated support, where you can buy one-time services or a monthly support plan.
OpenCart is an open-source shopping cart, so it’s free to download, use, and customise. Just keep in mind that you need to factor in costs for things such as hosting, extension, or dedicated support by OpenCart.
Is OpenCart the right ecommerce solution for you?
Overall, OpenCart is a robust, lightweight, and easy to use open-source shopping cart. As such it comes with all the advantages and disadvantages of self-hosting a solution. This means, if you don’t shy away from some basic HTML and CSS, you can set up a store that’s totally unique.
OpenCart works well for small to medium-sized stores, especially if you don’t want to deal with the complexities of something like Magento.
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