In an age when the growth of subscription-based platforms and website creators tend to thrive, sometimes finding free solutions is extremely necessary and economical. So what is the right platform to choose? The answer is OpenCart.
OpenCart, an open-source platform established with nearly 20 years of existence and development, is considered the perfect eCommerce solution for online businesses thanks to its collection of dedicated features. So let’s take a look at out OpenCart review.
What is OpenCart?
OpenCart is an open-source CMS specially designed for eCommerce sites, structured by PHP programming language. Since OpenCart is an open-source platform, it is completely free to download. This platform provides users with customization in website design as well as a modern, easy-to-use dashboard interface.
A typical function of OpenCart is multi-store creation, allowing you to access and manage multiple stores on the same interface. Also, this platform provides eCommerce features such as promotion/discount services, product category management, point accumulation for loyal customers, etc.
With a total of 418,331 live websites and 96,344 redirects, the platform accounts for 0,26% of the top 1 million websites on the entire internet according to Builtwith. OpenCart has been trending recently, and it managed to secure a spot among the top five leading eCommerce platforms with a market share of six percent.
Pros and cons of OpenCart
When you start to research a platform, what is the first thing you need to be concerned about? That is the platform’s strengths and weaknesses. What can the platform do and what are the limitations. Here are the key points to think about if you’re taking a closer look at OpenCart.
OpenCart ‘s advantages and disadvantages remind us that it is an easy to use and straightforward platform. It integrates well, it is free to use and will provide a secure eCommerce solution for your website. However, to optimize this platform’s potential, you must use premium elements which come at a cost. There is no better option from a free platform, which is why OpenCart deserves a look.
Page loading time
Site loading speed is an important factor that mainly affects your online business. All of your hard work on marketing and website interface might be completely ruined if the online shop fails to respond quickly.
This is one of the drawbacks of OpenCart. This platform has an average load time of 831 milliseconds, which is more than 1,6 times higher than the ideal response time recommended by Google.
Users used to complain about the slowness of OpenCart, so they had to make a move to solve the problem. Therefore, OpenCart has created several modules to boost the speed of the loading site, response time.
OpenCart is an open-source platform so you can download and use the platform freely. However, to be able to create a store, you need to comply with the following requirements:
- A hosting plan. Those usually start at around $10 / month if you’re on a budget (quality host will cost you more).
- A domain name for your store. Around $10 / year or so.
- An SSL certificate, depending on the needs of the store owner, the price will vary.
- Lastly, an eye-catching theme/template, and any additional modules/extensions that you want to have in your online store (those tend to cost $100 on average).
Side Note: OpenCart has a new hosted solution based on cloud like Shopify or BigCommerce. So you have to pay a monthly fee to have the same features as the local download. You can have a 14-day free trial, direct support link, themes, extensions and optional hosting. The price will start from 33$ to 200$.
As is well known, OpenCart is an open-source platform, so installation will require programming skills. However, you always have a solution for this, try hiring a third party to design for you or equip yourself with a few basic programming skills and follow the OpenCart instructions.
If you want to set up an OpenCart store by yourself, you can follow these steps:
- Login into cPanel
- Create a database in MySQL
- Create a user and assign the user to your database
- Download OpenCart
- Upload OpenCart to your hosting account
- Install OpenCart
The instructions above are real-time a simplified version of the installation process. You’ll also have to rename files, check server settings, and configure database settings.
If you have followed the steps above, you may be able to install OpenCart successfully, but it won’t be easy if you’re new to web hosting and eCommerce software. Moreover, you must do it manually. You may find it hard to learn and this process will take lots of time to acquaint.
Ease of use
One of the main factors that made OpenCart so popular is because of the ease of use it offers. Even if you have very little technical skills, inside OpenCart you can easily add, alter or edit without any difficulties.
But most of all, OpenCart brings a very modern and easy-to-use Admin Panel interface. On the admin page, you’ll be able to accomplish all of your primary tasks, like managing your products, installing extensions, choosing new templates, monitoring sales and customer groups, and even run marketing campaigns.
Aside from the minor difficulties in setting up your site, it’s quite intuitive and all the features are laid out nicely.
Design and flexibility
Like every other open-source platform, OpenCart gives users the freedom to customize it. However, to do this, you need to know the necessary technical skills.
OpenCart’s core software doesn’t come with multiple design templates. What you’ll get is a basic stock template to start building your store. However, this default template is responsive and quite modern looking.
You’ll probably want to shop for paid themes on their marketplace, where you’ll find 83 catalog pages of templates, all rated by the user community.
When it comes to customizing your theme on a granular level, you’re going to have to know how to work with the code. Despite a little inconvenience compared to other hosted solutions, OpenCart’s excellent integration with CSS and HTML coding will ensure maximum customizability and site performance.
Google has specially added its feature to OpenCart, which is Google Analytics. This extension allows you to measure the number of transactions and revenue that your website generates. With this tool, you can record your sales transaction with google analytics. Moreover, you can create reports and monitor your sales performance, product performance, transactions, eCommerce conversion rate, unique purchases, etc.
And most importantly, you can monitor shopping behavior, check out behavior, product list, etc.
Here are some features of Google Analytics in OpenCart:
- You can track the activities of both admin and customers.
- Admin can enable/disable modules at any time.
- Module supports multi-store.
- Admin has full control to enable/disable the tracking of admin/catalog end.
- Providing tracking options:
– The number of visitors.
– Customers from different regions
– The number of pages visited every day.
– The activities in graphical format.
– The visited pages of your site with time duration.
- Easy to use.
2. POS (Point of sale)
OpenCart Point Of Sale System (POS) is a system that allows merchants to create orders from their physical stores. With POS integration, these orders will be synchronized and created on the OpenCart online store.
The advantage of this add-on is that it gives an option to the customers to walk into the physical store and pick up the product directly. This process will cut out the time of going online and checking out, then waiting for the shipment.
With the OpenCart POS system, merchants will be able to manage their sales, inventory and customers. Plus, they can easily manage their day-to-day transactions without any hassle.
Besides, the OpenCart POS system is a powerful tool to manage sales and revenue. The admin can set up and manage multiple physical stores along with the online one from OpenCart.
3. Inventory Management
It’s critical to carefully keep an eye on your store to ensure you’re on track to be profitable. Inventory Management is one of the essential parts of your online selling.
Inventory management is the part of supply chain management, which aims at selling the right products in the right quantity at the right time. Proper inventory management will help you to track your inventory and automate this process in real-time. When performed effectively, companies reduce excess inventory costs while maximizing sales.
OpenCart Inventory Management features:
- Reduce costs, improve cash flow, and boost your business’s bottom line
- Track your inventory in real time
- Help you forecast demand
- Prevent product and production shortages
- Prevent excess stock and too many raw materials
- Allow for easy inventory analysis on any device
- Be accessible right from your retail point-of-sale (POS) system
- Optimize warehouse organization and precious employee time
- Offer quick and painless bar code scanning to speed up the intake
- Allow for multi-location management, tracking inventory across several locations or warehouses
4. Payment gateways
The OpenCart package offers a variety of payment methods, from bank transfers to online payment gateways. The following core payment methods are available with an OpenCart installation:
To be able to use these payment gateways, you need to edit the supported extensions. Besides, OpenCart also supports additional functions such as payment method in checkout and payment method in order history.
The Marketing section in your OpenCart dashboard allows you to add and track the marketing campaigns you create. This feature helps to create a code attached to the link, which enables you to track the number of clicks and orders from that link. From there, you can see where to set up a Marketing Campaign that will work.
To access the section from the dashboard, go to the Marketing field, click it, and you will see submenus named Marketing, Affiliates, Coupons, Mail. Click on Marketing.
OpenCart allows users to edit the meta tags and add 301 referral and rel canonical, but it still requires PHP coding skills. Also, individual URLs are not supported as well. Fortunately, you can find extensions on the market place to help you deal with this problem.
Also, this platform exclusively provides a blogging module called OpenCartDaily. You can post like WordPress and publish your articles, news and posts. This tool comes with additional modules that will be integrated with OpenCart products and categories to allow you to sell your products via blog posts. The link of this blog with the OpenCart system makes it different from WordPress or any separate blog you use with OpenCart in subdirectory or subdomain. Not only that, but this module will also help your SEO become friendlier by using the analytic.
6. Extensions and plugins
OpenCart brings a vast range of features included out-of-the-box and over 13 000+ additional extensions available to download. You can find service integrations, payment providers, shipping methods, social media, marketing, accounting, reporting, sales as well as language packs.
And of course, these things in the OpenCart apps store include both paid and free versions. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about a limited budget to build your store.
With the varieties of the free module, you can choose and set up to help your store run faster and sell more without any additional fee.
But when your store becomes bigger, try to look for paid extension. They might help you as a weapon to beat other competitors by adding product management, marketing campaigns, and tactics as well as improving customers’ experience.
OpenCart has great support from users at the forum as well as the support team of OpenCart.
You can seek help and exchange information at Community support. This forum has about 110,000 subscribers and more than 550,000 posts to help you with all matters related to this platform.
In addition, OpenCart also provides dedicated support for users. This service offers the following features:
There are two service packs for you to choose from when using dedicated support:
With a big user community that is always ready to support from the forum, plus OpenCart’s support services, you will not have to worry about difficulties or errors arising.
Overall, OpenCart is a robust open-source eCommerce builder. It has a lot of functionalities and is very useful. The only drawback is how difficult it is to customize if you don’t have any technical knowledge.
As an open-source platform, OpenCart is suitable for merchants who know coding and programming skills. They can freely customize and optimize the store to meet their needs. With just some basic HTML and CSS understanding, you can set up a full-stack store with multiple extensions to help your business grow.
If you want a simple site to be developed and have the budget to hire a developer, then OpenCart could work well for you. Nonetheless, you are better off searching somewhere else if you are searching for an all-in-unit solution that meets most of the technical requirements.
If you see OpenCart as a more suitable platform than the one you are using, please contact us. LitExtension provides a reasonable price and risk-free full migration service. If you need more information, please contact our 24/7 support team. Join our Facebook Community to get more eCommerce tips and news.