OpenCart vs Shopify, which one is better? OpenCart is one of the best solutions when it comes to an open-source eCommerce platform while Shopify is holding the top position among all the hosted website builders. Choosing the right one for your business can be challenging since each platform has its own weakness, strengths, and serves different purposes.
Too much information can be a real pain, you don’t want to fall in the rabbit hole of unnecessary research. This article will show you everything you need to grab a solid overview as well as valuable comparisons about OpenCart vs Shopify. Keep reading to get:
- What are OpenCart and Shopify
- Detailed compare: Price, SEO, apps, add-on, easy of use…
- How to choose the best platform between OpenCart and Shopify
What are OpenCart and Shopify?
OpenCart and Shopify are fundamentally different.
An open-source eCommerce website builder such as OpenCart enables the user to freely access and modify the source code. As a result, you can fully control your website back-end, get unlimited customization possibilities over the design or functionality of your store. However, this type of website builder requires a certain level of technical knowledge and coding skills.
On the other hand, Shopify is a hosted cart which means it offers you a subscription-based model. Consequently, you don’t need to worry about any issues from creating or maintaining your site. Although users can easily create a new page in just a few clicks without the need for tech knowledge, it will be hard for you to make any adjustments with your website due to the proprietary codebase.
This free open-source eCommerce platform is well suited for small to medium-sized businesses. OpenCart is well known for its multiple stores’ management system along with its comprehensive and user-friendly interface. Besides, OpenCart has a wide range of features that enable you to build a unique store that fits all of your specific needs.
Shopify is one of the leading hosted-cart solutions with 1.5+ million active sites. The platform is optimized for all kinds of businesses from small to large scale. Being a SaaS (Software-as-a-service) eCommerce solution, Shopify is famous for its ease of use. It grants users a powerful tool to create a new fully functioning store without a hitch, along with extensive SEO and marketing features.
OpenCart vs Shopify: Detailed comparison
Thanks to the open-source nature, OpenCart is free to download and install. Nevertheless, you still need to cover some additional costs to get a complete store running, such as hosting, a domain name, any additional extensions, and an SSL certificate.
On the other hand, Shopify offers users four pricing plans including Shopify basic (starting a new business), Shopify plan (for a growing business), and Advanced Shopify (for large-scale business). Moreover, you can save 10% on all Shopify plans if you sign up for an annual plan, or 20% if you sign up for two years. Besides, there will be some additional fees associated with these 4 plans such as domain name or transaction fees.
The verdict: Evidently, OpenCart is much cheaper than Shopify but you still need to pay for some basic expenses. For a hosted website builder, Shopify’s price is quite cost-effective compared to others in the market.
2. Ease of use
The largest gap between OpenCart and Shopify regarding the ease of use is technical skills. With Shopify, you don’t need a line of code to create and manage your store. Starting to create your new Shopify store by providing some of your info such as email, address, store name… You don’t even need to fill in any of your payment information. From the dashboard – Your control room, you can organize, manage, and modify the layout, color, text, and so on of your online store.
Besides, there is a 14-day free trial for any of the available plans. It is a good chance to test how the system works and decide whether it is suitable for you.
It requires coding skills to set up a complete new OpenCart store. Basically, you are going to follow these four steps:
- Purchase a new domain and hosting.
- Create a database using open-source administration (DataGrip, Dbeaver, Phpmyadmin…).
- Install OpenCart.
- Complete your store
Thanks to its intuitive and convenient interface, you can easily navigate and modify any part of your site.
Here is a review from an OpenCart user:
“OpenCart is very easy to set up and it is user friendly. It has quite a straightforward interface and you can literally do everything without many challenges from creating pages up to adding products.”
The verdict: Shopify is the winner of the ease of use round in the light of the effortlessly installing process as well as the friendly management system. OpenCart is more complicated to set up because you’ll need basic technical knowledge of hosting, FTPs, security updates, and the like.
SEO (Search engine optimization) is the process of boosting your website’s ranking on search engines. There’s no doubt that a high position in searching result pages brings you more traffic and helps your sales to grow. Therefore, choosing a site builder that provides great support for your SEO is critical. Let’s continue the fight between Shopify and OpenCart by examining the SEO aspects.
Shopify’s primary purpose is to serve the online store’s owners. If your main focus is eCommerce, Shopify is the best for you. With that being said, Shopify’s SEO is excellent for your e-store. Along with basic SEO features such as meta title, meta descriptions, responsive capability, and so on, a big benefit Shopify gives you is the ability to self-arrange your site’s category. Thus, this gives you the opportunity to make a logical, easy to navigate site’s structure that will help you gain more SEO points as well as increase customer’s experience.
On the other hand, OpenCart is developed to enhance eCommerce businesses in general. This open-source website builder doesn’t provide a lot of SEO support. OpenCart just delivers users basic SEO features like editing the meta tags, adding 301 referrals, and rel-canonical with a bit of PHP coding. On the bright side, with over 14,000 extensions available on the OpenCart Extension Store, installing additional SEO plugins would be a great solution to boost your store ranking positions.
The verdict: Surely, Shopify is the winner of the SEO battle. OpenCart is not a good option for newbies who expect for advanced SEO solutions.
4. Theme Design & Customization
OpenCart offers 500 themes both free and paid (from $60 to $70). All of them are attractive and fashionable.
Some excellent themes which are well worth heeding are Journal, Shoppica, Sellya…OpenCart allows you to modify any component of your website and the template is not exceptional. If you are confident with your skill at HTML, CSS, or PHP code, you can always tweak the design to make yourself an outstanding, highly interactive look to your store.
OpenCart’s admin dashboard is a big plus, the administrator can customize the front store (change the position of certain products, disable categories, edit prices, and descriptions, upload banners, etc) just by using the OpenCart admin panel.
Here is how customer think about OpenCart themes
“At OpenCart, I liked the flexible layouts. Most of them adapt well to different screen widths. In addition, some templates can be changed quite strongly using the visual designer without editing the code.”
Shopify Theme Store contains over 100 free and premium professional, eye-catching, and mobile responsive eCommerce website templates that you can use for your online store. Check out the top 7 best Shopify themes for your shop.
There are two main ways to edit your template. Shopify users can easily customize the template (colors, fonts, or social media buttons, and so on) without using a line of code. You can navigate to the theme editor and adjust your theme directly at the front-end. The theme editor includes a theme preview and a toolbar that you can use to add and remove content, and to make changes to your settings.
The verdict: It’s a tie. Both platforms are equally great when it comes to theme and customization. OpenCart has more themes for you to choose from but Shopify provides better flexibility to your store thanks to its admin panel.
5. Apps and adds-on
Extensions and tools add up tremendous value to your store. It makes your shop more convenient and takes a significant amount of work off your shoulder. Between OpenCart and Shopify, which one is the winner when mentioning app and add-on? Let’s find out!
Shopify is famous for its huge apps available (over 3,000). These apps do not only contribute a specific purpose to your store but also make it connect to another tool (like Xero or Zendesk). This wide range of apps is one of the considerable justifications that make Shopify a robust eCommerce platform.
The bright side of having such a massive app store is that you have a lot of options in regards to adding functionality to your store or integrating it with other tools. However, Shopify tends to provide apps and add-ons for simple and popular functionalities such as AMP or drag and drop page builder instead of including them into your built-in feature. As a result, it costs you more money for an extension.
OpenCart is also a really good option for apps and add-ons with over 14,000 extensions ( product feeds, reports, shipping methods, and payment gateways…) available on the OpenCart Extension Store. Also, the OpenCart developer community has made it easy for you to customize your store at a low cost.
A plus for OpenCart over Shopify is that the majority of extensions are made for eCommerce. If you choose OpenCart for your E-store, it’ll bring a huge benefit since all of these apps directly support your work. More than that, you can use your coding skill to create custom fields that combine with the extensions. This gives you unlimited customization possibilities to develop a powerful website.
The verdict: OpenCart is definitely better for extensions. In general, Opencart’s extension is cheaper than Shopify. It not only has more tools for your store but also grants you the opportunity to use custom code to increase your site ability.
Shopify or OpenCart, there are always chances that your store might face difficult dilemmas of security risks. In one way or another, your website will need safeguarding to avoid getting attacks and leaking information.
Using an open-source platform as OpenCart which requires attempting to set up and secure your own store. OpenCart is not responsible for protecting your website. Therefore, there are several tasks you need to take to ensure the security of your shops such as directory and folder protection and file permission.
Enabling SSL for your OpenCart website and admin panel is necessary too. It can prevent your data from being stolen when transferred back and forth by any middle man. You can activate the SSL or HTTPS by navigating to Settings → Server→Hit “Yes” at the option “Use SSL”.
Additionally, you should consider installing some extensions for security. You can find a ton of them in the OpenCart extension store.
On the other hand, Shopify offers users a lot of security solutions for your store, your customers as well as your finance. This is one of the main benefits of Shopify vs self-hosted solutions.
First of all, Shopify provides Shopify’s PCI compliance to protect payment processing. Shopify is PCI level 1 compliant for credit card processing which means that it follows the highest standards of server compliance.
Secondly, this leading SAAS platform also helps you to keep your customer data from harm by the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). This process will limit the login attempts and make sure app developers can only reach the data they need to.
Lastly, a fraud protection system will flag potentially fraudulent orders so that you can review them before processing them. An order has been flagged which means there might be a risk waiting for you. Thus, you can manually check this while fulfilling the order.
The verdict: Shopify as a hosted cart gives you much more convenience for protecting your website. With OpenCart, you will need to put a lot of effort in creating a security system.
Many merchants prefer a hosted cart over open-cart for its customer support. Apparently, customer service is nonexistent with most open-source solutions. OpenCart has two types of support for you including a community forum that allows everybody to share their knowledge and experience in running an online business. Another way for you is to reach out to the support service with a monthly fee of $99 from 3 AM to 12 PM every business day, at Eastern Time (ET). You will get the proper answers within 24 hours.
As a hosted eCommerce platform, Shopify gives its customers complete support. You can even hire a special support team for your store. Currently, Shopify offers these support channels:
- 24/7 phone support
- Social media support
- 24/7 live chat support
- Community forum
- Email support
- Help center
- Video tutorials
- Advanced specialist support
The verdict: Apparently, Shopify provides better support for your store. For OpenCart, you need to find your own support on the OpenCart forum or make use of a paid service to get the assistance you need.
8. Payment method
The OpenCart package brings a variety of payment methods, from bank transfers to online payment gateways. It integrates with 36 payment methods including 2Checkout, PayPal, Amazon Pay, Alipay Pay… Additional payment methods can be easily installed from the OpenCart Marketplace.
Basically, Shopify gives you two payment methods: Shopify Payments and a third-party provider such as PayPal, Amazon Pay… Moreover, there are more than 100 payment gateways for you to choose from. You might also want to accept alternative methods of payment like cryptocurrency. However, there will be an additional fee for each of your transactions.
The verdict: OpenCart won this battle for the variety of payment options as well as charge-free payment. With Shopify, you will need to pay transaction fees for each of your sales.
So we’ve just analyzed the difference between the two dominant eCommerce platforms, Shopify and OpenCart in important features. Each platform has its pros and cons, so between OpenCart vs Shopify, which one is best for you? It greatly depends on the needs of your business.
OpenCart is more suitable for small and medium businesses. It’s free for installing and giving you a high level of customization, ease of use, and a myriad of extension choices for eCommerce. If you are tech-savvy and appreciate the use of your coding skills, OpenCart is definitely an excellent pick…
Shopify fits for all kinds of businesses from small to large-sized. This hosted cart has superb SEO features, a user-friendliness interface, a high level of security, and great support. If you are not confident with your technical skills and need a full-package service for your store, go for Shopify.
Finally, if you are unhappy with your current site builder and decide to move to another platform that is best suited to your store, it’s time for a migration. Assuming that you intend to re-platform your current website from OpenCart to Shopify or Shopify to OpenCart, feel free to contact LitExtension – An automated migration tool which helps you to transfer all your data including products, customers, orders, and other data from one platform to another in just a few clicks.
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