Episode #7 of the course Guide to choosing an eCommerce platform by Adam Bastock
OpenCart is a free, open CMS that features widespread use across the web, accounting for around 6% of all eCommerce stores. In recent years, it has come under scrutiny due to poor code and security vulnerabilities. That said, it still sees widespread use and is a valid alternative if you are vigilant with an in-house developer or reliable agency on hand.
Ease of Setup and Use
The back end is easy to use, though OpenCart is aimed at small companies that have website development experience. A demo store is available to test the back-end functionality here. Installation and initial setup are relatively straightforward, though more complex settings like languages, mail, currencies, etc. may require external help.
You are also responsible for all of the web hosting and installation with no support available.
The SEO isn’t as easy to update and manage as Shopify, and the site architecture and URLs are not as pleasant. However, updating product and page titles is easy enough, with several guides available if you need help optimizing. Overall it’s good enough but could be better.
There’s also the ability to have multiple storefronts with multiple currencies and prices customized based on the store. If you’re selling across several countries, this is a valuable feature that cannot easily be achieved on more closed platforms such as Shopify or WooCommerce.
Due to it being free, there are no tiered pricing models limiting your product range or growth. This makes it ideal for companies that may have a large product range and some in-house experience, but not quite the level required to manage a Magento store. Hosting costs and plugin costs will be incurred, but this will depend entirely on the functionality you wish to add.
OpenCart contains all of the basics to start selling, but for a full-fledged shopping cart, you will require third-party add-ons through their extensions directory. These are both paid and free depending on their usage. However, this can easily become costly, and other platforms may offer this functionality natively.
When compared to Shopify’s ecosystem, OpenCart can be lacking in some of the polish and stability of apps, especially when it comes to marketing and growth-focused functionality.
However, OpenCart is far more scalable and is well suited to handling large-scale orders and product inventories without the need for external apps. This makes it ideal for small or medium businesses that have technical knowledge to invest in building their store without worrying about further costs or limitations.
OpenCart is a free-to-use eCommerce platform that is very malleable—if you have the time and knowledge to do so. It has suffered some criticism in recent years, and while it sees widespread use, there are other alternatives that would perform far better for many small businesses.
“The Automatic Customer: Creating a Subscription Business in Any Industry” by John Warrillow
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