Open cart is a free tool which we might want to consider using, which comes with the option of integrating a myriad of designs themes to give the site a good and unique look. These shops look professional; they scale well and give the admin with a bundle of features including support for 20 different payment methods. Here opencart has a far more appealing appearance than oscommerce and is also very easy to use.
Opencart is a complete ecommerce solution that allows us to launch our online store, add/manage the products, let our customers use a cart to buy them and then process their orders. This open cart delivers all the online store functionality we need. The most important thing about Open cart is that it is open source and we can modify the platform. In order to use the open cart we first need to download and then install it on a web server. But the web server must meet the following requirements.
-> PHP (at least 5.2)
-> Curl enabled
-> has a database (MySQL)
Who is opencart best suited for:
Because opencart needs us to install on our own, it is best suited for businesses that have some web experience and know how to go about the basic web site set up and development tasks. But it is needless to say that opencart is simple and easy to learn. And the interfaces are friendly. We get all the literature needed to get started and start selling our products. But installing new features in opencart can be expensive. They may be around $300. So it is always better if we opt for other solutions that offer features free of charge. So opencart is a good option to start off but not the best to scale.
Features in opencart:
The following are the main features in open cart:
-> unlimited categories
-> unlimited products and manufacturers
-> sell digital products
-> multi currency supported
-> multi lingual
-> product reviews and ratings
-> can be extended with templates
-> more than 20 payment gateways
-> more than eight shipping methods
-> PCI compliant
-> multiple tax rates
-> shipping calculations
-> discount coupon system
-> backup and restore tools
-> printable invoices
-> sales reports
First of all the good news is that it is completely free. We can download it from the official website. But like the oscommerce, there are some additional costs.
-> we need a hosting plan. They usually start at $5 per month if we are in a budget. (Quality host will cost us more)
-> we need to acquire a domain name for the store. That comes up to $10 per year.
-> then there is a cost of good design per template or any additional modules per extensions that we will have for our online store (those might cost $100 on average)
The online store designs in open cart:
Open cart does not come with any specific design templates. When we install the platform we get a basic store design.
However here it is nice, modern looking and mobile responsive. If we need any custom made we have to hire a designer or we can get a template from a site.
Managing products in our opencart store:
Opencart is user friendly when it comes to managing the store, products, orders and many other things. The admin interface is nice and clean. The dashboard gives us access to some cool statistics and gives us an overview of what’s going on.
We can also add new products easily. In spite of the fact that there are lots of fields and many attribute tabs, they are not intimidating in any way.
And opencart integrates with hundreds of different payment gateways.
Is opencart the right tool to launch our online store with?
Pros of opencart:
- Simple to setup/use: just like the other tools it is easy to use. It is for the non tech savvy people, because of the fact that we can quickly bolt on new themes and plug-ins and change the appearance or the feature set of our site.
- Plenty of themes: we will never fall short of options regardless of what we sell because there are various themes available (both free and paid), for giving our store an attractive and professional look.
- Low running costs: for small and medium sized online stores this is the most viable option. On an ongoing basis it does not need any ongoing development costs.
Cons of open cart:
- More tough to customize: it is much harder to customize open cart compared to osCommerce. And to a large extent we are confined to the product as-is. But there are a lot of pre-made modifications which we can use to add to this site.
- Not as SSEO-Ready: opencart is not as search engine friendly as it should be. Hence it will not be performing in Google the same way as the other ecommerce sites. And we need to tackle this issue separately to get the right results.
- Can be slow: the script can run at a slow paceand if the site is large it can be frustrating for shoppers after a while. There is no dearth for choice because there are many free ecommerce scripts, platforms and standalone shopping carts that can be implemented. We need to know what exactly we want from the ecommerce shop and to find a solution that fits. It may so happen that one of one of the many free platforms available can do this job. For certain requirements we might consider a paid solution. Paid options tend to have more features available out of the box. They are better supported than free software. The most widely used paid option is Shopify.