Ask any Gen Z individual about their shopping habits, and you'll hardly find people walking into a brick-and-mortar store anytime they need something. That's the power of eCommerce. Every now and then, a retailer switches to an eCommerce website in the hopes of acquiring more customers and making better profits. But often, they struggle to manage their platform and fail miserably.
If you don't want to walk the same path and repeat those mistakes, opt for OpenCart eCommerce-one of the world's best online store management systems.
2) What is OpenCart?
OpenCart is an open-source online store management system that allows eCommerce sellers to manage multiple online stores on the same interface. It's a PHP-based program that uses MySQL database and HTML components to run its platform.
The system initially came to light in 1998 when its creator Christopher G. Mann shared it with Walnut Creek CDROM. However, due to less usage, the program got halted in the 2000s. Later, Daniel Kerr, a UK-based developer, revived the software and officially released it on February 10, 2009. Since then, OpenCart has helped many merchants and retailers set up their eCommerce websites and explore the innumerable opportunities present in the eCommerce business.
3) What features does OpenCart offer?
Hoping you've got an idea about OpenCart, let's check out its features.
3.1) Strong analytics
With Google Analytics exclusive support, OpenCart has become one of the best eCommerce analytics systems. It records numerous transactions and helps businesses measure their revenue. The tool even permits online sellers to generate and observe purchases, product and sales performance, eCommerce conversion rate, and even customers' shopping patterns.
3.2) Effective inventory management
Keeping an eye on stocks is crucial for the smooth running of every eCommerce business. OpenCart inventory management helps online sellers forecast demand, track real-time inventory, provides access to inventory analysis on multiple devices, avoids the purchase of extra stock, keeps production shortages in check, enables eCommerce sellers to manage and track inventory in multiple warehouses, and so on.
3.3) Unique marketing strategies
Marketing is the driving force behind the success of every eCommerce business. At OpenCart, online sellers can create and track their own marketing campaigns. They can check how many clicks and orders have been generated through each link and also publish articles or blogs via OpenCartDaily.
3.4) Quick sales
OpenCart gives online sellers access to its one-of-a-kind Point of Sale (POS) system. This system allows merchants and retailers to create orders from their storefronts and link them with their online stores. The best part is that customers can pick up those orders from physical stores avoiding the wait that goes into the delivery of a shipment.
3.5) Numerous extensions and plugins
With OpenCart, eCommerce sellers get access to more than 13000 extensions and plugins, each packed with a variety of features to enhance sellers' eCommerce websites. Plus, sellers can choose whether they want to use a free or paid version as per their business size and requirements.
3.6) Trustworthy payment gateways
The online store management system comes with a variety of popular payment methods. It gives online sellers access to 51 pre-installed payment gateways and the option to add more using the OpenCart Extension marketplace.
4) Benefits and limitations of OpenCart
Being a renowned online store management system, OpenCart offers many benefits to its users. Some include,
a) Multi-store support
Often many platforms complicate the handling of multiple stores. They force eCommerce sellers to juggle between interfaces to keep track of all their businesses. And sometimes, this shuffling causes mismanagement of systems.
However, with OpenCart, online sellers can manage all their online stores from a single dashboard without worrying about mixing data.
b) Free of cost platform
Unlike most platforms, eCommerce business owners don't have to invest money in using the platform. They can simply download and install the application on their devices, create an online store, and start running their business.
However, to use top-notch quality domains, hosting plans, etc., users are required to pay a minimal fee.
c) Highly customizable
Since OpenCart is an open-source online store management system, it offers users the flexibility to customize their OpenCart website as per their preferences. Though it has a basic setup, users can formulate their codes and work with the application accordingly.
d) Dedicated technical support
OpenCart offers two types of support- one free and the other paid. The free option gives online sellers access to OpenCart’s Community Forum, which has over 123,000 active users and covers more than 160,000 topics. The paid version, on the other hand, charges users $99/month for professional technical support for any troubles they face in setting up their OpenCart websites.
e) User-friendly interface
Despite being an open-source online store management system, OpenCart is a very user-friendly platform. Anyone with basic technical skills and knowledge of PHP can easily work and benefit from it. Even first-time users, with the help of OpenCart's Community Forum can get used to the platform quite quickly.
f) Multi-language support
Online sellers who wish to reach a larger audience must provide content for their websites in the regional language of that state or country. OpenCart comes in handy here.
The platform provides users access to 17 international languages to approach their customers in a better and more personal way.
g) Access to popular payment gateways
Payment is the most crucial part of any eCommerce website. Until a transaction is complete, it's not regarded as a successful sale. And for customers to purchase from your website, you must give them a secure and seamless platform.
OpenCart provides customers with that environment. It gives online sellers access to over 40 payment gateways, including platforms like PayPal, Amazon Pay, Stripe, and so on.
Just like the two sides of a coin, OpenCart eCommerce has some limitations too. Here are a few things you must know before signing up for the platform.
a) Slow performance
Every eCommerce website's success depends on its performance. How quickly an eCommerce website responds to the user's demand decides whether or not the user will shop from there.
But sadly, for OpenCart, the average loading time is 831 milliseconds, very close to 1 second, the ideal time Google recommends for a website's loading time.
Self-hosting isn't always a boon. Though it offers online sellers flexibility, it also makes them responsible for hosting, development, maintenance, and all other activities involved in handling an eCommerce website.
5) How to create an online store with OpenCart?
The eCommerce industry is packed with plenty of platforms, each promising the best service to online sellers. However, not all of them are free of cost and allow you to customize your website as per your preferences.
Unlike them, OpenCart gives this opportunity and plenty of other benefits. So how do you create an online store on this platform?
Well, just follow the steps below, and you'll be good to go in no time.
5.1) Set up your domain and hosting
Any eCommerce website is recognized by its web address. Having a unique web address differentiates online sellers from their competitors. It allows them to market their products better and reach a larger audience.
While setting up an OpenCart online store, sellers must first purchase a domain name and hosting space. Though they can design their Opencart website on their local computers and later upload the website on their domain and hosting space, it's always smarter to avoid those extra steps.
5.2) Download and install OpenCart
Once your domain and hosting space are ready, visit OpenCart's Official Download Page and download the latest version of the platform. This will provide you with a Zip file on your hard drive, which has to be uploaded and extracted to the root of your server.
Next, find the Upload directory and rename the config-dist.php to config.php. Similarly, change Upload/admin/config-dist.php to Upload/admin/config.php. After completing all these steps, shift all the files and folders present in the Upload directory to the root of your server.
Moving on, open your store's homepage on any web browser and initiate the installation process by following the steps below.
Step 1: Accept the license agreement required to run the platform and click on Continue.
Step 2: A Pre-Installation page will appear before you, where OpenCart eCommerce will run various checks to verify the hosting environment. If everything goes smoothly, you can hit the Continue button and move forward. In case of any discrepancy, the area would be highlighted in red.
Now, don't panic upon finding the highlighted text. Instead, go through the error and make the necessary changes required.
Step 3: After the Pre-Installation page, a Configuration page will pop up. Fill in the credentials of your database on this page and tap Continue. NOTE- The database credentials will be provided by your hosting provider.
Step 4: Finishing all the steps will land you on an Installation Complete page with options of going to your storefront or admin panel. But before you take that step, read the warning on top, which requests you to delete the installation directory placed on the root of your server.
5.3) Install a theme
Post handling the technical aspects, now it's time to enhance your storefront. Start by examining the different templates available on the OpenCart eCommerce platform and choose accordingly. You can even design the theme from scratch or highly customize it to your preferences and budget. Another thing you could do is contact a professional eCommerce firm to manage this task.
5.4) Add products
No eCommerce website is complete without the products it's going to sell. But before you add products to your OpenCart website, make sure you give equal importance to their description and variations.
Customers don't always trust the names. They need proper images and relevant information backing the products. So don't forget to add those.
5.5) Enhance your website by using extensions
Although OpenCart is a well-known platform, it doesn't provide users with all the designs and functions required in creating a seamless eCommerce website. That's where 3rd party extensions come into play.
Installing 3rd party extensions like One-Page Checkout, Mobile App Builder, ZIP code product availability check, etc., adds more functionality to your page and gives customers a better experience.
5.6) Payment and shipment configuration
Lastly, set up payment and shipment methods for your audience. First, determine your target audience and their preferences. Check whether customers are more comfortable with popular options like PayPal or traditional online payment options like debit cards, credit cards, or internet banking. Once you get an idea of that, move on to shipment options.
Generally, most eCommerce sellers prefer shipping companies like DHL, FedEx, UPS, etc., but again, it can differ as per your target audience and your budget.
OpenCart is a growing platform and has the potential to become the world's best online store management system in the future. If the platform introduces more extensions and works on its limitations like slow loading page, troubles importing inventory list, etc., it can see a drastic increase in the number of eCommerce websites in no time.
7) FAQs about OpenCart
Upon reading this article, if you still have any queries, we hope you find your answers in this frequently asked questions (FAQs) section.
7.1) Is OpenCart a good option?
Yes, being an open-source online management system, OpenCart offers users great flexibility and features at a low operating cost. Users can download and install the application for free. They can even use custom themes to design and operate their online stores without any hassle.
7.2) What kind of features does OpenCart provide?
OpenCart eCommerce provides a wide range of features to online sellers. It allows them to use Google Analytics to create and monitor transactions and revenue generated by the platform. It gives them access to the Point of Sales, wherein customers can pick up their products directly from the storefront. The platform even gives users access to multiple extensions and plugins. Plus, numerous payment gateways for a smooth experience for customers.
7.3) Are there any costs related to OpenCart?
Yes, if users build their OpenCart website manually, they will have to pay somewhere between $50 to $100 for using the platform. They can even choose from the platforms 3 all-in-one package, where they will be charged $25/month.
7.4) Does OpenCart allow 3rd party installations?
Yes, OpenCart eCommerce allows 3rd party installations in case of website enhancing extensions. Users can make these additions to increase the functionality of their platform and make it fancier than the standard option.