OpenCart E-Commerce Review: Easy to Use, Dev-Friendly Platform

As a blogger, there are many reasons to start an online store. You may want to sell merchandise to build brand recognition, or perhaps you write e-books or sell creative products. Perhaps you’d like to start a business on the side and use your blog to give it some extra exposure. Or maybe you haven’t even begun yet, and you’re looking for an e-commerce CMS with blogging capabilities.

Whatever your situation may be, OpenCart is a great solution to all these problems. With an admin panel that feels smooth even for beginners, its status as a free, open-source platform, and its lack of limitations, this program is a major contender in the e-commerce world.

One Size Fits All

Sellers of miscellaneous digital products, crafters of handmade goods, and large retailers alike can make use of OpenCart. It’s one of the easiest tools of its kind to use, but developers can also write their own code if they wish. Multi-store functionality and unlimited products make it great for big companies, but even a hobbyist will have little trouble getting running.

A lot of advanced functionality is found in marketplace apps, though you could always make your own, and free support is limited to the fast-moving community forums. All the info you need is scattered in the documentation, free tips-and-tricks books, and on OpenCart’s active blog. That makes it wonderful for do-it-yourself innovators who like a bit of a challenge but aren’t quite up to the coding proficiency a CMS like Magento demands.

And the low, low price of “free” means all you need to do is find a cheap web host (preferably with an SSL certificate included). This makes OpenCart perfect for single sellers and startups, like bloggers looking to sell merchandise or digital goods.

OpenCart: A Free, Open Source Program

Much like WordPress, OpenCart is its own CMS platform made with a certain target in mind. And, like WordPress, it’s a bit difficult to integrate into an existing site, so it’s best to use if you’re planning on starting from scratch or don’t mind having two separate websites. All you need to pay for is a fresh hosting server to place the module on.

Once it’s installed, you have a simple yet powerful dashboard at your fingertips. Adding products is easy, and unlike some other shopping carts, there are no pricey paywalls. Unlimited products and categories, as many storefronts as you want, and more all come at no cost.

open cart ecommerce for bloggers

There are numerous other nifty features, too. Discounts and coupons are a great way to increase sales, as is a reward points program. Customer comments both increase trust from new users and persuade people to return to the website to leave a review. And account creation means they can return easily and save their favorite products.

Whatever you sell, OpenCart does its best to make you feel at home here. Artists, sculptors, t-shirt makers, and other creators, in particular, will make easy use of this software. Bigger endeavors have plenty of features made for them as well. But it’s not all about the physical goods; if you sell e-books, downloadable content, digital art, and so on, you’ll have no issues setting up that sort of store.

OpenCart’s a great shopping cart system with enough base functionality to get a store of almost any kind set up. But don’t settle for the vanilla program. There are enough add-ons to make the store of your dreams.

Sell Around the World

This platform is great, but one of its best features is the sheer number of choices you and your customers have. Thirty-six payment methods are at your disposal, from the ever-popular PayPal to the useful Authorize.Net to the multinational WorldPay.

And OpenCart supports shipping companies from all over the world, from FedEx and UPS to the Australia Post. Selling your products worldwide doesn’t have to be an ordeal.

Multi-currency and multi-language support is a big deal, especially for digital content providers and bigger physical-goods businesses. Whatever product you create, it’s important to be able to sell your goods around the globe.

Finally, some helpful built-in statistics wrap up the whole package. You can see where your customers are coming from; at what time of day, month, and year people purchase products; and detailed info on orders, sales, and products.

The Massive Marketplace

As a module-based, open source program, devs flock to OpenCart to sell their programs. And they’re a creative bunch, so if you can think of something you need, the marketplace probably has it. You will need to pay for some of these apps. For many, it’s more than worth it.

Take the OCWP plugin. It might be expensive, but integrating WordPress into OpenCart is an interesting idea, and certainly worth the money. If that’s not what you want, there are lots of blogging modules and themes that support a blog. You won’t have to give up your passion, or split between two websites, to sell products.

Because OpenCart is its own platform, you’ll need to learn how to use its themes. Fortunately, there are a lot of free templates. To get a base website set up, you won’t need to spend money. Plus, a lot of the paid themes come pretty cheaply.

Don’t forget third-party developers like Pavothemes. Sites like ThemeForest often have an OpenCart section as well. Search around the internet to find modules and templates not listed in the marketplace.

If you’re familiar with PHP and MVC-L, the sky’s the limit. OpenCart provides a module builder skeleton so you can easily jump into it, and it’s not a bad way to make some money. If you’re no software developer, just enjoy the huge variety the marketplace — with over 13,000 modules — has to offer.

Set up your online store with Open Cart »

Not For You?

Maybe OpenCart just isn’t your thing. It may not be quite right, or you’re looking for something on a smaller scale. There are plenty of shopping cart programs out there. Here are a few:

  • WordPress: if your focus is on blogging and design, rather than a straight-up online store, you’re better off installing an e-commerce add-on for WP. It’s also much better if you only plan on selling a handful of products, with your blog being the main attraction.
  • Shopify: you’ve probably heard of Shopify, the paid shopping cart platform. The big improvement is hosting right in the package, with unlimited storage. With OpenCart, you’re locked into the space provided by the third-party host.
  • Magento: its learning curve is steep, but Magento is without question one of the most powerful e-commerce tools. It’s open-source as well, but definitely better for a larger team with a developer on hand.

An Open Source, Easy-to-Use Platform

Simplistic enough for a beginner, but versatile enough for a developer. Easy to get started with, free, and no hard limitations. OpenCart strives to maintain these values, and it pulls them off with a flourish.

open cart for bloggers

This shopping cart is perfect for developers and innovators, but great for general use as well. It’s not super flashy like Shopify, but it’s no trouble at all to use, and it has the base tools you need to set up a store of any kind. E-book authors, artists, or even those who have a bigger project in mind: all will find that, with a little extra effort, OpenCart will suit their plans just fine.

Brenda Barron is a writer from southern California. When not writing about blogging and business, she’s spending time with her family and knitting.