Top 4 Credible OpenCart Alternatives – Which One Fits You the Best?

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E-Commerce has proven itself as one of the best arenas for venturing. The particular sphere has given us some of the biggest eCommerce sites from different business models. For example,

  • Amazon and Etsy from B2C multi-vendor marketplace model,
  • E-Bay from B2C & C2C multi-vendor marketplace model,
  • Alibaba from B2B & B2C multi-vendor marketplace model,
  • TaskRabbit, Upwork, and Freelancer from B2C service marketplace model and
  • Branded B2C inventory based eCommerce stores like Nike, Adidas, and Puma, etc.

Looking at the size of the growing eCommerce market, we can undeniably say it’s huge. It’s massive enough to accommodate as many new ventures with the right business idea. That’s where eCommerce website builders like OpenCart come in the picture.

What are eCommerce website builders?

An eCommerce website builder is a ready-made software solution that lets anyone set up and eCommerce site using a GUI interface. It contradicts the belief that you need to develop your eCommerce store from scratch.

Using an eCommerce website builder like OpenCart, you get a ready-made software solution that comes inbuilt with basic eCommerce features to instantly go live with a fully functional eCommerce store. Also called as eCommerce CMS, a basic eCommerce website builder consists of the fundamental features like-

  • A virtual shopping cart
  • A checkout process
  • An online payment solution
  • A Product upload panel and catalog
  • An Admin panel at the back-end
  • A front panel for the eCommerce shoppers
  • An analytic system for sales report generation

OpenCart eCommerce website builder in short

OpenCart is a PHP-based eCommerce website CMS launched in 1998 by Christopher G. Mann. It is a perfect solution for starting an eCommerce store. It comes built-in with every fundamental eCommerce feature and some of the highly required aspects to grow an online business.

In this article, we are going to give a brief review of this popular eCommerce CMS and also understand some of its well-known and less-known alternatives.  For this, we have taken one competent alternative from different arena, class, and scale. We have tried to include the solutions that necessarily offer some exclusive USPs that other counter-parts lack. So let’s start with our very favorite- OpenCart.

Ease of Use

Open-cart is one of easiest and user-friendly eCommerce CMS in the market. Its straightforward back-end interface makes it usable even by a non-coder. Just a glimpse on the dashboard will give you detailed information of orders, customers, online customers, sales report, and much more. The segmentation of different functionalities are easier to understand and one can start using the dashboard with a few hours of walk-through.

Type of solution

OpenCart is available as both self-hosted and with cloud hosting options. For self-hosting, you can download the source code from the official site and install it on any web-server that supports LAMP stack for hosting. For the cloud, you can register with its official partner A2 Hosting and get an already setup web store on the go.

Cost of acquiring

The CMS is free to use. You can download the source code or register on could without any cost from the official site.

Mobile responsiveness & mobile apps

The base script comes with both back-end and front-end interface. Both the interfaces are mobile responsive and offer cutting-edge user experience to the admin and the eCommerce shoppers.

In addition to that, it offers a free OpenCart mobile app for customers developed by the community members. It has all the basic mobile app features. However, if you need more advanced mobile apps for your store, you can always purchase a paid app being sold by dozens of third-party developers.

Support for third-party development

OpenCart has a huge community of eCommerce entrepreneurs and developers. The platform is supported by a massive community of third-party OpenCart developers coming up with innovative and new OpenCart add-ons. You can always get an OpenCart add-on to add a new feature to your existing website. You can find an OpenCart add-on on the official site as well as with various third-party developers. Being developed on a popular stack (LAMP), it is not a challenging task to find an OpenCart developer for your project.

Support for popular APIs

As the platform itself is supported by a huge community and a large number of OpenCart sites are already live, most of the popular APIs are also available for the platform in the form of free and paid OpenCart add-ons. For example, you can get an OpenCart add-on to install Google Analytics API, PayPal API, Fed-ex API, Google Shopping API, and Amazon API, etc.

Scalability

The platform is a good way to start with your eCommerce business but not very perfect to scale. The LAMP stack and OpenCart framework are capable of handling some big website traffic. However, as you add new features and Add-ons the website loading time for both back-end and front end starts elongating. Even by following the bests of the practices, it may limit your scalability. New features and add-ons add excessive JavaScript to the front.

Moreover, you will add any new feature through VqMode only.  This adds many new lines in the code-base, making it bulgy. You cannot edit the original code-base. Doing so will limit your site to the current version as updating the script to the latest version will reset the code base.

So yes, there is a limitation if you are intending to scale your website for millions of visitors or want to add some big scripts to extend the features. Nevertheless, it’s the best solution for small to medium-sized websites with competent features in the segment.

 

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is one of the most popular and powerful eCommerce website builders. Unlike other alternatives in our list, It is not a standalone CMS but a WordPress add-on. It adds eCommerce functionalities to the regular WordPress CMS. If you want to turn your WordPress site into a powerful web store, WooCommerce is the right choice for you. It came into existence in 2015 and now powers more than 28% of the worldwide web-stores.

Ease of Use

It is as easy as WordPress to use. If you are familiar with the WordPress CMS, you can just start managing your WooCommerce site on the go. No doubt WordPress is one of the easiest CMS and everyone knows how to use it.

Type of solution

WooCommerce is primarily available as an open-source code self-hosted solution. However, the SaaS options are also available in collaboration with third-party software vendors and cloud hosting solutions.

Cost of acquiring

The base source code of WordPress is free to use. The official add-on is available free of cost. However, the customized version for SaaS and other third-party solutions are available as paid as per their pricing policies.

Mobile responsiveness & mobile apps

Mobile responsiveness is undoubtedly the best in class. Like every WordPress site, you WooCommerce based web-store is applied with cutting edge code base for mobile responsive user experience.

Support for third-party development

WordPress Community is one of the biggest in the industry. Just search for WooCommerce plugin or theme on the Google and you will find hundreds of developers offering thousands of WooCommerce solutions. This massive community gives you access to thousands of free and paid WooCommerce solutions. Finding a WooCommerce developer is as easy as finding a WordPress developer.

Support for popular APIs

Undoubtedly, WooCommerce supports most of the popular APIs. Who would not want to port their software solution to a platform that powers over 28% of the web store on the internet?  From Google Analytics, Google Shopping, Mail Chimp, and Amazon AWS to popular Payment gateways, WooCommerce supports them all.

Scalability

WordPress itself is a powerful CMs. WooCommerce adds-up to its unlimited customizability and a great extension of features through add-on and plugins. However, when it comes to the eCommerce and the kind of stress web stores get, it feels if WooCommerce was better if made as a stand-alone CMS.

The self-hosted option is somewhat more scalable than the cloud options. You can choose a scalable server of your choice and shed the extended load as you grow your site. However, the code weight will indeed grow as you add new features. The LAMP stack might feel not so scalable to launch a large scale business. You might want to consider a better alternative if you have a big startup in your mind.

 

Magento

Magento is a world-class eCommerce website builder. It powers a few of the biggest brands like Nike. It is the most diverse software on our list. It offers both self-hosted and SaaS solutions.

Ease of Use

It is possibly the toughest platform to use in our list. The UI, however, is simple but comes with lots of complex controls. It is because of the fact that Magento possesses the largest set of eCommerce features as compared to other OpenCart alternatives in the market. Even it’s not very easy to install a Magento extension from the back-end. However, it is also true that Magento websites are simpler to use by customers. For example, it comes built-in with a one-page checkout system, which makes checkout extremely simple.

Type of software solution

Magento comes both as a self-hosted open-source solution and cloud-hosted SaaS solution. As stated the self-hosted solutions run by the name Magento Community edition and cloud-hosted by the name Magento enterprise. It also comes as PaaS, which is called as Magento Commerce.

Cost of acquiring

There is no cost for acquiring the Magento community edition. However, the Enterprise edition and Magento Commerce is a premium service that involves recurring monthly charges. In return, the enterprise edition is bundled with hosting, maintenance and a number of premium features. The third-party Magento extensions are also available from Magento certified developers. You can buy them from various verified Magento partners.

Mobile responsiveness & mobile apps

Magento leaves no stone unturned for mobile responsiveness. The base Magento theme is fully responsive. The admin panel is also the same, but you might find it a little complex to use from a mobile device though.

There are various Magento templates and themes available in the market. You must make sure to buy a mobile responsive theme to get the same kind of usability as the default theme.

Support for third-party development

Magento offers the API as well as source code access to the developers. As a result, you can find a large number of Magento extensions and modules in the market. The community is highly active and skilled Magento certified developers are always available to make your life easier.

Support for popular APIs

Like every popular eCommerce CMS in our list, Magento too supports all the popular APIs. You will find an array of extensions to add new payment gateways, shipping services, currency converters, and Google shopping extensions.

Scalability

Magento is huge in terms of scalability. With hassle-free migration from the community to enterprise edition, you can always upgrade from a small scale startup to a large-scale enterprise business. Developed on Zend framework, the website can take on any scale of load and web requests. Depending on your server capability, Magento comes with unlimited scalability.

 

ShopyGen

Genstore is a powerful eCommerce website builder with personalized solutions for an array of eCommerce businesses. The CMS comes built-in with top-notch custom eCommerce features and multiple monetization channels. It made to our list for its unique tech stack (MEAN). Where most of the alternatives in our list are PHP based, ShopyGen is a node js e-commerce website builder.

Ease of Use

It’s purely JavaScript. The platform offers a very light yet feature-packed admin panel. It’s easiest to use and even non-techies can manage the website without any hassle. Being a standalone custom eCommerce CMS, it does not confuse you with unwanted features and complexities. Moreover, the GUI for the dynamic website and business analytic is as easy as watching a video.

Type of solution

It is an Open-source code and self-hosted solution. You can get the source code and host your website on any web-server you wish to.

Cost of acquiring

Unlike OpenCart, it is a premium solution and the source code comes at a price. You can choose a suitable package to purchase based on your requirements. The normal package gives you access to the source code. However, with a full package, you also get native Android and iOS apps for your web-store.

Mobile responsiveness & mobile apps

The script is fully mobile responsive. You can enjoy an uncompromised UX in both the back-end and front end of the site. Moreover, the native mobile apps make your business accessible to all possible devices in the market.

Support for third-party development

The script is open-source. Hence, any third-party node js developer can customize the code to add new features. However, as it is still a new entrant in the market, you will not find third-party developers with ready-made modules. You will have to do the customizations by yourself or ask the vendors to do it if you want to add any new features.

Support for popular APIs

The platform supports most of the payment gateways APIs and other solutions. However, you are dependent on the vendors for adding any new API.

Scalability

With its node js shopping cart, the script is massively scalable. The non-blocking I/O and asynchronous programming makes it super-fast and crash-free. The website will load as efficiently with millions of visitors and an unlimited number of products.  Node js eCommerce sites are more flexible and scalable than that of PHP sites. The MEAN stack is one of the smoothest stacks for website development. Website and e-commerce solutions like Amazon, eBay, and PayPal use the same tech stack.

Other Honorable Mentions

There are a few others who deserve your attention. I know, you have been wondering why I missed Shopify. Well, there is a reason for it. We are talking about OpenCart alternatives. OpenCart itself is popular because of its open-source code and self-hosted delivery. The SaaS model is not so popular in OpenCart. So if you are looking for an OpenCart alternative, your first priority should be inspecting others in the same category. That’s why Shopify deserves a special mention; not in the list.

Shopify

Shopify is a SaaS-based eCommerce solution that powers most of the startups today. Its main USP is its commitment to offer overall support to launch an eCommerce business. If you are picking up a Shopify site, you are free from all the hassles of website management and web-hosting. The community is huge and authorized third-party developers are always available to help you out with their Shopify modules.

The only limitation is the overdependence on the vendors. As you don’t get the source code, you cannot make any customization to your website. You will have to use the provided limited APIs to create the Shopify modules or customize the store. You are bound to pay monthly charges and commission cuts from your sales. You cannot change the hosting. You will have to pay fortunes to upscale your server size.

In short, if you don’t want the hassles of hosting, website security management, and code customization, you should choose Shopify. Besides that, if you are willing to pay significant recurring charges so that you can focus more on business development, Shopify is for you.

Here are few other alternatives you might want to check out-

  • Volusion (SaaS)
  • 3dCart (SaaS)
  • BigCommerce (SaaS)
  • PrestaShop (Open-source)
  • Drupal Commerce (Open-source)
  • oSCommerce (Open-source)
  • ZenCart (Open-source)

To Conclude

As eCommerce is evolving, the business models are also evolving. In all this, a traditional eCommerce CMS cannot offer you the best of the monetization options and business development opportunities.  All these entries in our list offer the best-in-class features to make a quick venture in the eCommerce market. However, the decision to choose one totally depends on your needs and requirements.

You need to choose the perfect solution to start a unique business with exclusive business models. For example, the days of mere product-based e-commerce stores are gone. Today, you need a more competent solution to build more competent and complex e-commerce sites like service marketplaces (Thumbtack), on-demand food delivery services (Uber eats), on-demand cab services (Lyft), etc.

So always choose a platform that gives you the best solution as per your unique requirements; not just a popular software solution. Following the crowd will lead you to nowhere. Make your own business model and choose a solution that satisfies it.

Author Bio

I am a professional blogger, guest writer, Influencer & an eCommerce expert. Currently associated with ShopyGen as a content marketing strategist. I also report on the latest happenings and trends associated with the eCommerce industry.

Follow me on Twitter @Jessicabruc

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