If you are looking for an easy to use yet loaded with features web application to power your online store, you should definitely put OpenCart on the top of the list of software to investigate. OpenCart is a open source application that allows you to create your own online store, and it is suitable to sell goods (including digital products) for any business around the world.
Before I was introduced to OpenCart, I tried to find a suitable plugin for WordPress. Since I have been using WordPress for more than 6 years, it only made sense to try to find a plugin that would allow me to turn a WordPress installation into an online store. There are some outstanding shopping cart plugins for WordPress, by the way. However, as much as I love WordPress, I was a somewhat disappointed, mostly by it’s clumsiness when it comes to implementing SSL certificates for WordPress.
When looking for e-commerce solution, certain criteria were extremely important to me, therefore I will base my recommendations on these criteria – OpenCart satisfied all of them:
Easy to Install And Use…
If you have ever managed to manually install WordPres, OpenCart installation is as simple and easy. OpenCart official website also provides detailed documentation including installation instructions. Before installing OpenCart however, I would suggest you to take a free tour of both front end and the admin area of OpenCart- while this demo does not give you full privileges in the admin area, it will give you a good general idea how the software works.
Once you decide to install it on your server, it should not take more than 5 to finish the installation (minus the time needed to upload the files to your server and to set up the database).
No need to install every single version update….
The most annoying part of e-commerce plugins for WordPress that I have tried was that not every developer stayed on top of the most recent versions of WordPress. In some cases it took months before plugins were upgraded, often just in time for the latest version of WordPress to be released.
OpenCart does not rely any other application to function properly. Since I began to use it, each version of OpenCart comes with improved functionality. However your old version is likely to work just fine. You are not forced to upgrade to the most recent version if you do not want to.
Since not every web hosting provider is made equal, there might be times when you need to troubleshoot issues with OpenCart. If you are planing to use it, you might as well become a member of OpenCart Community Forums. Many times my questions were answered in the matter of minutes by the members of the forum. Often the developers themselves would answer my questions or direct me to a correct answer.
Availability of Modules and Addons…
Functionality and performance of WordPress can be improved by different plugins. This also true about OpenCart. While I personally think OpenCart presents itself quite nicely “out of the box”, there might be times you need it to do something it can’t in the out of the box state. You can find number of addons and extentions for OpenCart on their website. There are also developers (The Qphoric Domain being my favorite) from whom you can purchase other modules that can enhance your OpenCart store.
Does it work…
And by work I meant does is it really capable of selling products. Before installing OpenCart for a friend of mine to power her online store, we tried eShop plugin for WordPress for about a year. OpenCart however was able to produce the same amount of sales just in one month! To me it was one of the most reassuring factors.
Does OpenCart have any drawbacks?
The only drawback that I can think of is that OpenCart does not currently offer a way to manage an affiliate program without a third party software. I do believe that affiliate management extension or addon will help OpenCart to “explode” in popularity. There is a sing that OpenCart will have affiliate feature in the future- the latest version 1.4.7 already includes an extension called “Affiliate” (which appears to be “work in progress”), however it is not configurable at this time, so we have to wait an see. If you need to integrate affiliate management software into your OpenCart website right away, Post Affiliate Pro seems to offer a solution.
If you have a store powered by OpenCart, please share your experiences, success stories or disappointments (if any) in the comments bellow.