OpenCart vs Magento: for different needs of beginners and professionals
Those who want to create an online store may find several dozens of different ecommerce systems on the market. Magento and OpenCart are both popular, they are known as reliable solutions, however, their capabilities are certainly not identical. In order to help you decide which system may be the most suitable in a given situation, we will compare the two systems in detail.
Magento is different from most of the popular ecommerce systems in its complexity: it offers more possibilities, therefore such e-merchants use it who are operating professional ecommerce stores with even several thousands of products or who want to use such functions that are simply not available in other systems with lower performance.
This is exactly the case in the present situation, and in the following we will discuss in detail where the significant differences can be found.
What can you read about in the article?
- Installation and use, updates
- Appearance, design
- The community
- Promotional features
- Summarizing Magento
- Summarizing OpenCart
- Which do the experienced e-store owners choose?
OpenCart is an open-source code system, which means no subscription is necessary to use it – all you have to do is download and install it. Of course the ecommerce store will not be free of charge, since, for example, you have to pay for the hosting service in this case as well.
In case of Magento there are multiple possibilities. The system is of open-source code as well, acquisition of Community Edition is possible free of charge, however, in addition there are several more professional versions as well – the most worth mentioning is Enterprise Edition which has been specifically tailored to the needs of large companies, and accordingly, it is available for a quite large (almost 20,000 US dollars) annual subscription fee.
Obviously, in the present comparison it makes the most sense if we compare CE to OpenCart. You will also have expenses like the hosting service in this case as well, and in addition to that it is important to allocate a separate budget for the developments.
The reason for this is that the system of Magento is quite complex, individual developments are recommended to be made by professionals specialized in this field. This may make the choice somewhat more expensive, but at the same time giving more freedom in exchange, since you can easily find professionals experienced in the development of Magento.
Installation and use, updates
Many people think that the use of OpenCart is simpler, Magento on the other hand offers much more complex features. If you are a total beginner in ecommerce and you want to install a simple, very easy-to-use online store engine for your first ecommerce store, OpenCart will certainly prove to be the better choice.
Magento is more complicated, recommended for experienced users who have already dealt with an open-source code online store system. In exchange for that, you will get an amazing range of possibilities
- to customize the store,
- to optimize the purchasing processes,
- to shape products in the best possible way
- or even to request data about the customer activities and about the operation of your ecommerce store.
You do not have to be afraid of the installation in either case, there is a good chance that you will complete it within minutes and thus will become a proud administrator of a functional online store.
To be able to install the most recent security updates in case of OpenCart, you will need to update the files on the server, unfortunately there is no other solution for that. On the other hand, if a new version of Magento is released, you can choose whether you want to update the entire system or only the security files. It should be noted that a lot of users complain that updates of OpenCart are published quite rarely, while in case of Magento you can count on one every 10-15 days.
Building the brand is one of the most important tasks of a company – and in order to be able to do that you should not use the first free template for your ecommerce store that you come across. The design has to reflect the image of the brand and it also has to be user-friendly. Therefore, in all cases you will benefit the most from an individual solution.
Theme system of OpenCart is relatively simple, you can easily browse it all in the catalog/view/theme directory. You can start the individual modifications by copying the default appearance (for which it is important to have some insight, experience, routine, otherwise it can easily happen that the system will not follow your instructions).
Magento is a much more complicated CMS. In the Community Edition version, following installation, you will have to look for the “base” directory through the app/design/frontend path and find the “template” folder within that. At the same time, we do not recommend it to anyone to start modifying the design of Magento without having a thorough knowledge about the system and possibly without being experienced in programming. It is better have this done by a professional Magento developer.
Functions of Magento and OpenCart
There is a significant difference between the two systems regarding the number of available features, there is approximately 350 of them by default in case of Magento, and about 100 in case of OpenCart. On the other hand, there are smaller differences between the two systems regarding the more important things: they both support multi-store management, which means that you can manage the systems of more than one online stores simultaneously from one administrative interface (which may be a great benefit in everyday life), you can create an unlimited number of categories, products and reports with both systems.
What is different: OpenCart does not support transcriptions of the URLs (which may be disadvantageous for SEO), it is less mobile-friendly, and even API integration was not possible previously. On the other hand, OpenCart 2.0, which was published in 2014, corrected a lot of previous errors and deficiencies. For example the completely responsive design was launched.
Search Engine Optimization
Both systems have certain SEO functions – unless you want to specifically focus on content publication, generally, in case of ecommerce stores, this issue mainly concerns optimization of pieces of content related to products and product categories.
As we have already mentioned, OpenCart does not support individual URLs, while Magento does, which is a great plus for the latter system. However, this is the only advantage of Magento, all in all it can be said that OpenCart is a more search engine friendly system.
It is a fact in case of both systems that an amazing amount of extensions are available to them online – both free and paid solutions. As a consequence, there is a good chance that you will find one that matches your needs, which you will be able to acquire with some investment, and that is a great advantage of the open-source code systems.
Magento may be a somewhat more fortunate solution given that should you need a completely individual development, finding a developer who is going to do it for you will simply be much easier. The reason for this is due to popularity: even though both systems are quite popular, Magento is used by significantly more people, thus there are more people dealing with extensions, plugins and individual developments linked to it.
OpenCart is more easily programmable, but less people deal with it. It is usually recommended to startups who would like to create their online store without integration, quickly and simply.
By the way, developers…
There is a developer community of several thousands of people behind both systems, so should you have any kind of problem, feel free to look up the relevant forums, and you will surely find a community to help you out.
This makes a huge difference when unexpected problems emerge or when you are looking for some kind of extension, or if you want to ask for advice concerning some individual solution. At the same time, in case of such individual developments, it is certainly more useful to turn to those who have developed them.
In case of Magento you also have the option to ask for assistance from the official developer team, and in addition there is a great deal of various tutorials and descriptions at your disposal, which may help you find a solution.
Magento is famous throughout the world for ensuring the users extremely diversified promotional features. You have the possibility to create cross-sell and up-sell offers, coupon deals or even special offers that apply to given groups of users, or even to various product combinations, or special offers that are valid for different time periods, and so on. On the other hand, it may be necessary to install extensions for some of these promotions.
OpenCart lags behind in this field by default, but at the same time, the possibility of launching promotions is given here as well, thanks to extensions. You can create coupon deals, sales, and so on with these.
The system of Magento provides a really professional online commercial system and it shows strengths exactly where OpenCart proves to be weaker. Not only can you create an exceptionally versatile online store with its help thanks to the completely customizable product categories and attributes, but with appropriate development you do not need to make compromises in the appearance either.
Furthermore, Magento performs quite well in the field of SEO as well, however, the real strength of Magento is that you can modify the cart, the customer interactions in a way so that it brings you the most benefits. You can even apply content marketing solutions up to a limited extent as well, besides, Magento performs especially well in terms of data collection.
You can view what products the individual users ordered previously, which the most popular or recently viewed products are, and you can also check out which products are regularly ordered together. You can apply special promotional features like coupon deals, but you can might as well offer discounts if certain products are bought together. You can make reports about the inventory, sales, searches, and you can also operate more than one ecommerce stores simultaneously from one panel with the help of Magento.
As it was planned for ecommerce by default, Magento performs very well compared to other online store systems – on the other hand, it generally falls behind regarding content management, because its developers have not built such functions in it (which may be of course improved with individual developments).
It may be an ideal choice for those who have a smaller budget, who cannot spend significant amounts on the custom developments of their online store, and who are not even experienced in the handling of an ecommerce store. All in all, for an online store that serves a newly started business with a few products, not employing an experienced ecommerce professional, OpenCart is clearly the more favourable option.
Structure of the administrative interface is in line with that, the first steps are simpler, at the same time, being a more simple system, it obviously has its limits. You have less possibilities regarding SEO, you cannot create individual URLs, and you will definitely have to install extensions in order to be able to exploit the potential lying within the system. Overall you have less possibilities for the customization of the ecommerce store than in case of Magento.
Magento’s share of the ecommerce stores of the one million most popular websites has been around 25-30 percent in the last few years (taking into account both the Community Edition and the Enterprise Edition versions). The number of users in case of OpenCart is significantly lower, the share of the system is about 3.5-4 percent. On the other hand, with this share it still is considered to be one of the most frequently used online store engines.