When you are going to start a new eCommerce website, you are probably trying to figure out which platform to choose for its successful running. There are many shopping cart systems on the web, offering to build and maintain your e-shop. In a nutshell, all of them can provide you with a service that allows to build and manage fully functional online store. But all of them are just slightly different from one another and that’s why it can be quite tricky to make the right choice. So if you find yourself at crossroads, we hope that this blog entry will shed some light on the issue.
Today we would like to go deeper and compare two of the most popular open source eCommerce platforms — Magento and OpenCart. But before we start analyzing their options, you need to determine the size of your online store, its design, visibility and, of course, your content strategy and budget. In this way it will be easier to understand which platform best supports the features you require.
Let’s check out the most essential categories:
Hosting & System requirements
Magento (Community Edition) is the self-hosted platform that means you will be provided with software, but you have to get your own web hosting. Any Magento based online store requires a reliable and secure hosting, so don’t buy into cheap services.
The following features should be available by your choice of host:
- Operating system: Linux x86-64;
- Web server: Apache 2.x or Nginx 1.7.x;
- Database: MySQL 5.6 (or greater);
- PHP 5.4 / 5.5 (but for Magento 2.0 - PHP 7.0);
- PHP extensions: curl, gd, ImageMagick 6.3.7 (or later) or both, intl, mbstring, mcrypt, mhash, openssl, PDO/MySQL, SimpleXML, soap, xml, xsl, zip;
- Mail server: Mail Transfer Agent (MTA) or an SMTP server.
OpenCart is also free and self-hosted platform that requires to purchase domain name as well as hosting service. OpenCart is lightweight, so probably hosting will be cheaper, but it will suit only for small stores. Before selecting a hosting provider, check the following server requirements:
- Web Server: Apache;
- Database: MySQLi;
- PHP 5.3+ (1.5.x at least 5.2+);
- PHP libraries / modules: Curl, ZIP, Zlib, GD Library, Mcrypt, Mbstrings.
You can learn more helpful stuff using the OpenCart documentation guide.
Installation & Setup
The installation process will depend on the hosting service you will choose. If you want to make installation and setup like a breeze, use our hosting tips to find the most suitable hosting providers which offer services specially for Magento online stores. In comparison with OpenCart, installation of Magento website can be more complicated, but if you choose an appropriate service solution you don’t have any difficulties. Take advantage of this great installation tutorial that is available on the official Magento website.
OpenCart software can be easily installed and configured, even by beginners. And following this installation guide will take you less time to bring your store into life.
The main advantage of Magento platform is its great number of features and setting options which allow you to build a fully functional online store (Site Management, Marketing Promotion and Tools, Customer Service, etc.) and enhance user experience (Order History, Recently Reviewed Products, Product Comparisons, Wish lists, Smart Customer Accounts,etc.). Among other features, it’s necessary to mention about payment methods; multistore, multilanguage and multicurrency support; extremely modular architecture; custom website design and styling, etc. And all these options can be edited through the user-friendly admin panel that makes the whole process intuitive and simple.
Comparing with Magento, OpenCart has substantially less features in its potential, but it also includes such important options as Product Reviews, Payment Gateways, Sales Reports, Multiple Tax Rates, Shipping Methods, Multistore abilities, etc.
Running your online store on Magento requires some good customization skills, but having such huge pack of features and editing opportunities at hand will definitely encourage you to handle with this task. You can do customization of your design (changing the theme of your website) and also use feature customization (adding a new feature or modifying existing one).
If you are a beginner it will cause you no hassle to edit any suitable template powered by OpenCart. User-friendly web interface and well-integrated tools will assist you in this quite straightforward process. If you need some extra features to be integrated in your online store, you can always refer to developers who are specializing in OpenCart software.
Both Magento and OpenCart have strong communities that provide their users with great support and help. Staying with Magento, you can find all practical information and instructions in documentation section and find useful tips and tricks in Magento forum.
OpenCart has just the growing community which needs more resources and tutorials, though it provides its users with general support and bug tracker.
Using Magento you will get some general SEO settings like search friendly URL’s, content and tagging. Magento gives you good SEO perspectives that can lead to successful optimization of your online store.
OpenCart also comes with search engine optimization capabilities, allowing pages to be indexed by all major search engines and includes support for custom product and category META tags.
There are thousands of free and premium themes which are available on the web for both Magento and OpenCart. According to your design preferences and setting options that you need for your website, you can choose any available theme.
By the way, you can browse our professionally tailored collection of Magento Themes and evaluate their unique designs and powerful features. Almost each theme has a great variety of layouts that will be suited well for any type of online store.
In order to present you all above-mentioned information in a visually effective form as well as compare the listed features, we made the following table:
|Hosting & System requirements|
|Installation & Setup|
In conclusion we’d like to mention that when it comes to eCommerce, there’s no universal solution that will suit to any online business. Each software that is described in this post has its own peculiarities and advantages, but it’s all up to you which one to choose. Anyway, when you are well informed, it’s easier to figure out what is right for you.