OpenCart is basically an e-commerce platform to sell your products online and one noteworthy advantage of using OpenCart is its robust community support.
But how to use OpenCart?
We will look at more of the How-Tos of OpenCart in detail.
As your business grows and demands change over time, OpenCart can be easily customized and expanded to meet your evolving needs.
From adding new payment gateways to integrating with third-party systems or implementing multilingual functionality for global reach – all these features contribute to an adaptable platform capable of keeping up with the dynamic nature of online businesses.
Therefore whether you’re starting small or aiming for rapid expansion in the e-commerce world – choosing OpenCart grants you an accessible yet powerful solution.
It is designed with growth in mind while providing ample opportunities for customization through various themes and extensions offered by its supportive global community.
How To Use OpenCart?
Before we look into the details of how to use OpenCart, it is important to know how to install Opencart. OpenCart is easy to install and in order to install OpenCart there are numerous resources available including forums, tutorials, and documentation from where you can easily learn how to install OpenCart, and how to troubleshoot or customize your store.
a) Install OpenCart
You have to install OpenCart first so you would know how to use OpenCart inside and out. This guide assumes that you have the necessary technical knowledge and access to a web server. Here are some of the basic steps to install your OpenCart store
Step 1: Prerequisites
Before you begin the installation process, make sure you have the following prerequisites in place:
- Web Hosting: You need a web hosting provider that supports PHP and MySQL. Most hosting providers meet these requirements.
- Domain Name: You should have a registered domain name or a subdomain where you want to install OpenCart.
- FTP Client: An FTP client (e.g., FileZilla) to upload files to your web server.
- Text Editor: A text editor (e.g., Notepad++ or Visual Studio Code) for editing configuration files.
Step 2: Download OpenCart
Visit the official OpenCart website at https://www.opencart.com/.
Download the latest version of OpenCart. It is typically available as a compressed archive (e.g., .zip or .tar.gz).
Extract the downloaded archive to a location on your computer.
Step 3: Upload OpenCart Files
Connect to your web server using an FTP client.
Navigate to the root directory of your web server where you want to install OpenCart (usually public_html or www).
Upload all the files and folders from the extracted OpenCart directory to the web server’s root directory.
Step 4: Create a Database
Log in to your hosting control panel (e.g., cPanel).
Find the “Databases” section and create a new MySQL database.
Create a MySQL user and grant it privileges to access the newly created database. Note down the database name, username, and password; you’ll need them later.
Step 5: Installation Wizard
Open your web browser and navigate to the URL where you uploaded OpenCart (e.g., http://yourdomain.com).
The OpenCart installation wizard should automatically start. Choose your store’s language.
Verify the pre-installation checks. Ensure that all requirements are met. Resolve any issues if necessary.
Enter the database details you created earlier (database hostname, username, password, and database name).
Create an admin username and password for your OpenCart admin panel.
Configure your store settings, including the store name, email, and other basic information.
Choose a default currency and set your desired time zone. Optionally, set up sample data if you want to start with some preconfigured products and categories.
Remove the “install” directory for security purposes once the installation is complete.
Step 6: Admin Panel
After successful installation, you can access the admin panel at http://yourdomain.com/admin.
Log in using the admin credentials you created during installation.
Step 7: Configuring Your Store
Now that you have OpenCart installed, here are some essential steps to configure your store and start using it:
- Categories and Products: Create product categories and add products to your store through the admin panel.
- Extensions: Customize your store’s functionality by installing extensions and modules from the OpenCart marketplace.
- Themes: Choose and customize a theme for your store’s design. You can find themes in the OpenCart marketplace as well.
- Payment and Shipping: Configure payment methods and shipping options to enable smooth transactions.
- Taxes: Set up tax rates and rules to ensure proper taxation on your products.
- Customers: Manage customer accounts, view orders, and handle customer inquiries through the admin panel.
- Marketing: Promote your products through marketing tools like discounts, coupons, and newsletters available in the admin panel.
- Reports: Monitor your store’s performance with various reports, such as sales reports and customer reports, under “Reports.”
Step 8: Launch Your Store
After configuring your store, thoroughly test it to ensure that all features and functionalities work as expected. Once you are satisfied, remove any “Under Construction” pages or restrictions to make your store accessible to the public.
b) Add Themes and Customize:
Choose a theme that fits your store’s design from the OpenCart theme store or purchase a premium theme.
- Select a Theme: Visit a reputable OpenCart theme marketplace or developer’s website and choose a theme that suits your store’s style and requirements. Make sure the theme is compatible with your OpenCart version.
- Purchase and Download: Purchase the theme, and you’ll typically receive a download link or file. Download the theme package to your computer.
Customize the appearance of your store by adjusting colors, fonts, and layout options. In order to do this you have to follow these steps:
- Theme Settings: Depending on the theme, there may be specific settings and options for customization. Go to “Extensions > Themes” and click the “Edit” button for your theme to access these settings. Here, you can configure colors, fonts, layouts, and more.
- Custom CSS: If you need to make more advanced styling changes, you can add custom CSS. Go to “Extensions > Extensions,” select “Theme” from the dropdown, and click “Edit” for your theme. You can add custom CSS code in the “Custom Code” section.
- Customize Layouts: You can customize your store’s layout through “Design > Layouts.” Here, you can add or remove modules, position them, and control their visibility on different pages.
- Edit Templates: If you have coding skills, you can edit template files directly. Go to “Design > Theme Editor” to modify template files, but exercise caution, as incorrect changes can break your site.
- Upload Custom Images: Replace default images with your own by uploading them to the appropriate theme folder.
- Extensions and Modules: Install and configure OpenCart extensions and modules to add specific features or functionality to your store.
- Test and Preview: Continuously test your store’s appearance and functionality as you make changes. Use the “Preview” option to see how your store looks to customers.
c) Add Extensions and Modules
OpenCart Extensions are addons that add various functionality to your store. OpenCart has a robust extension system that allows you to add extra functionality to your store. Using OpenCart Extensions for your store.
a) Choose and Purchase an Extension:
Select an Extension: Identify the extension or module you need for your store. You can find extensions in the OpenCart Extension Marketplace or from third-party developers. Make sure the extension is compatible with your OpenCart version.
Purchase and Download: Purchase the extension, and you’ll usually receive a download link or file. Download the extension package to your computer.
b) Install the Extension:
Log in to Your Admin Panel: Access your OpenCart admin panel using your credentials.
Navigate to Extensions: In the admin panel, go to the “Extensions” menu and select “Extension Installer.”
Upload the Extension: Click on the “Upload” button and select the extension package you downloaded earlier (usually a ZIP file). Click “Upload.”
Install the Extension: After the extension package is uploaded successfully, go to the “Extensions” menu again, but this time select the specific extension category (e.g., Modules, Payments, Shipping, etc.). Find your newly uploaded extension and click the “Install” button.
Configure the Extension: After installation, click the “Edit” button for the extension in the Extensions list to access its settings. Configure the extension according to your requirements. These settings may vary depending on the extension’s functionality.
c. Enable the Extension:
Enable the Extension: In the same settings page where you configured the extension, make sure it’s set to “Enabled” or “Active.”
Save Changes: Save your changes, and the extension/module should now be active on your store.
d. Customize and Integrate:
Customize Module Positions: If it’s a module that needs to be displayed on specific pages, configure its position and layout in “Design > Layouts.”
Integrate with Payment or Shipping Methods (if applicable): Some extensions, like payment gateways or shipping methods, may require additional setup. Go to “Extensions > Payments” or “Extensions > Shipping” to configure these integrations.
e. Test the extensions:
Thoroughly test the extension’s functionality on your store to ensure it works as expected.
Test on Various Devices: Check how the extension behaves on different devices, ensuring it is responsive and user-friendly.
Explore and install extensions for features like SEO optimization, shipping, payment gateways, and more.
c) Configure Settings on OpenCart
d) Add Product Categories
Organize your products into categories by going to “Catalog” > “Categories.” and fill in Category Information. You will be presented with a form where you can enter details for your new category. Here are some of the important fields you may need to fill in:
- Category Name: Enter the name of your category (e.g., “Electronics”).
- Parent Category: If this category is a subcategory of another, select the parent category here.
- Description: You can add a description of the category if you wish.
Meta Tag Title, Description, and Keywords: These are used for SEO purposes.
- Image: You can upload an image to represent the category.
Sort Order: Set the position where this category will appear in category lists.
- Create proper SEO URLs for categories
e) Add Product After Creating Categories
In order to add products to your store, go to the “Catalog” menu and select “Products” to add and manage your products.
Click “Add New” to create a new product, where you can specify details like name, description, price, and images and fill in the Product Information:
You will be presented with a form where you can enter details for your new product. Here are some of the important fields you may need to fill in:
- Product Name: Enter the name of your product.
- Description: Add a detailed description of the product.
- Meta Tag Title, Description, and Keywords: These are used for SEO purposes.
- Model: Enter a model or reference number for your product.
- Price: Set the price of the product.
- Quantity: Enter the initial quantity of the product you have in stock.
- Status: Choose “Enabled” to make the product visible in your store.
- Image: You can upload product images to showcase the item.
- Manufacturer: If applicable, select the manufacturer of the product.
- Categories: Choose the category or categories to which this product belongs.
- Related Products: You can specify related products if you want to cross-sell items.
- Special: If you have a special price or offer for this product, you can set it here.
- Create SEO URLs for your product
f) Manage Orders and Customers:
After you have done with your categories and products, it’s time to work on your orders and customers.
To manage orders in OpenCart, you can follow these steps to view orders, process payments, and update order statuses as needed.
- Log in to the OpenCart administration panel
- Click on the Sales menu and select Orders
- This will show you a list of all orders in your store. You can filter the list by various criteria, such as order status, customer name, or order date
- To view the details of an order, click on the order number
- You can update the order status, add or remove products, or generate an invoice for the order
- To add a new order, click on the Insert button
- Enter the customer information, shipping address, and product details
- Click on the Save button to create the order
- Use the order filters to quickly find the orders you need.
- Use the order status to track the progress of an order
- Generate invoices for orders
- Send emails to customers about their orders
- Export orders and customers to a spreadsheet
In order to manage customers in OpenCart, you need to follow these steps:
- Log in to the OpenCart administration panel
- Click on the Sales menu and select Customers
- This will show you a list of all customers in your store. You can filter the list by various criteria, such as customer name, email address, or order history
- To view the details of a customer, click on the customer name
- You can update the customer information, add or remove shipping addresses, or view the customer’s order history
- To add a new customer, click on the Insert button
- Enter the customer information, shipping address, and contact details
- Click on the Save button to create the customer
g) SEO Optimization:
To use SEO at its full potential OpenCart provides some basic SEO features through which you can optimize your website for SEO.
However, if you need more advanced features of SEO, you need a premium plugin.
So how to use OpenCart for SEO Optimization. For SEO optimization here are some tips on how to do it:
- Optimize your store for search engines by configuring SEO settings under “System” > “Settings.”
- Use relevant keywords, meta tags, and SEO-friendly URLs for your products and categories.
- Define SEO keywords for your pages
- Avoid duplicate content
- Use canonical URLs
- Optimize your images
- Use a sitemap
- Submit your sitemap to search engines
- Write clear and concise titles and meta descriptions for all of your pages.
- Keep your pages loading quickly.
- Use social media to promote your website and its content.
- Build backlinks to your website from other high-quality websites.
Maintenance is a crucial part of managing your OpenCart store. But first of all, it is very important to understand why you need maintenance.
Usually, when you use OpenCart you use a lot of third-party things like themes, modules and extensions, security plugins and hosting, etc.
Therefore most of these things become outdated over time and they may also be hit by malware and make your website vulnerable.
Therefore you need to follow certain steps to keep your maintenance cost low.
But how to use OpenCart for maintenance. Here are some tips:
- Back up your website regularly
- Scan your website for malware
- Optimize your website for speed
- Monitor your website traffic
- Test your website regularly
- Regularly update your OpenCart installation and extensions to ensure security and compatibility
- Backup your store’s database and files to prevent data loss.
- Use a reliable hosting provider
- Use a security plugin
- Keep your passwords secure
- Be careful what plugins you install
- Keep an eye on your inbox
i) Use OpenCart for Marketing and Promotion:
OpenCart is not just an OpenSource platform but it provides a lot of features and one such feature is marketing and promotion.
But how to use OpenCart for marketing. Find here are a few ideas:
- Utilize built-in marketing tools such as discounts, coupons, and newsletters to attract and retain customers.
- Integrate with social media and advertising platforms for broader reach.
- Create a referral program to encourage your customers to refer their friends and family
- Activate affiliate marketing in OpenCart
- Partner with other businesses to cross-promote your products and services
Apart from these, there are many different ways to market your business. Don’t be afraid to try new things and experiment with different strategies.
It takes time to build a successful business.
Don’t expect to see results overnight. Keep at it and you will eventually achieve your goals.
OpenCart offers a wide range of features and flexibility for managing your e-commerce store.
Make sure to consult the official documentation and community forums.
This will give you a clear idea of how to use OpenCart seamlessly like a pro for more detailed information and troubleshooting guidance,