What is OpenCart: Characteristics, Features, Pros & Cons

If you have ever created an online shop for your business, you might have heard of various technologies such as Shopify, Wix, BigCommerce, Volusion, WooCommerce, Magento, Shopware, PrestaShop, and OpenCart, etc. These are all different types of e-commerce platforms such as SaaS, OpenSource & Headless E-commerce. They allow you to build your online store very conveniently but here we will delve into what is OpenCart.

We will also look into what are the various characteristics, features, costs, advantages, and disadvantages of OpenCart.  We at TMD Software is an official premium partner of OpenCart for the last 10 years and have published hundreds of Modules and Themes for OpenCart. If you already have an online shop or store which may not necessarily be in OpenCart but you want to upgrade it to some other e-commerce platform such as OpenCart, then this article will definitely help you.


What is OpenCart?

OpenCart is a free and open-source e-commerce platform popular all over the globe. OpenCart is a popular choice for startups, retailers, and small businesses. It is easy to use and customize with readily available modules and features add-ons along with a large community of developers for getting custom support required for your e-commerce store.

The framework is completely written in PHP programming language and is based on the MVC (Model-View-Controller) architectural pattern and uses a MySQL database. It is also an OpenSource platform which means the framework is free to use. But this does not mean you can scale your store free of cost. Premium modules and themes may incur some costs in order to implement some functionality in your store to upgrade your website.

According to BuiltWith.Com OpenCart powers over 309501 live websites around the globe. This figure indeed tells us that OpenCart is globally acclaimed as one of the popular and recognized e-commerce platforms for businesses to build their stores. Therefore if you are looking for a free and open-source e-commerce platform that is easy to use and customize, then OpenCart is a good option for your business.


Features of OpenCart E-commerce Framework


Some of the top OpenCart features include:

a) Dashboard for Admins

The admin dashboard is the first thing you see when you log into the OpenCart admin panel. The default dashboard provides various overviews such as total orders, total sales, total customers, and Sales analysis with a filter to choose your data daily, weekly monthly, and yearly. It also contains a
a world map that indicates where your orders are coming from.


b) Unlimited Products & Categories

The Unlimited Products & Categories feature in OpenCart allows you to add an unlimited number of products and categories to your store. You can add as many categories and subcategories as you need them. The categories thereafter reflect in the product master to group items in store as per the category of products defined.


c) Discounts & Coupons

The Discounts & Coupons feature in OpenCart allows store owners to offer discounts and coupons to their customers. Discounts can be applied to products, categories, or the entire store. Coupons can be redeemed by customers for a specific discount or free shipping. Some of the things you can do with the Discounts & Coupons feature in OpenCart are:

  • Create discounts for specific products or categories
  • Create coupons that offer a specific discount or free shipping
  • Set limits on how many times a coupon can be used
  • Schedule discounts and coupons to start and end on specific dates
  • Track usage of coupons/discounts applied to your store


d) OpenCart Customer Accounts

A Customer Account in OpenCart is a record of a customer’s information, including their name, email address, shipping address, billing address, and order history. Customer accounts are created when a customer registers on your store’s website. Customer accounts allow customers to track their order history save their shipping and billing information for future checkouts and manage their account settings and access all exclusive discounts and promotions.

Some of the features of Customer Accounts in OpenCart:

  • Customers can create an account online by providing their name, email address, and password
  • They can sign in to their account using an email address and password
  • Customers can view and update their profile information
  • They can view their order history, including the order date, order number, product(s) purchased, and order status
  • Save shipping and billing information for future checkouts
  • Get Email notifications including order confirmations, shipping confirmations, and order status updates.
  • Manage their account settings, such as their password, newsletter preferences, and notification settings


e) Multi-Store

The multistore feature in OpenCart allows you to manage multiple online stores from a single admin panel. Therefore it allows you to create multiple storefronts. These storefronts can be customized with separate designs, products, prices, and languages while sharing a single backend for easy management. Once you’ve set up a multistore, you can manage all of your stores from the admin panel and have access to all sales reports, add products, and change settings for each store. However there are some limitations of the Multistore feature in OpenCart viz Not all extensions are compatible, it can be complex to set up, and it can be resource-intensive.


f) Multi-Currency & Multi-Language Support

Multi-Currency & Multi-Language features in OpenCart allow you to sell your products in multiple currencies and languages. You can easily enable Multi-Currency and Multi-Language Support on your OpenCart store, the only thing you will need is to Install the Multi-Currency & Multi-Language extension and configure the extension settings and add the supported currencies and languages. Once you have enabled Multi-Currency & Multi-Language Support, you will be able to display product prices in the selected currencies, display the store in the selected languages, and finally allow customers to choose their preferred currency and language.


g) Attributes & Options

The terms “Attributes” and “Options” are used to define product variations or characteristics that differentiate products from each other. Attributes are typically displayed in a table on the product page, and customers can use them to filter their search results. For example, if you are selling T-shirts, some common attributes could be “Color” and “Size.” Each attribute can have multiple options associated with it. Customers can select the desired attributes when viewing a product, and based on their selection, the available options may change accordingly.

Unlike attributes, options do not typically have multiple values associated with them. Options may provide various choices to customers for a specific product including custom design. For example, selling a personalized mug can have the following options such as “Add a custom name” and “Select a color.” where customers can choose to personalize their mug with a custom name and choose the color they prefer.


h) Customizable Design

Customizable Design in OpenCart allows you to change the appearance of your store without having to modify the code. OpenCart provides a Theme Editor to do those changes where you can make changes to the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files that make up your store’s design. However, if you are not comfortable making changes to the code, you can also use a readily available theme.

Using the Customizable Design feature in OpenCart includes you can derive benefits such as increased flexibility, reduced development costs, and improved customer experience. But, there are also some limitations to using the Customizable Design feature in OpenCart. The Theme Editor can be complex to use, especially if you are not familiar with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript it can break your store if you don’t have the required technical knowledge


i) OpenCart Secure Checkout

The secure checkout process is a phase where customers finalize their purchases and provide sensitive information such as payment details and personal data on your website. Therefore they are designed to protect your customer data and prevent fraudulent transactions online on your website. The measures include 3D Secure security protocol for online transactions., SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) protocol for encryption and IP Address Verification and fraud detection. The Secure Checkout feature is an important part of any OpenCart store. Therefore implementing these security measures helps online businesses to protect their customers’ data and prevent fraudulent transactions.


j) SEO Friendly

The SEO features in OpenCart include SEO-friendly URLs, Meta Tags, Canonical URLs, and XML Sitemaps to ensure that all your important pages are discovered and ranked appropriately. It also provides Breadcrumb Navigation, Mobile Responsive and. Mobile-friendly websites favored by search engines for a better user experience.

Other SEO features in OpenCart include Optimized Images, URL Rewriting, Social Media Integration, Product Reviews, and Ratings and Featured Rich Snippets OpenCart also supports the integration of structured data, including rich snippets, Speed Optimization: While not a feature unique to OpenCart, optimizing your store’s loading speed can positively impact both user experience and SEO rankings.

But these features are just part of a comprehensive SEO strategy. Effective SEO time for doing a lot of work on-site optimizations, quality content creation, link building, keeping up with SEO best practices, and staying informed about updates and changes for long-term success.


k) Integrated Shipping in OpenCart Features

The Integrated Shipping feature in OpenCart refers to the platform’s ability to seamlessly connect and integrate with various shipping carriers and methods.


l) Integrated Payment Gateways

With Integrated Payment Gateways in OpenCart, customers can select their preferred payment methods, such as credit cards, debit cards, digital wallets, or other online payment options, directly on the checkout page. These payment gateways are configured and activated within the OpenCart admin panel.


m) Return Merchandise Authorization

A Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) feature in OpenCart is a tool that allows customers to return products that they are not satisfied with. To use the RMA feature in OpenCart, customers will need to create a return request. This can be done by going to the “My Account” page and clicking on the “Returns” tab. Customers have to feed information about the product they want to return, such as the order number and the reason for the return.

Once a return request has been submitted, the merchant will need to approve or deny the request. If the request is approved, the customer will be able to print a return shipping label. The customer will then need to ship the product back to the merchant.

Once the product has been returned, the merchant will need to inspect it to make sure that it is in good condition. If the product is in good condition, the merchant will issue a refund to the customer. If the product is not in good condition, the merchant may deny the refund.


n) OpenCart Affiliate Programs

Affiliate Programs in e-commerce typically involve a partnership between an online store owner (the merchant) and individuals or other websites (affiliates) who promote the merchant’s products or services. Affiliates earn a commission for each sale or action generated through their referral links.

For setting up an affiliate program for your OpenCart store, you might consider looking for third-party extensions or integrations that provide this functionality. These extensions can allow you to:

  • Create affiliate accounts: Allow individuals or websites to sign up as affiliates for your store
  • Generate unique referral links: Provide affiliates with special links that track referrals and sales
  • Track referrals and commissions: Monitor affiliate performance, track clicks, and conversions, and calculate commissions
  • Set commission rates: Define how much affiliates earn for each successful referral or sale
  • Payment management: Facilitate payments to affiliates based on their earnings.

However, to find a suitable affiliate marketing extension for OpenCart, you can explore the OpenCart marketplace or other reputable third-party extension providers.


o) Security Features in OpenCart

Some security features in OpenCart include CSRF protection, IP blacklisting, File permissions, SSL support, and Security updates.


p) Backup & Restore

The Backup & Restore feature option in OpenCart allows you to create backups of your store’s data and files. It offers data protection that helps you to avoid losing customer data, product information, and other important data. Moreover, if you have a backup, you can restore your store to its previous state if an update goes wrong. Security features also help you to migrate your store to a new server or domain, you can use a backup to restore your store’s data to the new location.

To create a backup in OpenCart, go to System > Backup / Restore and click the Backup button. You can then select the tables that you want to back up. By default, all of the tables in your store’s database will be selected. Once you have selected the tables, click the Backup button again to start the backup process. The backup process will take a few minutes to complete. Once the backup is complete, you will be able to download the backup file. You should save the backup file to a safe location where you can access it if needed.


q) Free Updates for the OpenaCart Core Platform

As an Opencart user, one of the most exciting features to look forward to is free updates for the core platform. This means that you won’t have to worry about paying anything extra to update your Opencart installation to the latest version.

An up-to-date platform will help you to protect your store from security vulnerabilities keeping your store safe. To check for updates, go to System > Updates. If there are any updates available, you will see them listed in the Available Updates section.


Other Notable Features of Opencart

By now you have seen some of the important features of OpenCart however there are a lot more features to discuss on OpenCart, but let’s keep it short. Some of the other notable features of OpenCart are:

  • Product Reviews & Rating
  • Wishlist feature
  • Mail & SMS Notification
  • Group Pricing of Customers
  • Automated Image Resizing
  • Sales Analysis & Reporting
  • Reward Points & Gift Vouchers
  • One Page Check Out
  • Guest Checkout
  • Newsletter Management
  • Printable Invoices & Shipping Labels
  • Product Comparision
  • Social Media Integration
  • GDPR compliance and much more.


Pros & Cons of OpenCart

Pros of OpenCart:

  • Free and open-source: OpenCart is free to use and download, and its source code is available for anyone to modify which makes it a cost-effective solution for everyone looking to implement OpenCart
  • Easy to use: OpenCart is easy to set up and manage, even for those with no prior experience with e-commerce platforms. It is intuitive and straightforward, and plenty of tutorials and documentation are also available online
  • Customizable: OpenCart is highly customizable, so you can easily change the look and feel of your store to match your branding. Readily available extensions make it even more feasible to add various functionality to your store
  • Scalable: OpenCart is scalable, so you can easily grow your store as your business grows. You can add more products, categories, and customers as your store grows
  • Active community: OpenCart has a large and active community of users and developers to avail support if needed which can be a paid support service or a non-paid service


Cons of OpenCart:

  • Not as feature-rich as some other platforms: OpenCart is not as feature-rich as some other e-commerce platforms, such as Magento or WooCommerce. For example, OpenCart does not have built-in support for gift cards or coupons
  • Security: OpenCart has been known to have security vulnerabilities in the past. Therefore it is important to keep your store up to date from time to time with the latest security patches.
  • Maintenance: OpenCart requires regular maintenance to keep it running smoothly. This includes taking databases and files backup, updating the software, and fixing bugs in the software.
  • Technical knowledge: OpenCart can be a complex platform to manage, especially for those with no prior experience with e-commerce platforms. It is important to have some technical knowledge in order to set up and manage your store effectively.
  • Outdated design: OpenCart’s design is outdated compared to other e-commerce platforms. This isn’t a major issue but it could be a turn-off for customers who are used to more modern UI/UX intuitive designs.



OpenCart is an e-commerce framework, therefore it is at par excellence with other popular e-commerce platforms. You can also use OpenCart at its full potential using the readily available themes, modules, and extensions from the online marketplace for scaling any business.

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