PHP Open Source Shopping Carts: OpenCart and Magento

If you are going to create an e-commerce site, it’s essential you get the right platform. While there are a lot of options available the most popular options now are OpenCart and Magento. If you can’t make up your mind which to get, here is a comparison of Magento and OpenCart and all their pertinent features.

Magento vs Opencart

Magento Features

One of the things going for Magento is it provides virtually limitless control over the user experience, feel and look, and you have full control over the user interface and the content marketing. Magento also offers full control over the SEO configuration and you can also enhance the user experience with its smart customer accounts, wish lists, product comparisons, order history and more.

Magento also has extra features like low stock reports, inventory, sales, product search and support for several web stores. Magento is also part of the X commerce platform that combines PayPal, eBay, GSI Commerce, RedLaser, Where and Milo.

OpenCart Features

OpenCart is available for free download and free program upgrades are also available. OpenCart can also be hosted easily and because it is lightweight download is easy and quick. It also has an admin panel for performing various tasks. Another notable feature of the platform is the numerous payment options made available such as WorldPay, PayPal, SagePay, and many more.

After that feature overview, here is a comparison of their other components and how they match up.

Hosted Solution

Magento has its own hosted system called Magento Go, and it works in a way just like WordPress in a way, and you can use it to make your own store. OpenCart on the other hand doesn’t have its own hosted solutions.

Content Management

As far as content management goes, OpenCart has a solid management system, but Magento’s is just as detailed, the difference being that content can be easily formatted. Its content management features also let you change the page layouts and also use Magento’s widgets so you can produce categories more easily.

Administration Panel

OpenCart has a well designed admin panel and it is also easy to use. It is actually easier to use than Magento’s but it doesn’t have as many customizable features. Magento’s admin panel has a lot of components but if you take the time to study you will appreciate the numerous options that are available.

If you plan to operate a large store, the features here will come in handy. While the options can be daunting, there are many training options available.

Themes

This is one of OpenCart’s strong points as there are a lot of themes available. While there are a lot to choose from, the PHP files are not abstracted from the HTML files, which can make management a bit difficult.

Magento also has a lot of themes, but the learning curve can be quite steep especially if you are a beginner. However, one advantage is that they are separate: PHTML files for templates, XML for the layout and the skin files like images and CSS. If you are serious about themes, you can also use Magento’s developer tools.

Documentation

This is one of the most important features of any e-commerce platform. Magento has a community forum and there is also a documentation wiki that you can use for reference, and there are also references available. OpenCart also has good documentation. While both have large community services OpenCart’s is more established.

Search Engine Friendliness

Magento has the edge here thanks to its SEO friendly URLs, and there are also fields where you can add meta data to individual pages and products. In contrast, OpenCart’s is not as user friendly and a bit of work has to be done so you can’t use it as it is out of the box.

Stability

Magento allows you to easily group attributes and its layered navigation filters work very well and deliver as advertised. You can also use the platform to handle several stores using a single control panel. Thanks to its admin panel, you will have little problem producing numerous products, so it is great for large e-commerce sites.

OpenCart is also capable of handling large products, and you can also use it to group the products by attributes like color or size and also by manufacturer. In fact OpenCart can handle 1500 products with no server problems.

The Checkout Process

Magento’s checkout has a single page so you don’t need to go through a long process. It uses JavaScript, but even if this is disabled, it won’t affect its performance much because it is well developed. OpenCart’s checkout process is more heavily reliant on JavaScript, so if this doesn’t work in a browser it night not work or have other problems.

Magento and OpenCart Head to Head

Both of them are open source and as such have a vibrant community and both don’t impose any limitations on their users. Unlike other e-commerce platforms, both of them have vibrant developer communities and provide support for them. In addition Magento and OpenCart are global with support for multiple currencies and languages.

As far as templates go, both Magento and OpenCart have templates, although the one provided by Magento is more comprehensive.

It is true both Magento and OpenCart have a lot of followers and it’s really up to the e-commerce developer which one to use. For the most part OpenCart is more suitable for small businesses, while Magento is more appropriate for those who run large e-commerce stores.

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About Fredrick

Fredrick H. Sliger has been working as a consultant in the e-commerce industry for more than 15 years. His specialty is in open source e-commerce along with the Magento extensions and he has made a thorough study of PHP open-source shopping carts: OpenCart and Magento. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.

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