OpenCart and WordPress with a pre-installed WooCommerce extension are popular tools for launching online stores. An open source code, a free application license and ease of exploration are those things that make the systems similar to each other. However, there are also multiple distinctions between them. Nevertheless, both CMS solve the same task – they help set up and manage online sales on a site without a large budget and special skills.
OpenCart is a system focused exclusively on eCommerce. It offers all the tools required to manage a web store “out of the box”: product catalog, shopping cart, checkout page. WooCommerce is a custom extension for the full-featured WordPress software. It also adds all the functions required for online trading to the system. However, it takes more time to set up such a store as you initially have to master WordPress itself. Will that become a problem? We have figured that out in our detailed comparison of both platforms.
The engines are identical at first glance. On the one hand, this is true – OpenCart and WooCommerce can both be used to create similar stores (at least in terms of functionality). On the other hand, there are many other important factors: ease of use, customization options, project promotion and scaling perspectives.
OpenCart and WordPress + WooCommerce are free web store development tools. If you have time, try both engines. It is not necessary to complete the project. You can limit yourself to exploring the control panel and settings along with adding a couple of products to the catalog. This will help you decide which platform works best for you. OpenCart and WooCommerce both have certain nuances, but they can be handled.
OpenCart vs WooCommerce: General Overview
OpenCart has distinguished itself as a powerful eCommerce CMS. It does not work for other tasks: all its functionality centers around online sales. In the basic configuration, OpenCart has everything you need to start a digital store: a catalog, a filter system, a shopping cart, integration with payment systems, tools for promotion and statistics collection. You can download and install the international CMS version for free to further integrate the required extensions.
WooCommerce has gained a reputation as an eCommerce plugin for WordPress. It can be installed for free from the built-in catalog of add-ons. WooCommerce adds an additional section to the WordPress admin panel, which contains tools for web store management.
WordPress + WooCommerce application is one of the most popular ways to create an online store. This is mostly due to the ease of setup and a large number of related essentials: templates and plugins that extend WooCommerce functionality.
OpenCart and WordPress + WooCommerce are created with online store set up in mind. Both systems cope with the task equally well. OpenCart, however, is a specialized eCommerce software. You won’t be able to launch any other project, except for a web store, with it. WordPress with the WooCommerce plugin is much more flexible and versatile. An online store can only be a part of this project – along with a blog, forum and other sections.
OpenCart vs WooCommerce: Which One Is Easier to Use?
If we compare OpenCart with WordPress+WooCommerce, then OpenCart will be more complicated in all aspects. If you want to install a new theme, you initially need to download it to your computer, then upload it to the server via FTP and then select it in the website settings. You may also face the need to make your website URL human-friendly. To do this, you will have to manually edit each URL. By the way, if you have several show window versions (for different languages), then you’ll need to form the path for each web page version separately.
The process of adding basic modules to the website looks complicated as well. You have to edit the layouts, arranging block positions with modules in them. This is not quite difficult, but get ready that you will get confused a couple of times before you learn the required sections. Generally, you have to get used to the OpenCart admin panel – you won’t be able just to access it to immediately proceed to your web store set up.
As for WooCommerce, it is as easy as WordPress. If you have already worked with the CMS, you won’t notice any differences. WooCommerce is installed in the “Plugins” section of the admin panel. Extensions and themes for it are also available in built-in WordPress catalogs. If you download materials from third-party websites, you won’t face any problems either – plugins and templates are uploaded to the server through the WP admin panel, without any FTP connection.
Right after you install WooCommerce, you will see the setup wizard. You are not obliged to use it – this is just a convenient environment to explore the baseline web store parameters. The setup wizard shows the pages, which are already created on the website: a storefront, a shopping cart, order placement, a customer’s personal account. It also offers to set local online store parameters: location, currency, measurement units. Additionally, you can quickly set delivery and tax settings as well as select a payment system.
WooCommerce baseline setup takes 5 minutes. You can change the settings any time afterwards – for example, you can set other measurement units or connect additional payment systems. To add product cards, you should use the same editor, which is used for publishing blog posts on WordPress. There are also built-in tools for catalog export/import and a shopping cart here. OpenCar, in its turn, doesn’t have any integrated tools to work with bulk import/export.
To sum it up, both engines work well for beginners and business owners, who want to create an online store without coding. Mastering WooCommerce, however, is faster. Almost all the steps are completed from the WordPress admin panel. OpenCart does not set impossible tasks for a user, but it will definitely take more time to deal with the admin panel, layout setup, module/template integration. Such a web store, however, can potentially be more large-scale and complicated.
OpenCart vs WooCommerce: Design and Flexibility
OpenCart is a distinctive eCommerce software. Right after its installation, you get a ready-made online store with product samples. You just have to fill the catalog with your products.
WooCommerce is also a specialized eCommerce tool. This is not, however, a full-featured system, but an addition to the existing software (it works with WordPress only)
Comparison of Main Features
The major OpenCart features are as follows:
- product filtering system;
- various online payment options and delivery services;
- purchase tracking system;
- simple registration of customers on the site;
- personal customer account with information about orders and availability of order management tools;
- system of discounts, special offers and promotional codes;
- product status system: new products, bestsellers, recommended products etc.;
- opportunity to subscribe to web store news about promotions and special offers;
- integration with popular trading platforms.
Just like OpenCart, WooCommerce offers an equally interesting set of baseline features for online trading:
- creation of catalogs with any structure of product categories and subcategories;
- order management;
- simple customer registration;
- integrated tools for statistics collection;
- opportunity to configure payment, taxation, delivery settings with regard to a client’s location;
- support for different payment options: cash, bank cards, electronic money;
- built-in marketing tools: discounts, bonuses, special offers, promotional codes, sales, blocks with the most popular and recommended products;
- a system for evaluating products by customers;
- flexible management of various user group rights;
- integrated setup wizard (for beginners).
There is almost parity here. You can see the major distinctions when comparing individual features in detail only. They differ in implementation methods and convenience.
Product Catalog (Import/Export)
OpenCart allows creating complex catalog structures with an unlimited number of categories. It is possible to quickly create a list of manufacturers (brands). Each of them will have a separate page with product description and filter.
The software pays much attention to the complexity of the catalog: product options, related items, kits (sets), recommendations and ready-made filters for all these characteristics.
Although OpenCart was initially designed to work with large catalogs, it does not offer the opportunity of product import/export out of the box. Such functionality is added by means of paid plugin integration only.
WooCommerce also provides quite a complex approach to the process of catalog formation yet it does not have built-in options for filtering by manufacturers (if required, it is easily added by using tags and attributes). However, the system has an import/export option.
Both web stores include the opportunity to sell intangible goods, but only WooCommerce can organize the process of trading the affiliate products out of the box. OpenCart requires special modules to do this.
Multilingual and Multi-Storefront Support
WordPress works with one interface language and one storefront by default. It is possible to implement multilingual store support via free plugin integration. However, you run the risk of facing problems when trying to implement multi-storefront support. The thing is that WooCommerce works with one WordPress website only. As for WordPress, you can activate the multisite option, but these can technically be either subdomains or subcatalogs of the main website only.
OpenCart supports all the required functions out of the box: several languages and several standalone storefronts (multistore).
Both engines work great with different currencies.
Integrations and Add-Onn (Module) Support
OpenCart is a module-based system. Some modules are built-in, for example, product carousels, “Bestsellers” and “Newest” blocks, Google analytics tools. Other modules require additional installation. This allows for flexible control of the software functionality. It is you, who chooses management tools that will be displayed in the web store admin panel.
The system functionality can be extended via plugin integration: languages, templates, delivery and payment methods, analytics system reports etc.
WooCommerce is not a full-fledged CMS, but only an extension for WordPress. This, however, does not prevent the plugin from having its own add-on system. A large number of extensions has been developed for it. They are distributed either through the original WooCommerce marketplace or through the general WordPress plugin catalog (there are over a thousand of compatible add-ons here). You can add a number of features, using these plugins, for example, advanced filtering, slides, additional tabs with product information, payment systems etc.
Both systems have a huge number of extensions and modules. Many of them are provided on a free basis, while others are paid. There are also extensions offered out-of-the-box. Likewise, there are those that require additional integration.
There are no ready-made official applications for OpenCart. However, you can find a large number of available connectors online (they are designed to view important events on the store website and to receive prompt notifications). They are created by third-party developers. There is an important nuance here: such applications gain access to your web store data, which is associated with potential risks.
Multiple free mobile applications for iOS and Android have been officially released for WooCommerce. They are meant for administrators only. It is much easier to manage your store from a smartphone and receive prompt notifications about important events (orders, comments, errors etc.) with these apps. There are separate applications for WordPress and for the Jetpack plugin as well. However, they don’t include WooCommerce store management functionality.
The development of branded applications for both platforms is possible, since there is a ready-made API. The procedure, however, will be quite expensive (even if developers have a pre-designed application template).
Client Management / CRM
Both WooCommerce and OpenCart have all the tools for customer base and order management. This, however, is baseline functionality, which comes with minimal automation elements.
Thus, if you wish to expand your automatic client tracking scripts, you will have to connect special modules and integrate external CRM systems.
If there are no ready-made modules for the CRM you are interested in, you can always use the software API.
There are ready-made integrations for such popular services as Bitrix24, AmoCRM, RetailCRM, SalesDrive etc. online.
There is no native CRM module for OpenCart. You can use only third-party solutions.
When it comes to WooCommerce, there is almost a native solution for it (from plugin and mobile application developers) – Jetpack CRM. It is distributed both on a free and paid basis, has many ready-made integrations, and works on your server (thus, it has no restrictions as to the number of users or the number of requests, disk space etc.).
Domain and Mailout Email Options
Both platforms have ample opportunities for working with domain mail and mailouts. It is always important to check your host capabilities. Bluehost, recommended by the WordPress developers, for example, offers a separate corporate email service.
OpenCart can work with SMTP out of the box. As a result, it will be easier to set up notifications from your domains in the address here.
As for WooCommerce, you can manually fix the automatic notification templates for customers and the store owner. Additionally, you can connect external services that can be used for conducting marketing mailouts.
WordPress (and, thus, WooCommerce) does not work with the SMTP protocol by default. To integrate with domain mail, you will need a special plugin or a plugin of one one of the mailing systems (emails will be sent not from the mail server and not from your own server).
There is a large number of ready-made niche templates for OpenCart. However, there are only a couple of dozen of them in the official catalog. It is very difficult to find quality free themes. The average cost of a premium template is about $40-$80.
Template installation is quite complicated in OpenCart. This is due to the architecture of the software. As far as additional functions and modules are often required for proper functioning of specific template options, they must be initially added to the list of pre-installed themes, activated, and then used for display in the client part (in the storefront).
That is why, many template developers frequently offer to download an archive for a quick start instead of using a simple theme package (this is basically an engine, in which all the necessary changes have been made and which can be installed on hosting for further work with demo data).
The basic work on the customization of your OpenCart project takes place in a special editor. You can control the output of blocks (modules) that make up a template here. Just hover over a section to see the control tools. This interface, however, is not as convenient as that in WordPress page builders (the best Page Builder representative is Elementor). There are similar page builders for OpenCart, but they are notably more expensive and cannot boast advanced functionality.
To change the template design, you are most likely to edit theme files (Twig template engine syntax is used here). This can be done in the “Design” section, in which the built-in template editor is available.
Speaking about WordPress, there is an incredible number of templates on the web – there are tens of thousands of them out there. The selection is exhaustive – both in the official catalog of the system and on third-party websites. TemplateMonster and ThemeForest are very popular. There are many free themes in the official catalog. Some of them are compatible with WooCommerce.
The built-in Gutenberg block editor ensures a special freedom of actions. It is easily expanded in terms of the available block set. It is possible to add patterns here (different stylized design options for existing blocks).
The available editor is easily supplemented or replaced by any others. We have already mentioned the best example of a convenient page builder – Elementor. There are also analogues that come with the same functionality. Elementor, however, is undoubtedly compatible with WooCommerce. Moreover, there are a lot of specific features designed exclusively for the eCommerce niche.
WooCommerce design settings are the same as in WordPress. If you intend to deeply customize a template, you need to edit its files. Many premium templates, however, have their own flexible customization system, which allows customizing a template with simple mouse clicks.
Cool themes for WooCommerce online stores can be found at $40-$65. Along with the template, you can get access to the set of premium plugins.
WooCommerce is a simpler tool for online store management in all aspects. You won’t have any problems with product catalog creation and filling or with website design customization, when using the software. Almost any task can be solved with the help of themes and extensions. OpenCart is quite a nice eCommerce tool as well. However, it notably lags behind WooCommerce in terms of convenience. OpenCart initially targets web design pros rather than a wide audience. Thus, it is less popular with newbies.
OpenCart vs WooCommerce: General Pricing Comparison
OpenCart and WordPress + WooCommerce are free tools for web store creation. Mandatory expenses include the cost of hosting and domain. Let’s estimate the approximate price of launching an online store on the example of Bluehost – hosting, which is recommended by various CMS developers of various CMS, including WordPress.
To set up a small digital store on OpenCart, virtual (shared) hosting will be enough. Currently, there are 4 plans here:
- Basic ($2.95/mo) — 1 website, free SSL, 50GB of storage space, free 1-year domain, custom themes, WP integration, 24/7 customer support, special website builder for WP, free CDN etc.;
- Plus ($5.45/mo) — unlimited number of websites, unlimited disk storage space, extra ad budget, free Office 365 for 30 days;
- Choice Plus ($5.45/mo) — Plus Plan features, free domain privacy, advanced backup management tool for 1 year etc.;
- PRO ($13.95/mo) — free dedicated IP, optimized CPU resources, premium SSL certificate, free backups.
Bluehost offers a special set of pricing plans for WordPress+WooCommerce. Its highlight is the availability of specialized technical support and a ready-made environment configuration (you get an installed engine, a WooCommerce plugin and a compatible template right after the installation). There are two plans here:
- Standard ($15.95/mo) — online store (website+blog), unlimited disk storage space, installed theme with a display option, free SSL, website traffic analytics, manual order creation, free Jetpack installation, customer product reviews, discount codes, domain name protection etc.;
- Premium ($32.95/mo) — unlimited number of web stores, unlimited disk storage space, access to official paid WooCommerce extensions (add-ons for products cards, booking system, work with subscriptions etc.).
If you run out of all the general hosting features and resources, you will have to switch to VPS hosting (this will cost you from $19.99/mo) or to dedicated server solutions (from $79.90/mo), when working with OpenCart.
When it tackles WordPress, you will have an opportunity to switch to Managed WordPress pricing. The plans imply the use of one website only, while server resources will be allocated as in VPS configurations. You won’t have to work with any hosting panels. The entire website management process is notably simplified.
- Build ($9.95/mo) — 2GB of disk server space, Jetpack Personal, global CDN network, free backups and Staging Environment, domain name protection, built-in antivirus. The plan is meant for websites with 50K users per month;
- Grow ($14.95/mo) — 40GB of disk server space, Jetpack Premium, special SEO-tools (including review tools), up to 10GB video compression, priority ticket support, up to 150K visitors per month;
- Scale ($27.95/mo) — 80GB of disk server space, Jetpack Professional, unlimited backups, PayPal integration, Elastic Search, unlimited video compression, priority live chat support, up to 500K users per month.
Creation of simple (starter) web stores on OpenCart and WooCommerce will require a comparable budget. The price difference will become noticeable as the traffic growth and extra functionality is added. OpenCart will cost you more both in terms of hosting and add-ons/templates. As for WooCommerce, there are more opportunities to use free extensions. What’s more, there are more chances to find special hosting fees for WordPress websites (Managed Hosting).
OpenCart vs WooCommerce: Which One Is the Best for SEO?
Search engine optimization opportunities mainly depend on the OpenCart configuration you are using. A popular international version implies the need for the paid SEO Pro extension installation to have an opportunity to generate correct human-friendly URLs. Other useful features for web store search engine optimization include:
- SSL certificate support for traffic encryption;
- GZIP compression to increase page load speed;
- title, description and key meta tags (title, description, keywords).
These are the baseline OpenCart SEO features. You can add extra tools using modules – both paid and free. You can initially go for free options that allow for markup customization, usage of extended web page descriptions, sitemap management and extended metadata editing.
WordPress offers poor SEO opportunities out-of-the-box. The situation will change after you install one of the full-featured plugins – All In One SEO Pack or Yoast SEO. They have nearly the same set of features:
- filling in meta tags for each page, category, product card;
- snippet preview — you see how the description card will be displayed in the search results right after you fill out the meta tags;
- built-in robots.txt and .htaccess file editor;
- adding canonical URLs for web pages;
- sitemap management.
Yoast SEO also has a paid version that allows setting redirects from one page to another. It offers tutorials and customer support as well.
When it comes to SEO, OpenCart and WooCommerce make it possible to achieve comparable results. The question is: how much effort should you invest? WooCommerce lets you achieve the desired result with one free plugin only. As for OpenCart, there are full-featured SEO plugins you can use here as well, but they are paid. You won’t be able to avail fast and high-quality results with free solutions.
Which One Works Best for a Web Store – OpenCart or WooCommerce?
If you already have a WordPress website, then the choice is obvious: just install the WooCommerce extension and fill the catalog with products. The process of web store management will be as easy as blog post management. All the attributes of a modern trading platform will be available here as well: a shopping cart, filtering, product cards, order page, online payment and various shipping methods.
If you are launching a web store from scratch, then the choice becomes not so obvious. There is no big difference, when there are only a few products in the catalog. In terms of functionality, the systems offer comparable terms. If some features are missing, you can add them via code or module integration. In both cases, the most useful extensions are distributed on a paid basis, so, there will not be much difference in the budget aspect as well.
If you are starting a store with 10,000-50,000 products, then it is more efficient to use OpenCart. It works better with filters and other eCommerce-specific functions. When working with WooCommerce, however, you may encounter performance issues. They are eliminated by means of proper optimization: CDN connection, caching and compression set up. This, correspondingly, requires the use of extra paid services or special hosting.
Key Differences Between OpenCart and WordPress (WooCommerce)
|Ease of Use:||You don’t need special skills to work with OpenCart, but it takes time to get used to the peculiarities of the admin panel structure and the procedure of website setup.||The WooCommerce plugin is installed from the built-in catalog available in the WordPress admin panel. It is set up in minutes. No special knowledge is required to manage a web store.|
|Functionality:||OpenCart offers a set of built-in and additional modules that extend the standard features of CMS. Using additional modules, for example, you can configure your web store SEO parameters etc.||WooCommerce has also developed plugins that extend its functionality. For instance, it is possible to connect additional payment systems, adjust SEO settings etc. here.|
|Design:||There are free and paid design options. They can be downloaded from the official OpenCart catalog or from third-party websites.|
When using free themes, you can find samples that are not completely responsive.
As to premium themes, almost all of them come with responsive design.
|WordPress also grants access to free and paid templates. You can use themes specially created for the CMS, but it is better to choose special niche templates for WooCommerce. This is a surefire way to avoid compatibility problems. The majority of free and paid themes are responsive by default.|
|eCommerce:||OpenCart offers all the required tools to organize and manage successful online trading: a storefront with a product catalog, cards with detailed descriptions, a shopping cart, an order page, a customer account, payment settings, shipping, tax collection, return options.||eCommerce opportunities are implemented by means of WooCommerce plugin integration. This lets you connect and manage a full-featured digital store with a few clicks only. All the must-have eCommerce features are available here for everyday use.|
|Blogging:||OpenCart-based web stores generally don’t have blogs. However, it is possible to connect the one by means of plugin integration, if required.||WordPress was initially created for blogging purposes. This means that digital stores launched with the software may come with blogs. There are multiple blog plugins compatible with WooCommerce as well.|
|Small Business:||OpenCart is exclusively an eCommerce CMS. Thus, it can be used for the development of small business projects that are associated with online trading.||The software grants access to multiple plugins, which were specially developed for small business projects, including eCommerce ones.|
|Pricing:||You can create a full-featured online store with a large product catalog, a filter system, online payment and various shipping methods for free. Get ready to invest in website hosting. The cost starts at $2.95/mo for the cheapest Bluehost plan, for example.||With WooCommerce, it is also possible to connect and manage a feature-rich web store without any fees. To run your digital store and to make it accessible on the web, you will have to get a hosting plan and a domain. The cost starts at $2.95/mo, when using Bluehost.|
|SEO:||OpenCart offers excellent opportunities for search promotion. SEO modules are used to obtain additional optimization tools. It is possible to fill out the required meta tags and other parameters for successful search engine optimization of your online store here.||WordPress provides a minimum set of search engine optimization tools out-of-the-box. The situation can be enhanced by means of installing complex SEO plugins like All In One Seo Pack or Yoast SEO, for example. They let you make the required SEO settings: fill out meta tags, adjust human-friendly URLs, set up redirects and canonical URLs, manage indexing and sitemap options.|
|Customer Support:||Community, dedicated and marketplace support, extensive knowledge base, ticketing system, community forum etc.||No official customer support, extensive worldwide user community, multiple forums etc.|
Comparison Conclusion: Which One Is Better?
WooCommerce is a simpler, more convenient and functional tool for starting a web store. The versatility of the built-in environment appeals to many users as well. WooCommerce is just a WordPress plugin that can be used to create different types of websites. A digital store can be just a part of another large-scale project here. For example, you make a popular blog, and sell your products on a separate page using WooCommerce.
OpenCart is a software, which is exclusively focused on eCommerce. It is also possible to publish promotion news on it, but the only task it excellently copes with is the sale of goods on the Internet. The only advantage OpenCart has over WordPress is better optimization. The engine creates less server load, even if there are several thousand products in the catalog. However, you can avail the same result, when using WordPress + WooCommerce with additional optimization options. If there are less than 3000 products in the catalog, your web store will function well anyway.