If you’re just starting out with a new eCommerce site, then you may have a lot of questions. We understand. It’s not easy to choose which platform to use when you’re just starting out. Plus, with all the various eCommerce platforms available, how do you know which services are best for your type of business?
In this article, we’re going to review a couple of the largest eCommerce platforms Magento and OpenCart. We’ll take a look at what they have to offer and what to consider before making the big decision on which platform is best for your business.
Questions to Answer Before Choosing an eCommerce Platform
Before deciding which platform is best for your business, it’s a good idea to answer a few questions. The reason is that the answers will help clarify which platform is the best option for your unique business.
Here are some questions to consider:
- Who will build your eCommerce platform? Do they have the necessary knowledge, experience and skills?
- After installation, will you manage the platform yourself? Or will you need managed maintenance services to keep everything running smoothly?
- Is it difficult to modify a basic template or the flow of the platform?
- Is there much support available online if you need help with the platform you choose? Is the community active and provide solutions?
- Would you like a flexible customised solution, or would it be better to have a standardised solution?
- Are there additional functions you may need for your online shop?
- Which eCommerce platforms support the features you need?
- Are you planning to sell outside your country?
- What about SEO—can you take care of this and social media?
- Will you run more than one store?
- What about content—do you have a content strategy? Will you combine your shop with WordPress?
- How much will licensing, hosting, extensions, and everything cost? Does this fit your budget?
While answering all of these questions can seem time-consuming, this is an important part of the process. Now, based on your answers, you’ll have a better idea of which platform is best for your business.
A Comparison: Magento vs OpenCart
Many people find that Magento and OpenCart have quite a bit in common. For one thing, they’re both open source and were designed to make eCommerce easier. In addition, both were based on PHP and use templates, which means they can be managed and maintained by even those who don’t have programming abilities. And both platforms include numerous extensions, plugins and addons that are easy to install, and improve the functionality needed by all different types of shops.
What’s more is that both OpenCart and Magento support multiple language and currencies. This gives users the ability to reach out to international audiences, which is a solution needed by a wide range of businesses.
Hosting Plans & Options
Here is where Magento & OpenCart part ways somewhat. It’s important to ensure the hosting plan you choose is able to support the needs of the eCommerce platform used for your shop.
For instance, Magento uses up a lot of resources. This means it will be necessary to have a strong hosting plan to support your store’s functionality and performance. If you choose Magento, then avoid using shared hosting. You’ll quickly outgrow this type of hosting service as your business grows. If you use shared hosting, your hosting provider may suggest hosing your backend on a separate server, just to keep your shop functioning.
When it comes to hosting Magento, you’ll need:
- To buy a separate domain name
- You’ll have complete control and flexibility over the development of your shop
- You’ll have the ability to host multiple stores
On the other hand, OpenCart’s platform is light weight, which means hosting services will be cheaper. Plus, it works best for small- or medium-sized shops, while Magento works best for medium and large businesses.
With OpenCart you’ll need:
- To buy a separate domain name
- You’ll have complete control over the creation of your shop
- Works great for small- to medium-sized businesses
Usage & Features
This is where some major differences come between OpenCart and Magento. Magento is flexible and can accommodate almost any type of functionality into your store. It also makes it easy to create customised shopping experiences, offers unlimited design options, and includes powerful SEO resources, along with an unlimited number of plugins and integrations.
Almost everything you’d like is built into the platform. And if you need additional functionality or customisation, then it’s easy to find and reach out to a certified Magento developer who can create the solution you need.
OpenCart, however, is much easier to use. But one thing to keep in mind is that the community is much smaller and not quite as responsive as the Magento community when you need help. However, this is also a great platform for startups who need to get up and running quickly, without using many integrations. The shopping cart is a powerful solution, which also includes tools that are easy to use and understand.
While both OpenCart and Magento have developer communities that are ready to provide guidance and support when you need it, these platforms are not equally matched here. Magento, for instance, has a larger community which is more active. The platform also certifies and recommends developers, so you know the people you work with have the credibility and knowledge you need.
OpenCart has a smaller community that’s not quite as active.
What can you expect from these platforms in regard to security? Let’s take a look:
- Magento: is very serious about security. They provide regular updates and security patches. You can also use SSL and WAF to protect your store, along with adding extensions that may be needed to further secure your site.
- OpenCart: has a strongly patched central system, provides official documents on best security practices, and offers security extensions.
Summing It Up
OpenCart is a great solution if you’d like to build a shop on your own. It’s intuitive to use; however, you may need to switch platforms if your business grows.
Magento is best for larger shops and those who have a larger budget for hosting services. You’ll find this is a highly flexible platform that offers all the functionality and support you’ll need into the future.