Introduction

OpenCart is one of the few open source store builders with an array of features and functionalities. According to the developer, OpenCart has more stores than Shopify or Magento. (350,000+ is a staggering number.)
The first public OpenCart release was in 1999 after originally developing the software for Walnut Creek CDROM and The FreeBSD Mall in 1998. The developer, Christopher G. Mann, developed it in Perl. Fast forward to 2005, Daniel Kerr rebuilt OpenCart with PHP, MySQL, and HTML.
For merchants that ask questions like OpenCart or Magento and OpenCart vs Shopify, here is an OpenCart review to help you decide.

Ease of Use

The back-end requires some knowledge of PHP programming. The front-end is customised through the dashboard, which is a good point-and-click control panel. You can also throw a little knowledge of PHP programming if you need more customisation. You can create products, categories, and filters swiftly and easily — this helps your customers find their desired products without an issue. You can also add images and change URLs with ease.
Products information (such as list price) will take some time to locate and add. Once you have grasped navigating through the tabs, everything becomes easy. The sales analytics is a detailed graph for today, week, month or year — which is right on the dashboard front page.
Overall, the dashboard is easy to use and will take a little time to get along with. Intuition is an attribute OpenCart has mastered. Moving through the pages and tabs are swift and transitions are smooth. A great user experience is guaranteed since the software is clean.

Themes

OpenCart themes and templates are powered by the developers and third-party theme developers (such as Envato, ThemeForest, TemplateMonster, and Colorlib, etc.) Most themes and templates are paid for while there is a handful of free ones. You can download (free) or buy (paid) from the Extension Store and third-party websites.
OpenCart ensures all these themes are responsive and mobile-friendly — which is a norm these days. Further, they are highly customisable. Since the code is open source, you can edit the code of the themes to your requirements.
At any time, you are free to move your OpenCart store to another software. But this might need a technical hand, so some websites offer this service. You’ll have to pay, on the other hand.

Features and Integrations

OpenCart is open source and so allows developers to expand the capabilities of the code by accessing the code and API.
OpenCart features an email marketing tool to start campaigns at any time and engage your customers. From one dashboard, you can manage multiple stores. Discounts, specials, and coupons are routes to keep up with the competition — and OpenCart allows you to create them from your dashboard.
Another great feature is the ability to set up your preferred backup and restore system. You can set up your store to sell in any given currency and language (among over 40 languages available).
OpenCart comes with payment integrations to about 36 gateways including PayPal, Authorize.Net, Skrill, and Amazon Payments. In addition to payment gateways, there is a number of shipping methods including FedEx, UPS, Australia Post, Royal Mail, Citylink, Parcelforce, and USPS, etc. OpenCart comes with its own analytics tool that delivers sales and products report.
You can browse through the OpenCart Extension Store for more integrations. Extensions include analytics, payment, SEO, security, and marketing, etc. Some extensions are free while some costs little to a lot of money.
If you decided to opt-in for the OpenCart Cloud service, there is a built-in integration to accept payments via PayPal, credit and debit cards. Further, your site is built on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and uses Content Delivery Networks (CDN) to serve your static files.

Performance

Five OpenCart websites had an average full loading time of 4.5s when tested on a desktop browser. On mobile, however, the average full loading time was 2s.
OpenCart shows an SEO tab when you want to add a product. It allows you to add an SEO URL and nothing more than that. The General tab handles the meta tags (title, description, and keywords) and categories. The only drawback is the absence of alt text in the Image tab. The Layouts section allows you to create a sitemap and other pages. On the last note, all SEO practices can be achieved with the flock of SEO extensions in the marketplace in OpenCart Extension Store.

Pricing

People get the term “open source” confused. It only means the source is open and free for anyone to download and use, but you cannot operate your store free of charge. The first expense kicks in after downloading the software — you need a host. OpenCart won’t take care of it, unlike other store builders. Hosting (web and domain name) and security (SSL certificate) are up to you. If you don’t have a hosting account, you can create one with OpenCart’s hosting partner A2 Hosting.
The hosting plans are branded as “The Perfect OpenCart Hosting Solution.” The Lite plan at £2.98/month is for a single site. Swift (£3.73 per month) is the most popular plan, which is for multiple sites and more unlimited options. Turbo plan is the big deal. It is Swift plan with more advanced features and priced at £7.08 per month.
However, if you prefer a cloud-based store from the developers, OpenCart Cloud is a good choice. The first two weeks are unlimited and free. After which you’ll have to buy one of the plans (Bronze, Silver. , and Gold). Bronze’s OpenCart cost is £25, Silver is £50 while Gold is £150 per month. (Also, there’s a 50% discount when billed annually.) All plans feature SSL certificate, daily backups, support desk, and unlimited orders, categories, and products. Bronze features a domain, 5GB storage, and one backup requests. Further, Silver features an upgrade to 25GB storage, additional email support, three manual backup requests, and three domain URLs. Lastly, Gold features 10 domain URLs, 75GB storage, five manual backup requests, and an additional phone support.
These are the two ways to examine OpenCart website price.

Customer Support

You can find solutions to your queries or questions in three ways. There is a community forum where issues are solved by support agents and other customers. OpenCart Documentation is a knowledgebase of common obstacles users face as well as tips, tricks, and development tutorials.
OpenCart gets more serious with their Premium Support service. You can get professional worry-free technical support at £75.25 for a one-time fix or the same amount paid monthly for monthly support. Users using the Gold plan are given a phone number to call as well as an email address. Those using Silver plan can use the latter alone.

Pros

Completely Free to Download
Open Source Code
13,000+ Extensions
Extremely Easy to Use

Cons

Programming Knowledge Required
Limited and Hierarchical Support
OpenCart Cloud is Expensive

Highlights

Is OpenCart Free?
OpenCart Cost
OpenCart Website Price
OpenCart Review 2017

Conclusion

Unlike other store builders that are born from website builders, OpenCart’s primary function is to build a fully functional online store. The fact that the software is free to download and open source for acute developments goes a long way. However, running an OpenCart store (with OpenCart Cloud) is expensive when compared to other software.
OpenCart’s ease of use is great. In fact, managing your store will be the easiest thing you’ve done. Although there is no drag-and-drop editor, the point-and-click is great.
I conclude this OpenCart review will a recommendation. I personally recommend OpenCart for all kinds of businesses. If your budget is large, OpenCart Cloud is a great option.