In today’s internet world, almost each & every task is possible by using a computer, and shopping is one of them. eCommerce has become a giant industry with a global valuation of nearly 3.5 trillion dollars in 2019. It is having a presence everywhere from selling toothpaste to technical equipment, furniture, insurance policies, etc.
The global online retail sales figure is expected to reach 17.5% in 2021. B2B alone is expected to reach a valuation of $6.6 trillion by 2020. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, these stats can now vary. You wouldn’t believe that the total number of ecommerce web applications across the world lies between 2-3 million. There is no wonder of such a huge number, as more and more consumers are getting used to buying online. Also, starting an ecommerce business doesn’t require such a huge investment, unlike the traditional brick-and-mortar stores.
There is a wide range of platforms available to create an online ecommerce store, one such platform is OpenCart. OpenCart is one of the most opted ecommerce platforms to create a fully-featured ecommerce store without spending a lot of time. You can use this platform to develop an ecommerce store similar to Amazon or Flipkart. It is a very simple solution in which you have to just download, install, and choose your shopping template, and add a few products, your site is ready to accept the orders online.
There are numerous extensions available such as order management, integrating multiple payment gateways, etc. which can enhance the feature & functionality of your store. It is also search engine friendly so your site will not only be developed quickly but it would be easily discoverable to attract traffic and generate sales.
There are more than 14,000 extensions available for OpenCart that you can integrate into your ecommerce store. It also supports multi-store development and multi-lingual stores to reach the international market for your business. Industry verticals by which OpenCart is being used are Computer Electronics & Technology, Ecommerce & Shopping, Vehicles, Lifestyle, and others. Some of the top websites using OpenCart are Pak fashion store, Cellspare, trailer jacks, Maps of India, etc.
Benefits of Using OpenCart for your eCommerce store
1. Easy to launch, Fast & Free of Cost
If you compare other ecommerce platforms available in the market such as Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce, Prestashop, and others then you will realize that OpenCart is much more affordable than those platforms. This platform is free to use as it is completely open-source and its extensions are not as such expensive. It is easy to launch an ecommerce site, you just have to do some simple steps. Add products, choose a template, and the site would be ready to accept orders from customers, and make sales.
2. Extensive Modules & Extensions
As mentioned earlier, there are more than 14,000 add-on extensions are available for your OpenCart ecommerce store. These extensions are capable of improving the features & functionalities of your store. It is a module-based CMS on which you can modify features such as category, bestsellers, manufacturers, Google Analytics, and more pages.
3. Interactive Admin UI
If the ecommerce site owner is not tech-savvy then it may be a big hassle for him to maintain his ecommerce store, and admin mostly requires technical skills. However, this is not a case with OpenCart admin. In this, you get a very easy dashboard to manage a small or medium-scale enterprise. You can easily add products, their images, set up categories, meta tags, meta descriptions, configure shopping options. You can implement popular payment methods without any issue.
4. Multi-language Support
If you wish that your business cross international borders, you need to provide content of your site in the regional language. OpenCart comes with 17 international languages. Whether it is backend or frontend, you can use any of the 17 languages to convert your international customers. For a cost-effective startup business, OpenCart’s multi-language facility is a bonus and a great opportunity to go beyond the international borders.
5. Sales Reporting
It is important to have a complete track of sales & profit in any business. With the OpenCart sales reporting system, you can manage sales, expenses, orders, customers, etc. There are 3 most important features of it:
- Reporting sales occurring each day, week, or month.
- Product view reports checking the product performance on your ecommerce store. You can find which product was most viewed.
- The product purchase report shows the sales report for the products.
6. SEO Friendly
You can’t generate sales if there isn’t traffic on your ecommerce store. And to generate traffic on your ecommerce store, the site should be SEO friendly. SEO is highly important to get your site on SERPs. To provide the website owners with a search engine friendly environment, OpenCart web applications are already optimized for SEO standards.
7. Payment Gateways
Payment is the most important step in the shopping mechanism. It should be secure as well as user-friendly so the customers don’t have any trouble while making payment on your store. OpenCart comes with 20 different payment gateways that make this possible. You have the option to implement popular payment gateways such as Amazon Payment, Paypal, Stripe, and others.
8. VQMOD and OCMOD
vQMOD is developed by Google which is used by OpenCart. It helps in editing files in the core of the platform. In vQmod, specific files store instructions for changes that are carried out inside the core. VQmod creates a virtual copy of the original file overwritten on the PHP file.
How to develop an OpenCart eCommerce store?
Finally, after knowing so much about OpenCart we will be knowing how to develop an OpenCart store. Let’s know first the prerequisites of using Opencart:
- Web Server (Apache HTTP server is best)
- PHP version 5.2 or any other better version
- Database (MySQL is preferred).
You also need to install these extensions on your system to install OpenCart on your webserver:
- GD Library
After installing these extensions, we will install OpenCart.
Firstly, visit the official OpenCart download page and download the latest version of OpenCart. You will get a zip file, upload it to the root of your server and extract it there.
Rename these two files: config-dist.php to config.php & Upload/admin/config-dist.php to Upload/admin/config.php. These files can be found in the Upload directory. Thereafter, move these files & folders to the root of the server.
Now open your web browser, visit the store’s homepage and follow these steps to install OpenCart:
1st Step: Accept the License Agreement by clicking on the Continue button.
2nd Step: OpenCart will check the requirements of your hosting environment. If you find anything in red, check that error and find a solution to it. Click on the Green button if everything becomes green.
3rd Step: You will land up to the configuration page where you have to provide the credentials of your database. You can get these credentials by your hosting provider. Click on Continue after filling up all the details.
4th Step: You’re done. Before going further, note that there’s a warning that recommends deleting the installation directory placed on the root of your server. Once removed, you are ready to continue either to your storefront or the admin panel.
Admin Panel Configuration
Let’s know how you can configure your admin panel of OpenCart. Open the www.yourdomain.com/admin and log in with the admin credentials. After Login, you will land up on the dashboard of your admin where you can get an overview of orders, sales, customers, etc.
Here are some configurations you can do:
Go to the System > Settings and click on the Edit button for changing the information of your store. There are several tables:
1. Store Tab: You can change store name, address, other information.
2. Local Tab: Here you can opt for the language, country, state, currency, etc.
3. Image Tab: As the name implies, here you can change the image and favicon of the store
4. Server Tab: In OpenCart, you can also manage some of the server settings by admin panel. The server tab allows you to set security, uploads, and error handling. Also, you can enable the SEO friendly URLs under this tab.
Categories & Products
Within a few clicks, you can also add products and their categories on your OpenCart store. Check Catalog > Categories and click on the Add New button. You will find 4 tabs here:
1. General tab: Here you can enter the name of the category, its description, and other data.
2. Data tab: Here you can choose parent category, filters, add category image, and a mark to display that category in the filters.
The other two tabs are SEO and Design.
For adding products, navigate to Catalog > Products and then tap on the Add New button. You will find 9 tabs in the Product section: General, Data, Links, Attribute, Option, Recurring, Discount, Special, Image.
However, as this is a beginner’s guide, we would be focusing on only essential 3 tabs.
1. General Tab: In this tab, you can input product name, its description, meta tag title, description, keywords, etc.
2. Data Tab: Here you can add product information, such as Model, SKU, Location, Price, Quantity, Status, and product codes like UPC, JAN, ISBN, etc.
3. Links Tab: Here you can mention product manufacturer, categories, filters, related products, etc.
After reading this article, you must have understood the benefits of using OpenCart and how to install it. However, to highly customize an ecommerce store and to implement advanced features & functionalities you must hire an ecommerce development company like Emizentech. We will understand your requirements precisely and create an ecommerce store that suits your needs.