OpenCart vs Magento
Whether to go with Opencart or Magento is a common dilemma for many store owners. Both platforms offer a similar set of features, and are both optimised with the customer in mind. However, there are key differences between them, and it is these areas we will be focusing on here. In your journey to discover which product is right for you, we’ll help you make an informed decision.
OpenCart and Magento Overview
The first version of OpenCart. In its current guise (written on PHP) was released in 2009. Unlike Magento, the aim was to provide a simple platform for entry level users to quickly put their products online.
Released a year earlier in 2008, Magento was set up with a very different goal: to create a feature-rich, fully customisable platform for medium to large scale merchants to sell through. Now possessing around 30% of the ecommerce market, Magento has proved remarkably popular.
So, on the one hand, we have a platform built with beginners in mind, on the other, a platform designed for more advanced users. Going into more depth, we’ll look at what distinguishes these platforms — both within the admin panel, and from the user’s end. For now, however, let’s compare their core features side-by-side.
|Feature||Magento Commerce *||OpenCart|
|Easy to Use||No||Yes|
|Point of Sale Order Management||Yes||No|
|Learning Curve||Higher||Fast and Easy|
|Scope for Customisation||High||Average|
|Hosting||Cloud and self-hosting||Cloud and self-hosting|
|Ideal For||Mid and Enterprise Business||Small-to-Midsize Business|
*Formerly Magento Enterprise Edition.
Lets now look at some of these features in detail.
Magento and OpenCart: Platform Features Comparison
Search Engine Optimisation
Like Magento, OpenCart supports SEO for individual URLs, such as product, category, manufacturer and information pages. But where it comes to more in-depth optimisation, such as 301 referrals and rel canonical instructions, OpenCart lags behind.
For instance, by default, OpenCart comes with all SEO disabled, but even when enabled, SEO options are limited. In OpenCart there is no on-page SEO (e.g. microdata and product pages) which is essential for any ecommerce shop. In addition, there is no out-of-the-box option for changing default values, adding product prefixes, and also no automatic meta generation.
With Magento, on the other hand, many of these ‘custom features’ are included as standard. In addition, you can set meta-data, meta-titles, keywords, descriptions for products, categories and CMS pages. Many advanced SEO features are available too: you can initiate rich snippets, access the Schema.org template as a built-in feature and access canonical tags within layered navigation.
Checkout & Shopping Cart
Opencart, out of the box, comes with a rather labourious checkout procedure – a six step checkout process, to be precise. Technically, it is a one-page checkout, but in practice the user must follow multiple steps to make their purpose. And since Quick / One-Page checkouts are amongst the top selling extensions for OpenCart themes, there is much to suggest this is a feature many OpenCart users miss.
And for good reason: as every online retailer knows, creating a user friendly checkout is now essential. Customers who will quickly ‘checkout’ if the checkout process takes too long. Recognising this, Magento provides a smooth checkout flow as standard. Unlike in OpenCart, third-party plugins are not required to help plug in the gap. Out of the box, Magento provides both Guest Checkout and 2-step checkout.
In addition, the Magento 2 checkout page has now been reduced to 2-steps: Shipping and Payment. This means customers spend less time in the payment gateway; helping to maximise the conversion rate of your online store.
Marketing and Promotions
One of the standout features in Magento is its extensive marketing features. In Magento, you have the option to cross-sell, and up-sell offers, coupon deals and apply special offers; either to groups or individual users. Within your ecommerce store, you also have the option to apply offers for set periods of time — ideal for bank holidays or Christmas / new year promotions.
With OpenCart, many of the same campaign options are available, but their features are often severely reduced, so implementing them can be hard. For instance, while discount coupons can be created manually, they can’t be tied to campaigns or tracked. Additionally, there’s also no way to automatically create coupons based on customer performance. In practice, this means that when carts are abandoned, they’re gone forever.
Much of this comes down to a lack of internal integration. For instance, discount campaigns are managed separately from newsletter campaigns, product reviews aren’t tied to customer incentives and marketing tracking is carried out in a separate area of the software. Even improving the promotional options available by adding extensions, this is an underlying problem with OpenCart. Its core structure is not set up for integrated ease of use when it comes to using these features.
With Magento you get: varnish & full page cache, table performance & multiple database. Scalability is key here. The Magento platform features a layered architecture with four tiers that are optimised for performance and scalability. These are: the client, the page cache, the application, and the database tiers. With this segmented structure, different components of the architecture can be scaled independently in order to meet the varying needs of your setups and different loads on the system.
By contrast, while OpenCart has unlimited product listing (like Magento) the way its architecture is structures means, in practice, your site will be comparatively difficult to scale. Though not necessarily a memory hog, OpenCart suffers from poor SQL queries and lacks asset minification and compression. Performance wise, it could do a lot better. For creating stores which are either complex or are predicted to grow, Magento wins out here.
Magento takes security very seriously. It has a new Signifyd fraud protection tool to help solve issues quicker and easier. In addition, as well as new enhancements, it provides comprehensive password management, has measures in place to close cross-site scripting and local file inclusion, as well as a CAPTCHA feature to stop automated software from attempting fake logins.
In fairness, OpenCart is very secure too. Since the 1.4.7 build, there haven’t been any major security issues with OpenCart. The only difference between the two platforms here is the frequency of updates. Unlike OpenCart, where updates are rare, Magento releases security updates regularly, with the option to decide whether to update the entire system or site security alone.
A final thing to note for this section is hosting. Both Magento and OpenCart are self-host platforms, so unless you wish to host via the cloud (a service both companies provide), you will need to use a hosting service for your online business. If you are going to self-host you should be aware that, with either set-up, you will need to install regular security updates. Flexibility, in both cases, comes at the expense of time and effort.
While OpenCart is good for beginners, to do almost anything complex, you will have to add a lot of extensions. This not only takes time, but is likely to cost a lot of money. In Magento however, your Magento developer can set up a scalable, SEO-friendly, checkout-optimised store straight out of the box, with very few plugs-ins or extensions required. OpenCart might be sufficient for beginners, or those learning to code, but for mid-sized to large enterprises who depend on repeat custom and full scalability, we feel Magento is still the perfect ecommerce solution.
Want to find out more about Magento? Please see our Complete Magento Ecommerce Guide for more details.