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OpenCart was publicly released in 1999 to little fanfare. Due to their poor performance, the project was suspended for a time before officially being revived in 2009 on Google Code. OpenCart is one of the leading e-commerce platforms in China and continues to produce on a high level globally. In 2014, OpenCart saw another revamp of their interface which was accepted by sellers as an improvement. OpenCart is PHP based using a MySQL database and HTML.

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The Good

  • Set-up process
  • Free resources

Getting started with OpenCart is considered to be a smooth and easy process, especially for those with a basic knowledge of e-commerce and their functionality. Since there are no start-up costs or monthly package prices to consider, business owners can jump right into setting up their store without having to figure out the financial side of opening up their shopping cart.

Set-up Process

OpenCart breaks down the set-up process into a few different categories. Each OpenCart store is comprised of a Frontend and Admin Interface. The admin interface is where the real store set-up begins and each business owner much go through the following settings:

  • System settings - Under system settings, all general settings will be identified. This is where the business owner will set the store's name, owner, address, email and phone number for order invoices.
  • Store settings - This setting will also need to be manipulated in order to pop up in search engine results.
  • Local settings - The local settings will simply determine which country or countries the store will operate in.
  • Image settings - The image settings allows for some customization as logos and product images can be put into place.
  • Server settings - The server settings are comprised of SEO URLs and the display errors option settings.

Free Resources

For being a "free" service, OpenCart provides their users with a wide range of services and capabilities. These resources and tools include: open source, documentation, unlimited categories, unlimited products, unlimited manufacturers, templatable, multi-language, multi-currency, product reviews, product ratings, downloadable products, automatic image resizing, multiple tax rates, related products, unlimited information pages, shipping weight calculation, discount coupon system, search engine optimization, unlimited module instance system, back up and restore tools, PCI compliant, printable invoices, sales reports, and error logging.

The Bad

  • Extensions
  • Security
  • Outdated trends


OpenCart makes their money off of "extensions." These extensions allow users to customize and gear their shopping cart experience towards their prospective clientele. These extensions can come at a relatively high cost as business owners will need to purchase templates and other extensions individually.


Users have also been dissatisfied with the security provisions OpenCart has taken to protect the data exchanged using their platform. OpenCart has never clearly stated what provisions they plan on implementing to help combat this problem, so at this time, security remains to be an issue.

Outdated Trends

OpenCart continues to stick with old ways of conducting e-commerce trade rather than innovate or keep up with the industry trends. For instance, they still use MyISAM tables, coding practices that are considered to be well out-of-date, and their code quality is far from being competitive.

The Bottom Line

OpenCart is a large player on the international market and provides a way for store owners to get started without having to take on a financial burden. That being said, the reach and tools that come with an OpenCart platform are rather limited in comparison to other providers. There are ways to continue to build out a store, but it will come at a cost.

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