Building an online store may look like a complex work. There are tens or even hundreds of actively maintained e-commerce platforms and every one of them could look the best – depending on what you’re going to sell, and how much controls and customization options you want to have.
Similarities between WooCommerce and OpenCart
Both of these e-commerce platforms have much in common. For example – they are both self-hosted. So in order to use any of them you need some kind of hosting.
Both WooCommerce and OpenCart are open source and free. Both of them are built using PHP so they can be used on the same type of servers.
One more thing in common – they are both very well supported by payment processors, and loads of different shipping companies so you should not have any issues trying to integrate popular shipping or payment modules.
Differences between OpenCart and WooCommerce
Even though these e-commerce platforms have much in common, they are also much different.
Integration, SEO and other plugins
OpenCart is stand-alone e-commerce platform – you can create an e-shop and start selling just after installing main OpenCart files, without any third party tools or extensions.
WooCommerce, on the other hand, is different. It is a plugin (extension) for wildly popular WordPress content management system (CMS). So you need to use WordPress if you want to use WooCommerce. And that is good thing, and not so good at the same time.
WooCommerce can be integrated almost fluently to any type of WordPress website. So you can have a superb blog platform, company website and an e-commerce platform under the same umbrella – as one unit. WooCommerce and WordPress are incredibly flexible – you can build any type of store, use your blog for marketing, use the same SEO, caching, performace optimization modules, and it will all work as one system.
You cannot do the same with OpenCart. You need additional extensions for blog, these extensions may not integrate with SEO tools, themes and other additional modules smoothly. OpenCart is not as flexible as WooCommerce. With WordPress and WooCommerce you may build custom landing pages and integrate them with the store without any coding skills or need for a developer help, but it won’t be that easy to do with OpenCart.
Modifications and plugins
One more thing that may look better in WooCommerce – you may install huge amount of plugins for the platform, and the plugins won’t break your store or conflict with each other most of the time.
Lots of OpenCart extensions use OCMOD and VQMOD modification systems. Their work principle is basically “search and replace code”, so if multiple extensions replace the same code, there’s a big risk to break one of the extensions or worse – make the store crash. WordPress uses hooks – it’s a bit more complicated system, but there is much less risk of conflicts.
Product administration, options, variations and languages
So far you might think – why anyone would use OpenCart if WooCommerce is such a great e-commerce system. And there are reasons to use OpenCart – quite a lot of reasons.
OpenCart can handle hundreds of product categories, thousands of products with ease. It can cope with loads of products, their attributes, options, filters and their combinations much better, because it was built just for that out of the box. It has dedicated pages and tabs for setting all the product variations. WooCommerce has only the basic tools out of the box, so you need additional plugins to get similar functionality.
And that optional Wocommerce functionality comes with some serious troubles. For example – if you want some additional tool in OpenCart, you simply install additional extension (in other words, plugin). If you want the same function in WooCommerce, it means you need a plugin for a plugin (remember that WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin?). So most of WooCommerce plugins make the system more complicated, and it also makes it slower. It can be especially noticed in WordPress administration pages.
And it gets a lot worse if your store is multilingual. OpenCart by default can be multilingual – your store can have 2 or more languages without any additional extensions. WooCommerce and WordPress are not multilingual by default, so you need additional plugins for that. So WordPress plugin Woocommerce needs to be integrated with third party multilingual plugin, and all the other plugins need to be integrated with those too. Lets say that managing mutilingual WooCommerce store is slow and sluggish… at best. And no server optimizations will help you here – there’s just lots of complicated code there.
When you should use OpenCart, and when you’ll be better with WooCommerce
Now you know most of the similarities and differences between these two very popular self-hosted e-commerce platforms. But still – which one to choose?
When you should use WooCommerce
WooCommerce is great for integrating a tiny or small online store with a blog. For example, if you’re selling a book, online courses or a small number (variations) of hand-made products, WooCommerce is just an ideal platform.
WordPress will let you create impressive landing pages, write capturing stories in the blog, and the same platform with added WooCommerce can run your craft store.
It does not mean you cannot run a store with hundreds of products using WooCommerce. You technically can, but it won’t be the smartest solution – the same as you would like to use your minivan as a truck. It was not built for large and complicated loads from the start.
When you should use OpenCart
OpenCart is built especially for online shopping. If you want to build an e-store with hundreds or thousands of products, complicated options, attributes, filters and categories, OpenCart is a great platform.
It might not be that easy to integrate with a blog or create landing pages for products, but as a store administration tool it is just in another level – for it’s tools, speed and ease of use for administrators and managers.