OpenCart vs Shopify (Apr 2021) – The Basics

How to Choose Between Shopify and Opencart

Building an online store has never been easier. These days, there are tons of tools to help you get started, including a wide range of ecommerce store building solutions and ecommerce platform options. However, it’s often difficult to figure out which service you should be using.

Do you need an online store solution that comes pre-built with payment gateways and templates, as well as various extra advanced elements like SEO functionality? Alternatively, are you looking for an open source ecommerce platform? Something you can build from scratch and customize, however you choose?


Shopify and OpenCart are two of the contenders that belong to these camps. Shopify is the all-in-one solution that comes with everything you need to launch your store in a pre-made kit. Shopify is one of the most popular ecommerce tools in the world, and it stands out among similar options like Magneto, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce.

OpenCart, on the other hand, is an open-source solution intended to help you build the functionality you need to sell from scratch.

OpenCart vs Shopify: Vendor Comparison

It’s difficult to compare something like Shopify and OpenCart like-for-like. That’s because they’re two very different solutions for online selling. Shopify intends to give business owners everything they need to start selling online immediately. All the template you need come as part of the pricing, and you can begin building your site and shopping cart with exceptional ease of use.

However, though Shopify has various customization options and plugins, it’s nowhere near as flexible as something like OpenCart, which is entirely open-source. The term open source, when referring to ecommerce solutions, usually applies to systems that give you the basic tools you need to open your store, then plenty of scope for changes through coding.

You will need some basic developer knowledge to build an ecommerce website with an opensource system. However, if you have that insight, then the flexibility could mean that your online busines stands out a lot more with something like OpenCart.

OpenCart gives you a pretty simple and immersive interface and admin panel to work with. This means that even if you only know the basics of coding, you should be able to get up to date quite quickly. You’ll need a PHP 5.4 hosting ecosystem or above to get stated, and around 500MB of free server space.

The good news for those looking for the best ecommerce solution, is that installing OpenCart doesn’t take very long. However, adjusting all of the elements of this solution to suit your needs might require more time than you’d spend on something like Shopify.

Shopify vs OpenCart: Pros and Cons

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to choosing the best ecommerce platform in most cases. Instead, the best thing you can do is look at your situation and choose the tool that’s most attuned to it. Shopify, for instance, is often a much easier to use solution for people who don’t have a huge degree of coding knowledge. The Shopify system also comes with a huge app market, where you can find dozens of ways to customize your store. However, Shopify requires an upfront-payment and transaction fees each month, while OpenCart does not.

Shopify Pros 👍

  • Excellent app store for extending functionality
  • Works well with a range of third-party tools
  • Lots of multi-channel selling opportunities
  • Various premium and free templates to choose from
  • User-friendly design with everything you need included
  • No demand for managing security and updates on your own
  • Support from a dedicated team of service agents
  • Suitable for beginners

Shopify Cons 👎

  • Transaction fees and monthly expenses to consider
  • Some apps and themes can be expensive
  • Extra add-ons can take a while to figure out
  • Limited CSS and HTML customization

OpenCart Pros 👍

  • Completely open source so you can edit however you choose
  • Supports multi store functionality
  • Search engine friendly with meta tag access
  • Pre-designed templates and themes, as well as around 6000 extensions
  • Supports various languages and currencies
  • Provides customization options for virtually everything
  • Free to download and use

OpenCart Cons 👎

  • More of a learning curve than Shopify
  • No direct customer support for bugs and issues
  • Requires a lot of add-ons and extra features

Shopify vs OpenCart: Pricing

There’s a lot more to successfully selling online, than picking the solution with the lowest price point. However, it’s worth remembering that you’re going to have to keep budget in mind when you’re choosing the tool that’s right for you. The good news is that both OpenCart and Shopify can be pretty affordable, depending on your needs.

Shopify Pricing

shopify pricing - opencart vs shopify

Starting with Shopify, business owners can add a button to an existing website or page with the Shopify Lite package for as little as $9 per month, but this won’t give you any advanced features.

The Basic Shopify Plan starts at $29 per month.

Other options include:

  • Shopify: $79 per month
  • Advanced Shopify: $299 per month
  • Shopify Plus: Custom pricing

Notably, Shopify Plus is specifically designed for enterprise companies, so expect it to be quite pricey, most experts say that it costs around $2000 per month.

The good news is that Shopify will give you a discount on any option you choose if you’re happy to pay annually, instead of waiting to pay once a month. You can get about 10% off for an annual purchase. Additionally, there are occasional offers online that can help you to save some extra cash too.

OpenCart Pricing

So, how does OpenCart compare?

This is a bit of a difficult question depending on who you ask. OpenCart is technically free to download and use, but it doesn’t allow you to operate your platform completely free of any charges. You’ll be responsible for things like security and hosting, which means that there are costs to consider straight away. Additionally, you’ll need to spend a decent amount on extensions too.

The good news is that there are some demos online that allow you to see what the admin and storefront section look like without having to host your own solution. Extra expenses like domain names, hosting, security, and developer assistance can very quickly add up if you’re not careful.

Shopify vs. OpenCart: Features

Pricing is an important consideration for many business leaders, but it’s really only one part of the equation. You still need to ensure that you’re getting the features and functionality you need to achieve your goals. Fortunately, both OpenCart and Shopify are here to help.

Shopify Features

shopify homepage - opencart vs shopify

Shopify comes with virtually everything your company needs to start selling online, which is part of why it’s so appealing to many business owners. This is one of the most comprehensive tools on the market, and it caters to virtually all business sizes. You can even take payments from up to 70 providers overall and unlock a host of capabilities with apps and add-ons too.

There are some editing options that will give you access to the CSS and HTML elements of your website, and Shopify comes with premium and free templates to choose from too. There’s also a range of payment choices that you can accept, such as credit cards, PayPal, and support for global currencies. Shopify will even give you the tools you need to track how successful certain products are thanks to reporting and analytics tools.

To start selling, all you need to do is choose the theme or template from Shopify that you want to use. Other features include:

  • SSL certificate for security
  • Dropshipping fulfilment
  • Massive online app marketplace
  • Domain name access
  • Free and premium theme choices
  • Lots of payment options
  • Global currency support
  • Customer accounts and profiles
  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • Websites drag-and-drop building functionality
  • Product testimonials and reviews
  • Marketing and email templates
  • Blogging and SEO functionality
  • Inventory and product management
  • Social media integrations

Shopify is constantly evolving too, so there’s no limit to what you might be able to do with the solution in the future. You can access advanced reports right now or create applications for your website for your customers to use on their phone.

OpenCart Features

opencart homepage - opencart vs shopify

While it’s tough to list all of Shopify’s features at once, the same can’t exactly be said for OpenCart. This open source solution doesn’t come with everything you need to get you started, although you can build in the functionality you need. OpenCart allows you to list unlimited categories, products, subcategories, manufacturer, and brands on your store, and you can even showcase physical products alongside digital alternatives.

Although the admin portal comes set to English as standard, you can list products with prices in a range of currencies to support international customers. There’s also the option to include add-ons for extra languages and currencies too.

Multi-channel selling is available because you can own and operate various storefronts from the same admit panel. Additionally, there’s the option to integrate your store with various forms of shipping providers too. Other options include guest checkouts to reduce your abandoned cart issues, and registered user checkouts for customers that want accounts.

Recurring payments are available for subscription-based products, and you can set up reviews for your customers to enhance your business through social proof. OpenCart even gives you access to things like coupons and discounts. There are SEO tools to help you get your pages indexed, as well as reporting and analytics tools too.

Other features include:

  • Various add-ons and plugin integrations
  • Modules for your OpenCart integrations
  • Filters for refining customer search
  • Backup and restore tools
  • Integrations with multiple channels
  • SEO functionality and blogging
  • Social media and multi-channel integrations
  • Digital and physical products

Shopify vs OpenCart: Design and Customization

If you really want to be successful in today’s competitive world of ecommerce, you can’t just sell the cheapest products. Customers want brands that they can connect with, and to build a relationship with your clients, you need to make sure that your organization stands out from the crowd.

Shopify makes it pretty simple to adjust your website to suit your needs. There’s no drag-and-drop builder like you get with some other leading products but changing the way your website looks is very straightforward. You start with one of hundreds of professional-looking templates from Shopify, and you can add and remove elements however you choose.

To ensure that you can create the website that’s perfect for you, Shopify also includes instructions and guidance every step of the way. It can even help you with adjusting your website to make it more SEO friendly. Notably, the different themes available from Shopify are targeted at specific industries. Choosing the right theme for your company could mean that you end up with not just a better design, but more effective features too, like booking systems for restaurants, for instance.

While Shopify isn’t quite as flexible as some alternatives, it does make it relatively easy to ensure your site looks professional. Just be careful to get the choice of theme right straight away, as it’s tough to change this once everything is set up.

OpenCart offers exceptional customization options if you know what you’re doing with code. As an open-source solution, you have the freedom to make changes to the look and feel of your site to any extent that you choose. The trouble for most people is that making these changes isn’t as easy as it may seem. If you’re not familiar with something like Open Source Theme editor, then you’ll need to get a professional to help you out.

Fortunately, there are some resources online to help you out. You might be able to find themes that are already available to use on OpenCart forums, and there are a ton of people out there who specialize in creating stunning websites with this opensource platform. If you need help, you’ll have no problem tracking down a suitable developer or designer.

Additionally, OpenCart comes with the extra benefit of having over 13,000 extensions and add-ons, which you can easily embed into the functionality of your online store.

Shopify vs OpenCart: Sales Management

Shopify stands out as one of the most popular ecommerce tools in the world today for a variety of reasons. One of it’s most appealing features is the fact that you can access such a wide selection of capabilities from day one. Tracking sales in real-time is entirely possible thanks to a comprehensive back-end, plus you can access all of the integrations you can think of.

You don’t need to be a coding expert to excel with Shopify. Compared to other complex open-source solutions like Magento, Shopify makes your life easier by giving you access to everything you need straight away. In our comparison of OpenCart vs Shopify, this means that Shopify is the quickest to get started with.

Similar to many online ecommerce tools like WordPress, and Prestashop, Shopify allows you to integrate with social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to sell more online. You can connect with Amazon and eBay, and small businesses can also easily find a better position online with access to SEO and marketing tools.

The more you spend in terms of Shopify pricing, the more features you get, but common functionality includes access to more than 100 external payment processors, tax setting management, and the option to sell physical and digital goods. If you want to launch your ecommerce business with a dropshipping method, Shopify can help with that too.

Add-ons and integrations like Oberlo will handle your business requirements from a dropshipping inventory management perspective.

OpenCart isn’t a hosted solution like Shopify, so it doesn’t come with access to quite as much functionality straight out of the box. That doesn’t mean that you can’t run an effective ecommerce business without a hosted platform of course. If you know your way around coding, open source solutions like OpenCart and Magento 2 could be even more compelling.

You’ll still have the option to create your own integrations with marketing tools like MailChimp, and handle inventory management with add-ons too. You can implement a wide range of SaaS features from the admin dashboard, which is relatively simple and straight forward.

If you’ve ever used an open-source platform for store management and store customization before, then you’ll find OpenCart to be pretty par for the course. There aren’t a lot of extra features to get used to here, however, some of the functionality isn’t ass user-friendly as it could be.

Product information for your store is usually spread out over a range of tabs, but it’s not well organized, making it harder to find information like where you should include the list price of each of your products.

OpenCart gives you more access to alterations and customizations for your store and POS solutions, but there are still some limitations here. There are about 53 payment methods already built-in to choose from, and multiple payment gateways like Square, PayPal, Authorize.net, and so on. There are also more than 1 thousand additional payment gateways that you can access if you have the right developer knowledge to create your own integrations.

If you’re having trouble with any aspect of store management through OpenCart, you could always reach out to the community for pre-built integrations and tools that might make your life a bit simpler. Unfortunately, you’re not going to get the same out-of-the-box ease-of-use and access that you would get if you use Shopify.

Shopify vs OpenCart: Which One Should You Choose?

It’s always difficult to make a decision between two web development and store building products that don’t really compare like for like. For instance, while you can list unlimited products for sale online through both Shopify and OpenCart, the approach that you’ll take to building your store and your brand with each tool is very different.

Both of these solutions allow you to build an effective website for selling physical and digital products online. However, that’s basically where the similarities end. Shopify is a hosted service that gives you everything you need for your online business out of the box. If you need to add extra functionality like email marketing integrations, the process is as simple as clicking a button.

On the other hand, OpenCart is a completely open-source solution that you will need to host and develop yourself. The initial technology is free to use, but you do need to pay for things like hosting, your domain name, and even the extra support you might need from a developer.

Shopify is likely to be the better choice among business owners who want a quick and simple way to get started online without any learning curve. There’s tons of functionality to explore, and various ways to make your business stand out online.

On the other hand, if you want the freedom to make some pretty significant changes to your store on a deeper level, then OpenCart may be able to give you that. This open-source solution is free to use to begin with, and it’s packed full of functionality if you know how to take advantage of the open coding system.

Shopify vs OpenCart: Verdict

Comparing OpenCart and Shopify isn’t an apples-to-apples experience, they’re completely different tools for building your online store, although both will help you to make sales online and ensure that your company stands out. If you’re looking for an out-of-the-box service that comes with everything you need to get started online, then Shopify is one of the most popular options on the market. It’s brimming with payment processing options, ecommerce features, and inventory management tools that are perfect for new store owners.

If you want something more flexible and open, then OpenCart can give you the freedom to dive deep into the coding of your store. Just keep in mind that there are other open-source solutions out there that are a little more user-friendly than OpenCart. Although this product appeals to a lot of customers, it also has its limitations when it comes to flexibility and ease-of-use.

Good luck choosing the ecommerce system that’s right for you – and remember to test out the products before you buy them if you can!

Rebekah Carter

Rebekah Carter is an experienced content creator, news reporter, and blogger specializing in marketing, business development, and technology. Her expertise covers everything from artificial intelligence to email marketing software and extended reality devices. When she’s not writing, Rebekah spends most of her time reading, exploring the great outdoors, and gaming.