Magento vs. OpenCart

Looking for ecommerce software? Here's how Magento and OpenCart stack up.

Daniel Adams

Daniel Adams

Last updated 10o July 2020


Magento

3.8  Stackupp rating


Pricing from

$ 2200.00 / month

Free Plan?

Yes


Best for

Magento “Open Source” requires development knowledge and is suitable for large enterprises. “Magento Commerce”, a fully-hosted version of Magento Open Source, available on a range of plans, catering retailers from mom-and-pop stores to global enterprises.

OpenCart

4.0  Stackupp rating


Pricing from

N/A

Free Plan?

Yes


Best for

Opencart is ideal for small and medium-sized retailers that have web development experience.

Magento or OpenCart: Which is best?

Can't decide between Magento and OpenCart?

Find the best platform for you with our side by side comparison of Magento and OpenCart. See how each platform stacks up across ease of use, design, support and value for money.

Let the comparison begin. Don't worry, we'll guide you.

Is Magento right for you?

Magento is an open-source ecommerce platform owned by Adobe which is offered in a range of formats. The best-known option is a completely free, open-source version called “Magento Open Source”. Retailers that want to use the platform while taking advantage of cloud hosting, customer support, and additional functionality, can opt for one of the paid options under the “Magento Commerce” banner.

Because of its extensive feature-set, scalability, high customizability, and popularity among developers, Magento is particularly suitable for retailers running larger stores. Medium-sized retailers that need a comprehensive and feature-rich solution will also be drawn to Magento.

For smaller retailers without any development experience, however, a more user-friendly and streamlined solution will probably be preferable.

Advantages

  • Open source version is free.
  • Powerful, feature-rich solution that scales easily.
  • Completely customizable.

Drawbacks

  • Paid plans are expensive.
  • Open-source version will be virtually impossible to use for retailers without in-house coding expertise.
  • Extensions are expensive.

If you’re a large retailer that needs a customizable, powerful solution through which you can manage multiple sites in different countries. Remember to take care of hosting, security, and troubleshooting yourself if you opt for the open source version.

Is OpenCart right for you?

OpenCart occupies a unique space in the eCommerce platform market. It’s a free and open-source solution that’s ideal for small and medium retailers that want to exercise full development control on their own servers.

Immediately, this excludes two groups. First, small retailers that want a fully-hosted solution and don’t have coding skills will struggle with OpenCart. Secondly, larger stores, or stores expecting to scale, may find the feature-set somewhat limited. OpenCart doesn’t have the same functionality and scalability as other open-source platforms like Magento.

If you’re not in either group, however, OpenCart is well worth giving a go. As an open-source solution, it’s fully customizable. The feature set is pretty solid, and the interface is very intuitive for a self-hosted solution. You’ll also have access to a large user community and extensions library. Oh, and it’s probably worth mentioning the key selling point again: it’s free.

Advantages

  • The platform itself is free.
  • Open-source and fully editable for those with web development skills.
  • Intuitive and easy to use for a self-hosted platform.

Drawbacks

  • Costs for dedicated support and extensions can quickly add up.
  • Requires development and IT knowledge to be used effectively.
  • Few native marketing and SEO features.

Use OpenCart if you’re a small or medium-sized retailer looking for a self-hosted solution that isn’t going to break the bank. OpenCart is a streamlined platform with an intuitive dashboard, a solid feature-set, and a friendly, active community of users.

Ease of Use

Our first comparison criteria, ease of use. Why? Because it’s the most important.

Think about it. You don’t want to invest a lot of your precious time setting up an online store and tweaking the design only to find out that it’s a pain in the butt to manage day to day.

We take a look at how simple the Magento and OpenCart platforms are to run.

How easy is Magento to use?

Rated 3.5/5 for Ease of Use

While advanced development knowledge is required to run the open-source and paid enterprise version of Magento, the management dashboard itself is pretty intuitive. That said, Magento does have a very large feature-set, so there’s a learning curve for new users.

The small business version has a page-builder for ease-of-use and assistance is available for getting set up. Smaller retailers interested in Magento should try the free trial to see if it fits with their needs.

What Magento customers are saying...

"Powerful e-commerce platform - if you are willing to get your hands dirty.”
“It's a great and versatile eCommerce platform, which gives plenty of flexibility and has support for a vast amount of features and products.”
“I like the security features that Magento offers. It is one of the more secure options out there. The support community is very large so if you need help or have questions, you can usually find an answer quick.”

How easy is OpenCart to use?

Rated 4/5 for Ease of Use

There are two sides to the ease of use question when it comes to OpenCart.

On the one hand, users have access to an intuitive dashboard (which is slightly unusual for an open-source, self-hosted solution) and a large library of extensions.

On the other hand, installing, maintaining, and running a store built on OpenCart requires a certain degree of development experience.

If you’re not comfortable handling backend tasks, then it’s probably not the option for you.

What OpenCart customers are saying...

Very good. Takes a while to get it setup to your own taste/needs, but worth the effort. Loads of online help for the most common stumbling blocks.
Having tried numerous e-commerce platforms opencart is by far my favourite.
I love that you can easily buy modifications from the marketplace for niche use case scenarios, and if not there are developers that are very knowledgeable of the product so custom functionality isn't a problem.
OpenCart is our winner for ease of use

Design

Powerful features are great, but we all know first impressions count. So, do Magento and OpenCart templates actually look any good? See for yourself. We outline each platforms design options, plus showcase a few real life examples.

How good are Magento's themes?

Rated 4.5/5 for Design

Magento is arguably the most customizable ecommerce platform on the market. But there’s a big caveat. To make design changes to the open-source and enterprise solutions, development skills are a must.

Magento only comes with one built-in storefront theme but a range of third-party templates are available. The downside is that these can be very expensive.

Small and medium retailers that want access to a user-friendly site-builder and library of free templates will likely prefer solutions like Shopify, Squarespace, Weebly and Wix.

If, as a small retailer, you’re drawn to Magento because of its wide array of features, “implementation plans” are available.

Magento Examples

  • Kurt Geiger
    Kurt Geiger
Item 1 of 3

How good are OpenCart's themes?

Rated 4/5 for Design

OpenCart comes with a straightforward, minimal theme that’s already installed. Users that want to change the design have two options: buy a theme from the marketplace or edit the source code directly.

The themes in the marketplace are relatively well-priced - most cost around $20 - and this is a definite plus. There are lots of options on offer, tailored for a variety of online sectors, so you’re certain to find one that fits your needs.

OpenCart doesn’t provide a site-builder for users. If you’re not comfortable editing code directly, then you’ll struggle to make small design changes. Again, development experience is a must.

OpenCart Examples

  • Schtinky Dog
    Schtinky Dog
Item 1 of 3
Magento is our winner for design

How much do they cost?

Everyone’s favourite topic - pricing. Let's dive in to see if Magento or OpenCart offers better value for money.

How much does Magento cost?

Rated 3.5/5 for Pricing

It’s always difficult to fault a free solution. What’s more, Magento comes with an extensive feature-set that would cost a significant amount of money on a similar plan from another provider. Open-source features include support for multiple languages, promotional tools, content management, order and shipping processing, customer service, and more.

But there are a few important points to keep in mind. For larger enterprises, the cost of maintaining secure servers and the need for an in-house development team will be high. And extensions often cost hundreds of dollars. Pricing for fully-hosted Magento plans is not published. The enterprise-level options, however, are reported to cost tens of thousands of dollars every month. Small business plans are advertised as “affordable”.

How much does OpenCart cost?

Rated 4/5 for Pricing

It’s difficult to fault a free platform. So why only eight out of ten?

First, let’s take a look at the positive side of things. The OpenCart feature-set is superb for a free, open-source platform. Users can take advantage of unlimited products and categories, multilingual and multi-currency support, product reviews, a shipping calculator, analytics reports, and more.

Where OpenCart starts to flounder a little is in regards to extensions and support. Dedicated support is $99/month. And extensions which provide extra functionality, such as integrations with third-party platforms, regularly run into the hundreds of dollars. Finally, retailers will have to take care of all hosting and maintenance costs themselves.

OpenCart is our winner for cost

Help and Support

If things go wrong (and they often do) you need to know someone’s there to help get you back on track. So, how does Magento's and OpenCart's support measure up?

How good is Magento support?

Rated 3.5/5 for Help and Support

Technical support is limited on all plans on Magento. Users that have subscribed to a paid plan can submit support tickets. Additional support options - such as the “implementation package” for small businesses and “Magento Services” for enterprises - can be purchased for an additional cost.

If you decide to run Magento Open Source, you will need in-house IT support or an outsourced solution with an agency.

How good is OpenCart support?

Rated 4/5 for Help and Support

OpenCart support comes in three forms. Reviews of the quality of support are generally positive.

First, users have access to a free community forum. The forum is active and has over 110,000 members.

Second, a one-off paid option is available. For $99 you get a one-time technical fix with a 30-day bug-free guarantee.

Finally, a subscription option for $99/month provides you with a monthly maximum of five extension installations and three bug fixes.

OpenCart is our winner for support

The Bottom Line

The final say. Let's wrap up our thoughts on each platform.

Magento: Our Verdict

Magento has an exhaustive of features. Enterprise-level stores should definitely consider it as a solution. Medium-sized retailers will also find Magento to be an excellent choice that scales as their store grows. The virtually unlimited scope for customization is another big plus.

Retail companies that don’t want to take care of hosting in-house can also opt for one of Magento’s paid plans. Just keep in mind that development knowledge is a must and that the cost of extensions and additional support packages can quickly add up.

For smaller retailers, there is a plan that provides full access to Magento’s features at a lower price. A free trial is available and well worth checking out. Just remember that simpler entry-level solutions - which are easier to use for people without any coding skills or access to developers - may be more viable.

OpenCart: Our Verdict

We liked OpenCart. It’s a great free solution for retailers that want to manage backend tasks themselves. If you have a small or medium store, and don’t want to deal with the complexities of a platform like Magento or PrestaShop, then it’s well worth giving a go.

Where OpenCart stumbles a little is in regards to paid extensions and support. Add-ons often run into hundreds of dollars. And for the amount you pay for monthly support, you might as well opt for a fully-hosted plan like Shopify or BigCommerce that comes with support included.

Just remember, if you don’t have development and IT skills, you’ll likely struggle with OpenCart. If, on the other hand, you’re more of the DIY orientation, you’ll certainly value the intuitive dashboard and extensive, easy-to-use features.

Overall, we found OpenCart to be the better ecommerce platform.

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