Looking for ecommerce software? Here's how OpenCart and Amazon FBA stack up.
Daniel Adams and Mark Hammersley
Last updated 2o July 2020
4.0 Stackupp rating
Best forOpencart is ideal for small and medium-sized retailers that have web development experience.
3.4 Stackupp rating
$ 0.99 / month
Best foronline sellers with limited product ranges. It is also a good option for retailers with established stores that want to take advantage of Amazon’s significant reach.
Can't decide between OpenCart and Amazon FBA?
Find the best platform for you with our side by side comparison of OpenCart and Amazon FBA. 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.
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.
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.
Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) is Amazon’s in-house fulfillment service for sellers. Instead of taking care of the storage and delivery of products themselves, sellers who opt for Amazon FBA can use Amazon’s warehouses and logistics networks. This can significantly reduce financial and administrative burdens.
It’s important to recognize that Amazon FBA is an additional service for Amazon sellers. It will only meet your needs if you already intend to sell products on Amazon. It is not a self-contained ecommerce solution that will allow you to list a wide array of different items and keep all the revenue from sales. What’s more, Amazon takes a significant cut of the final purchase price. You will also have to compete with other sellers in the marketplace.
With all that in mind, it’s essential to weigh up the benefits associated with access to the world’s single largest retail market with the cons of hefty fees, limited control, and high levels of competition.
Generally speaking, small retailers that don’t want to deal with the hassle of managing an entire ecommerce store (and all the technical, marketing, and logistical tasks this involves) will find a lot to like in Amazon FBA. Equally, retailers with established stores that want to bring their best products to a broader market should consider Amazon FBA.
Finally, keep in mind that running a successful business on Amazon FBA requires a unique skill-set. It’s a different ballgame to running a “traditional” ecommerce store, and this should be accounted for. You will need to familiarize yourself with topics like competitor research, keyword analysis, product page optimization, results page optimization, and so on.
you are a small independent retailer who doesn’t want to run their own store and handle complex back-end logistical tasks. Amazon will do a lot of the hard work for you while providing access to a large retail marketplace.
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 OpenCart and Amazon FBA platforms are to run.
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.
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.
Amazon FBA is managed through “Seller Central”, an online dashboard that all Amazon merchants use to manage their inventory, product listings, storefronts, and analytics.
The interface is very user-friendly, and you can add and configure products quickly. There is a substantial amount of help documentation online through the “Seller Central” portal and Amazon also offers an “Amazon Seller App” for mobile devices. All in all, it’s a very good option for beginners, along with retailers who have limited technical expertise.
Configuring fulfillment options is also a straightforward, linear process and is completed within the “Seller Central” area once products have been added to a catalog.
Finally, you can manage your own independent store, which will show all your Amazon listings, via the “Stores” tab.
"This website is good for beginners who want to earn."
"This platform is the most solid on the web to sell products online."
"They have never failed to pay me and they have been supportive when deviant customers have tried to steal from me."
Powerful features are great, but we all know first impressions count. So, do OpenCart and Amazon FBA templates actually look any good? See for yourself. We outline each platforms design options, plus showcase a few real life examples.
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.
Amazon doesn’t offer much in the way of design freedom. Sellers can only customize specific product page elements, such as the title and description, images, and in-depth “body copy”. The layout and overall page design cannot be altered.
Once they have registered their brand, sellers can also open their own Amazon storefront, which affords a greater (albeit still limited) level of design flexibility.
If you’re looking for complete control over your store, you will likely find that a self-managed ecommerce solution like Shopify or WooCommerce better fits your needs.
Everyone’s favourite topic - pricing. Let's dive in to see if OpenCart or Amazon FBA offers better value for money.
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.
“Value for money” is a slightly mixed bag when it comes to Amazon FBA. It’s important to stress that all serious Amazon FBA sellers will have to purchase a subscription to an Amazon Seller account. There are two plans available. The “Individual” plan is free, but a charge of $0.99 per item sold is collected. The “Professional” plan is $39.99 per month.
On the surface, these figures don’t seem significant. It’s when you get down to the nitty-gritty of item fees that a more precise picture starts to emerge. FBA sellers have to account for several charges: a referral fee (which can be up to 15% of the item sale price, a storage fee), storage costs, and a fulfillment fee. All of these can quickly add up, so it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the fine print and do all your calculations to ensure you can make a sustainable profit.
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 OpenCart's and Amazon FBA's support measure up?
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.
Amazon provides support to sellers through online tickets and has published extensive online documentation and training for new users. There is also an active community forum where it’s possible to get answers to questions.
While the support options are reasonable, we would like to have seen phone and email support in conjunction with the options already on offer.
The final say. Let's wrap up our thoughts on each platform.
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.
The FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon) program has done a lot to open up Amazon’s sizable marketplace to new sellers and streamline the often-complex process of storing items and fulfilling purchases.
If you are starting out in the ecommerce space, and find the prospect of running an independent store daunting, then Amazon is a viable option. Equally, if you already have an established online presence and want to reach new customers, selling your top-performing products through Amazon is also worth considering.
Just keep in mind that running a profitable Amazon FBA business is different from running your own online store. It requires a unique skill-set and the ability to evaluate competition and find gaps in the market.
Overall, we found OpenCart to be the better ecommerce platform.
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