Looking for ecommerce software? Here's how OpenCart and eBay 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.
3.5 Stackupp rating
Best forretailers that intend to sell mainly through eBay or want to expand their existing market.
Can't decide between OpenCart and eBay?
Find the best platform for you with our side by side comparison of OpenCart and eBay. 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.
As an ecommerce retailer, you’ve likely already heard of eBay. Most people know it as the web’s leading auction site. But eBay also offers a suite of tools for businesses. Retailers can use the eBay ecommerce platform either as their sole store or in conjunction with their self-hosted website.
Tools for businesses include the “Selling Manager”, of which there is both a free and a paid version; “File Manager”, for high-volume sellers; “eBay shops”, which enable you to build your own dedicated storefront; and a large library of integrations and third-party tools.
Consider using eBay if you want to leverage the marketplace’s existing audience, or if you’re looking for a straightforward solution that doesn’t come with the hassle of building a store from scratch.
you want to take advantage of eBay’s large marketplace, want to grow your sales by establishing a presence on eBay in conjunction with your existing ecommerce store.
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 eBay 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.
eBay is very easy to use. Sellers without any technical knowledge or limited experience navigating an ecommerce dashboard will find it particularly appealing.
The business tools, like Selling Manager Pro and File Exchange, are intuitive and straightforward and come with extensive documentation. If you’re comfortable with the normal eBay dashboard, then you won’t have a problem adapting to the more advanced features.
"It was through eBay that we were able to realise the potential we had."
"It was so incredible getting my first sale within 24 hours. We were literally jumping with joy."
“Selling Manager Pro suits me fine with only around 130 items per month going out.”
Powerful features are great, but we all know first impressions count. So, do OpenCart and eBay 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.
eBay doesn’t offer much in the way of design flexibility. Shops and listings follow a standard template. In terms of the storefront, users can modify the logo, banner image, and description. It’s also possible to alter the navigation section on the left side of the store by creating various categories and subcategories.
In regards to the listings, sellers have control over the title, variation options (colour, size, model, etc.), and initial description.
The central overview area can also be used to add further product information and extra pictures.
If you’re looking for a high level of design freedom, then it’s probably fair to say that eBay isn’t the solution for you. If, on the other hand, you’re happy to work within the constraints of eBay’s storefront, then there won’t be any issues.
Everyone’s favourite topic - pricing. Let's dive in to see if OpenCart or eBay 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.
Depending on the specifics of your situation, including your volume of sales, the size of your existing market, and your return-on-investment from advertising, eBay may fall at either end of the spectrum when it comes to value from money, from absolutely excellent to jaw-droppingly terrible.
The business tools themselves aren’t particularly expensive - Selling Manager Pro will set you back by $15.99/month and a “Premium Store”, which allows for 1000 free fixed-price listings per month, will cost you $59.95/month. Compared to most ecommerce platforms, those fees are very good.
The main costs, however, lie in the “final value fee”. Whenever you make a sale, eBay will take around 10% of the sale amount (which includes the payment processing fee).
For smaller businesses, the total fee amount per month will likely be lower than what you would pay if you opted for your own store with a platform like Shopify or BigCommerce. For high-volume retailers catering to a market outside of eBay, however, final value fees will likely represent significant and unnecessary losses.
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 eBay'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.
eBay’s help and support package varies depending on which type of plan you purchase. Higher-level subscription options come with “eBay Concierge”, in which users have access to additional support options compared to the basic package. Basic customer support is mainly provided through email and live chat.
“Concierge” includes lower wait times, access to highly-trained members of the support team, and sales and marketing training. You’ll also receive extra assistance with negative reviews and listings that don’t meet eBay criteria.
Generally speaking, we’ve found eBay response times and the quality of customer support to be very good. Sellers also have access to extensive documentation and training materials.
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.
Consider using eBay as your primary ecommerce platform if you want access to the marketplace’s large customer base or if you’re looking for a streamlined, easy-to-use solution that doesn’t come with many of the hassles of running your own independent store. It has a wide selection of seller tools, solid customer support, and won’t break the bank.
Many well-known brands, like Adidas and Dell, also run eBay shops alongside their main websites to reach new customers.
If, however, you want full control of your store and plan to market directly to customers, then you will likely need a more advanced solution like Shopify, WooCommerce or BigCommerce.
Overall, we found OpenCart to be the better ecommerce platform.
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