Looking for ecommerce software? Here's how OpenCart and Etsy 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.
3.8 Stackupp rating
$ 10.00 / month
Best forsmall retailers that sell vintage items, handmade products, or craft supplies.
Can't decide between OpenCart and Etsy?
Find the best platform for you with our side by side comparison of OpenCart and Etsy. 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.
Etsy is a well-known marketplace and ecommerce platform for retailers that offer vintage items, handmade products, and craft supplies.
It’s a straightforward, cost-effective option for small businesses and individuals with an inventory that meets Etsy requirements. By running your store on Etsy, you’ll avoid many of the challenges that come hand-in-hand with larger solutions like Shopify and WooCommerce, while also gaining access to one of the world’s largest third-party marketplaces. You can upgrade to Etsy’s separate solution, called Patterns, which enables you to build your own store and sell whatever you like on it while still using the Etsy engine.
Retailers with diverse inventories and high product turnover, however, will almost certainly need a more feature-rich platform.
you’re a small independent retailer specializing in handmade or vintage items (or craft supplies). Etsy has a forever-free plan, along with an inexpensive premium option, so it’s an incredibly cost-effective solution.
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 Etsy 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.
You won’t find a platform that is easier to use than Etsy. This is partly due to the fact that there aren’t lots of complex features (which some might see as a downside) and partly due to the simple, intuitive design of the seller dashboard. Etsy makes essential tasks, like creating listings and generating reports, nearly effortless.
“Discovering Etsy and opening a shop enabled me to take control of sales.”
“Etsy has allowed me to build an international customer base that already appreciates handmade products.”
“Etsy has been an incredible experience for me.”
Powerful features are great, but we all know first impressions count. So, do OpenCart and Etsy 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.
Design flexibility and freedom isn’t one of Etsy’s strongest points. Most Etsy stores look very similar, and there’s a reason for this: Etsy only offers a limited number of customization options.
As a seller, you can change the colours, fonts, and photo styles in your store. You’ll also be able to upload a unique logo and banner - which has the option of a photo “carousel” - and set a homepage description.
Users of the Etsy Plus premium plan will have access to a handful of additional features, such as the option to highlight top-performing products on the homepage.
Customizing your store is a very fast and straightforward process. While design freedom is limited, this won’t be a problem for people with little development experience who already like the standard Etsy storefront.
Everyone’s favourite topic - pricing. Let's dive in to see if OpenCart or Etsy 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.
At first glance, Etsy looks like one of the most cost-effective ecommerce solutions on the market. It has a forever-free plan and even the premium option, Etsy Plus, only costs ten dollars per month. “Pattern by Etsy”, a service which allows you to run an “independent” online store on your own domain (in conjunction with your Etsy store) only costs $15 a month.
But it’s crucial to take account of fees. Retailers are charged $0.20 for every listing. When a sale is made, Etsy takes a 5% transaction fee, along with a 4% payment processing charge, which amounts to nearly 10% of the overall item price.
If you only process low sales volume, then these fees can be viable. With higher volumes, however, Etsy becomes less feasible.
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 Etsy'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.
Etsy has an excellent support package, even on its free plan. Along with one of the largest seller communities on the web and extensive and in-depth training materials, users can also take advantage of live-chat and phone service.
Inexperienced retailers, in particular, will find a lot to like in the comprehensive tutorials and “seller handbook”. The online forum, through which users can join “teams” to exchange ideas and collaborate, is an excellent learning tool.
All support options are accessible from a tab in the seller dashboard, so assistance is easy to find when you need it.
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.
Retailers considering Etsy should understand that it isn’t an ecommerce platform in the traditional sense. It’s not a standalone app like Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce. You should only consider it as an option if you’re planning to sell your products to the broader Etsy marketplace.
If you do fall into that category, however, then you’ll find a lot to like - it’s a streamlined, easy-to-use platform at a fantastic price.
Furthermore, Etsy “Pattern” enables retailers to have a store at their own domain that isn’t bound by typical Etsy restrictions but is still managed from the central store manager. If you think it might be for you, sign up for a free account and give it a whirl.
Overall, we found OpenCart to be the better ecommerce platform.
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