Have you ever felt excited about exploring new places full of possibilities? You will likely feel the same way if you decide to start your business online using new software you didn't know about before.
It's all about encouraging brave souls to try new things! And this is where the OpenCart comes in — a very simple and free solution to build an online store.
With over a decade of experience starting with OpenCart websites, our journey with the platform has been terrific and worth sharing our appreciation for.
In this blog, I will outline OpenCart's key features and capabilities. I aim to showcase the abilities of OpenCart as a platform for your online business and introduce you to Earth Girl Hosting as an optimized hosting solution for OpenCart.
What is OpenCart?
OpenCart is a simple and open-source e-commerce solution that enables you to effortlessly create and manage your online store. It offers a user-friendly and intuitive interface, making it accessible even to those without extensive technical knowledge.
As an e-commerce platform, the OpenCart provides a seamless user experience and boasts several advantages that make it an ideal choice for building online stores. Let's dive in!
A free and open-source platform
OpenCart stands out for being completely free and open-source, setting it apart from other platforms like Shopify.
A hosting service and a domain are the main things you need to pay for, and that's one of the services we offer at Earth Girl: highly optimized OpenCart hosting!
Of course, there are also paid OpenCart extensions and themes available to enhance the functionality or appearance of your store.
But what makes OpenCart truly remarkable is that it's an open-source platform that allows you to customize your store according to your preferences and requirements if you have coding skills.
Intuitive backend admin dashboard
I love the OpenCart dashboard for its easy-to-understand side panel, orderly arrangement of items, and intuitive informative analytics. The following image shows how the left-side panel provides everything you need at your fingertips without any complications.
The Catalog section allows you to manage your products, downloads, and subscription plans. Sales and orders can be tracked in the Sales section, while marketing campaigns, emails, and coupons can be accessed from the Marketing tab.
It's crystal clear where to add an extension, modify the front-end design, assign a name to your store, or provide backups without any additional explanation needed.
Multiple payment options
OpenCart supports over 40 payment gateways, including popular options like PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, Amazon Pay, Klarna, Skrill, 2Checkout, and many more.
This wide coverage means you can easily start accepting payments without much setup work. You can also install additional gateway extensions to expand your checkout options further.
Offering multiple payment options at checkout boosts your conversion rates, as customers appreciate the flexibility in payment methods. With OpenCart's extensive built-in gateway support, you can provide your buyers with convenient payment choices and benefit from increased customer satisfaction.
Built-in SEO functions
Achieving high rankings on search engine results pages has always been a goal for almost every website. This requires time and a focus on various aspects such as keyword research, on-page and off-page SEO, meta descriptions, URL structure, and content quality. But is there a helpful SEO tool available with OpenCart to assist us in achieving this goal?
That's exactly what I want to mention! Yes, OpenCart comes with built-in tools like the SEO URL function, options to add meta titles, meta tag descriptions, and meta tag keywords along with your content.
For instance, enabling the SEO URL feature will change the URL structures into an optimized format.
To enable the SEO URL function, simply navigate to your admin dashboard > System > Settings > Edit Icon > Server, toggle on the SEO URL function, and finally click on the Save button located on the upper-right side of the page. Important tip: Don't add any spaces before, within, and after a URL. Ensure all spaces between words are replaced by hyphens/dashes.
Additionally, you can explore the extensions available on the OpenCart marketplace, which can be helpful in improving your SEO.
However, it is essential to note that the speed of your OpenCart pages is also vital. Even a one-second increase in loading time can significantly increase the chance of a bounce and negatively impact your search engine ranking.
I recommend opting for an optimized OpenCart hosting service like Earth Girl, which is crucial in improving your SEO. In addition to hosting services, your choice of OpenCart theme also significantly impacts the loading time of your pages. You can find a list of recommended OpenCart themes here.
Mobile responsive layouts
According to a report by Statista, approximately 50% of all web traffic is generated via mobile devices. Additionally, Google's algorithm is designed to prioritize mobile-friendly websites in its search engine results.
Therefore, in today's mobile-centric world, it is crucial to ensure that your online store looks great and functions smoothly on mobile devices and tablets. Fortunately, OpenCart provides a variety of themes and designs that are automatically optimized for different user devices.
It might be worth considering Ronixa, a new OpenCart theme that offers a fully responsive mobile design, which could be of interest to you.
Helpful reporting and analytics
Running a successful online store goes beyond just setting up shop and showcasing your products. To thrive in the competitive e-commerce landscape, you need to gain insights into your website's performance, customer behavior, and sales data.
OpenCart offers an adequate analytics and reporting system that allows merchants to take data-driven decisions and optimize their online business with a minimum amount of effort.
OpenCart's dashboard displays total orders, sales, customers, and online visitors, allowing you to compare them to a similar period in the past. Moreover, you can quickly identify your top-selling locations with the country heat map feature. I was particularly captivated by the positive user feedback regarding this functionality.
In the beginning, we only sold in Canada. So, most of the world was empty. When we obtained all the legal paperwork to sell in the USA, it was quite fascinating to watch the USA turn darker and darker blue. Seeing progress and company growth made me happy. Just recently, we started selling worldwide, and blue is popping up everywhere. Very exciting!
Besides, OpenCart provides a sales analytic graph that displays the number of sales for each day, week, month, or year. For more detailed statistics and customer behavior tracking, refer to the Reporting section in the side panel.
If you operate multiple online shops for the same business, this feature is perfect for you!
OpenCart offers a prominent multi-store functionality, allowing you to manage multiple stores from a single installation. It requires you to create a subdomain in cPanel for each store.
The best part is that if you want different stores in various countries, you list your products once and select the store to display them. Each store can have other languages, pricing, currencies, and tax classes.
This enables easy management of orders and inventory, streamlining the process. Additionally, the one-time core installation saves disk space and reduces the cost of your OpenCart hosting services.
A decent discounting system
The coupon system in OpenCart offers simple and flexible settings.
Depending on your needs, you can name your coupon, assign it a unique code, and choose whether to generate a percentage or fixed amount coupon. When creating a coupon, you can set a minimum amount that must be met in the shopping cart for the voucher to be valid.
Free shipping coupons can also be created by enabling the option when creating a regular coupon. You can apply a coupon only to products, categories or your entire shopping cart.
It is also possible to set the duration of the coupon's validity, usage limits per customer, and the number of times a customer can use it.
To further customize coupons, you can download modules that add more features like what products or categories to exclude or include, which customer groups can use it, and more.
Large community and support
OpenCart is a large and active community that supports e-commerce businesses around the globe.
With over 471,000 online store owners using OpenCart, it has become a trusted platform in the industry.
The OpenCart marketplace offers more than 13,000 modules and themes, providing a wealth of resources to help you start and grow your business. Thanks to this supportive community and wide variety of resources, entrepreneurs have a great opportunity to succeed in the competitive world of e-commerce.
Optimized OpenCart hosting with Earth Girl Hosting
If you have decided to start your online shop using the OpenCart and are now looking to maximize the performance and success of your ecommerce store, Earth Girl Hosting is here to offer three tailored managed hosting plans specifically optimized for OpenCart: The Mercury Plan, The Venus Plan, and The Earth Plan.
With a strong emphasis on quality, reliability, and exceptional customer support, Earth Girl Hosting provides the ideal environment for your OpenCart-powered online business.
Meet our popular OpenCart hosting plan: The Venus Plan!
Here's a comparison table highlighting the key features of optimized OpenCart hosting plans at Earth Girl Hosting:
|Features||The Mercury Plan||The Venus Plan||The Earth Plan|
|Disk space||7 GB||14 GB||25 GB|
|Emails / hr||250||500||750|
|Free Domain (annual plan)||No||No||Yes|
See our hosting plans page for up-to-date specs and pricing.
The OpenCart offers numerous useful features that can help you build a successful online store.
There are several factors that make it a valuable choice for ecommerce stores. These include its user-friendly interface, customization options, extensive payment gateways, SEO-friendly features, mobile responsiveness, reporting and analytics capabilities, multi-store management, and flexible discounting systems.
In addition to the advantages mentioned above, OpenCart also provides a straightforward and hassle-free installation process, making it easy for users to set up their online store without much effort.
Our team is always available to assist you with any issues you may encounter during the installation or configuration of OpenCart on our hosting servers.