OpenCart vs Shopify: Which is Better?

Choosing the right eCommerce platform for your business isn’t always a generalised decision, so this article will provide comparative knowledge of OpenCart vs Shopify and the various features of each of these platforms, in order to enable you to pick the most appropriate choice that fits the needs of your business.

Is OpenCart or Shopify Better?

OpenCart and Shopify are both eCommerce platforms that enable the purchase and selling of online products through entire store and inventory management.

OpenCart and Shopify have many similarities but the essential and probably major difference is that OpenCart is an open-source software option. It is generally suited for small or medium-sized businesses and is especially known for its highly customisable and comprehensive multi-store management system. Shopify, on the other hand, is a closed-source, hosted service that is efficient for all sizes and scales of businesses and has a user-friendly interface.


Shopify works on a regular subscription model, with users having the option of picking from the five pricing plans offered. Although quite cost-effective, there tend to be additional fees over the regular subscription such as obtaining a domain name and other transaction fees.

In comparison, OpenCart is definitely the more budget-friendly option as of course it is open-source and free to download and install. With OpenCart as well, there are added costs such as web design, hosting, obtaining a domain name and purchasing additional extensions. However, in spite of these additional costs, it often proves to be the cheaper alternative as there is no base price for the software itself.

Setting up the online store

Setting up your online store on OpenCart is fairly straightforward and carried out in four steps. The software must be downloaded and installed locally on your computer.

While the platform can be modified and refined by novices and programmers alike, the process of creating a store can be more cumbersome and could require more technical expertise. This is due to the considerably longer template installation process which is followed by each separate module installation. OpenCart does, however, provide comprehensive support guides with imagery for any information you might require.

Shopify, on the other hand, is often considered more approachable. The expertly-designed drag-and-drop editor proves to be the biggest advantage here, as it includes all the basic tools you would need to create a typical eCommerce store. This simple yet powerful feature ensures even a novice with limited expertise would require minimal to no support in setting up a store.


While Shopify might be an easier option when setting up your online store, it does not offer the dynamic customisation that OpenCart is essentially known for! OpenCart allows the complete adjustment of your store’s functionality and this in turn ensures the store is entirely unique. This would however require extensive coding knowledge and skills. To assist with this, OpenCart offers a range of extensions that can be easily embedded within your store.

As mentioned before, Shopify is a closed-source structure that does not have the same level of customisation. However, its drag-and-drop editor allows the editing of various aspects that can provide a fairly customised and unique eCommerce store. Additionally, Shopify does provide the code for the platform’s templates’ and if you’re able to work your programming skills, you should be able to avail a higher level of customisation on this platform as well.

That being said, the endless possibilities that OpenCart offers are truly unmatched with every single module being entirely customisable!

Design and themes

OpenCart has the same level of customisation through its design themes and templates, giving the option to make adjustments to every element of the design and aesthetic of your website. With over 1,600 templates to choose from OpenCart enables the expansion of your store and website capabilities. However, this would require a level of HTML, CSS or PHP coding skill.

Shopify, on the other hand, offers the ultimate user-friendly experience. Although the themes and the level of customisation are not quite on par with OpenCart, Shopify allows the simple yet effective customisation of colours, fonts and so on. Additionally, the themes offered are industry-specific, ensuring you can truly pick the one that complements your business with the most efficient features.

OpenCart and Shopify both perform equally in this aspect. While OpenCart offers complete customisation it does require a level of expertise and coding knowledge, Shopify provides flexibility through the ease of its theme editor but doesn’t have quite the same range of customisability.

Extensions and apps

Extensions are software modules that have additional features and tools. In the case of an eCommerce store, an extension would be a convenient method to achieve a specific result without personally having to put in a lot of programming work. So, when it comes to extensions, let’s look at OpenCart vs Shopify!

Shopify provides extensions through an app store that contains around 3,000 apps that can be integrated with other tools and can therefore fulfil specific purposes. The catch here is that simple and popular functionalities, such as the drag and drop page builder, are not included as built-in features but as add-ons or extensions that would cost additional money to install.

In comparison, OpenCart has a whopping 13,000 extensions. This, coupled with the fact that each of these extensions can be further customised, ensures an endless array of possibilities to support and develop the most efficient website for your business without the higher cost factor.

Store management and ease of use

Shopify allows the control of your store and website from anywhere, through not just the usual desktop app but also the added feature of a mobile app. Shopify employs a robust data syncing framework that ensures the entire ecosystem and all sales channels are completely coordinated. This includes the in-store POS as well as real-time order processing data and inventory.

Store management on OpenCart is done through plugins, which can be customised and integrated to suit your business. In addition, OpenCart offers real-time information about the entire sales process through a comprehensive dashboard facility.

Arguably though, the best feature is perhaps the fact that OpenCart allows for multi-store management. This means that if you have installed at least one store, you don’t have to repeat the installation process for other stores you would like to manage.


OpenCart has basic SEO features such as editing meta tags and 301 referrals. However, OpenCart doesn’t provide much additional support for SEO performance as this is not optimised by default during configuration and setup. The SEO capabilities you would require for your website would have to be manually fine-tuned.

However, OpenCart’s vast library of extensions allows for the installation of various plugins that would optimise and enhance your site's SEO performance.

In comparison, Shopify has the basic SEO features such as meta titles and meta descriptions and does all the technical heavy lifting while the site is being set up. It also has a self-arrange facility for the site's categories and this provides the ability to manually build a site structure that is efficient and easy to navigate.


OpenCart has a wide variety of payment options ranging from bank transfers to online payment gateways. The platform has 36 integrated payment methods such as Amazon Pay, PayPal etc. Additional payment methods can also be installed through OpenCart’s Marketplace.

Shopify offers over 100 integrated payment methods, as well as the impressive option of paying through alternative methods such as Cryptocurrency. However, each transaction that is processed incurs an additional transaction fee for the user.

The Final Verdict: OpenCart or Shopify?

OpenCart vs Shopify; which is the better choice? That ultimately boils down to the needs of your business and the objectives you need your store and website to fulfil. While Shopify offers a user-friendly interface with a decent amount of customisation, OpenCart offers a free platform with complete customisation that will require a certain level of programming knowledge! If you are still reviewing the various platforms available, then our article onMagento vs OpenCart offers some insight into another option you could consider.

When it comes to OpenCart vs Shopify, we love the creative and business freedom OpenCart offers our clients. At Welford, we’ve worked with various wonderful organisations on everything from web hosting to design and development, with our experts optimising and enhancing OpenCart to truly leverage the potential of these businesses. Please get in touch with our incredible team to make your online business goals a reality!

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