OpenCart is one of the most popular open-source ecommerce platforms for quite a few reasons: It’s easy to set up, user-friendly, and highly extensible, and it allows for unlimited categories and product listings.
Previously we reviewed OpenCart and five other top ecommerce platforms to compare features, pricing, hosting, and support. If you have opted for an OpenCart solution or are considering an OpenCart site, your first question is likely how much development support you’ll need, either to get you up and running or to level up your existing installation.
Here are a few improvements and customizations you can make with the help of an OpenCart developer.
Some OpenCart Programming Basics
OpenCart is ideal for small and midsize merchants in particular, mostly because it is quick to set up and has a simple, intuitive interface. It is lightweight but has excellent functionality. From a programming standpoint, there’s not a lot of integration required on the back end for a simple setup—just some configuration if you’re hosting your shop on your own server.
The more customizations you need, however, the more you’re going to want a developer’s help.
Let’s quickly review some OpenCart specs:
It’s easy to set up compared with a solution like Magento, which requires more development support. With OpenCart you can get set up, load products, and be ready to start accepting orders in no time.
It’s built using an MVC architecture with PHP, a widely known language, so it’s easy for developers to work within. OpenCart supports the latest version of the LAMP stack (PHP 7.2 or MySQL server 8.x).
It allows for your choice of database driver. You can opt for MySQL or SQLite, or you can have an OpenCart developer create something special for you.
It easily supports more than 100,000 products by using Memcache(d) or Redis.
It offers multilanguage, right-to-left (RTL), and left-to-right (LTR) support.
Its multistore functionality allows you to manage multiple stores from one admin interface.
Its built-in features include 36 payment integration options and the most shipping options available.
More than 15,000 module-based extensions can be installed without any technical knowledge with the Extension Installer, such as SEO extensions and payment gateways (e.g., PayPal, Amazon). Beginning with OpenCart 3.x, there’s support for one-click, easy-to-add modules from the marketplace.
OpenCart’s extensions (and its vast community ready to help you through any hiccups) are at the heart of what makes it so turnkey and user-friendly, but it’s not a bad idea to err on the side of caution. For certain customizations and third-party integrations, you’ll want the help of an OpenCart developer, and even simple setups can be daunting to those who aren’t technically inclined.
Here are 11 ways an OpenCart specialist can help improve your online store.
1. Customize your Store Design
OpenCart’s themes are designed to be beautiful and functional out of the box, but much like WordPress themes, there are usually little aspects you’ll want to tweak to make a theme more your own. If you want to forgo a theme and make edits to a default store design, an OpenCart developer can directly access a theme’s source files.
2. Move to OpenCart Cloud
“PayPal powered by Braintree and OpenCart Cloud together gives you a powerful cloud-based ecommerce solution that is as simple as it is scalable. PayPal powered by Braintree could help you to boost sales conversion and simplify PCI compliance.”—OpenCart
OpenCart Cloud is hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) servers, integrated with PayPal powered by Braintree.
3. Create custom product pages
If you have a certain layout for your store’s product pages in mind, a developer can modify your product.tpl files to create custom layouts for certain types of products.
4. Add responsive navigation
5. Add animations
6. Create and customize sliding banners to promote items and sales
Banners are like any other website slider and allow you to highlight items or pages and link directly to them from your homepage. You can create different banners for different modules, such as category pages.
7. Develop a custom module
Adding modules to OpenCart installations allows you to extend functionality without going into the application files and doing a lot of editing. The more you require from your OpenCart store over time, the more modules you may need—for example, abandoned-cart modules or SMS modules. You have 15,000 to choose from, but if you need a custom module for a functionality, you’ll want a developer who understands OpenCart’s MVC architecture to create it for you.
8. Create a native Android or iOS app from your OpenCart site
By using the integrated OpenCart API, a developer can help create a native app version of your OpenCart site that syncs up a catalog of products and categories from your site to a mobile app that’s fast and convenient for customers. Add in features such as push notifications to boost engagement.
9. Maximize SEO of your multistore mode with subfolders (not subdomains).
Multistore is an awesome way to manage multiple online stores from the same dashboard—even cloning certain shops and products and offering them in different languages and locations with per-store pricing, extensions, banners, and order flow. However, from an SEO standpoint it can difficult to increase the rank of subdomains because they’re treated as separate websites, even if they have one shared parent host. To solve this issue, a developer can create a subfolder model of your multistore. Check out this tutorial for Creating an OpenCart Multi-Store Sub-Folder.
10. Fix bugs or errors with patches.
Even the most turnkey CMS installation is going to run into an error or two (or more). OpenCart is no different, and if you’ve got a bug that’s hurting sales, you’ll want to address it as soon as possible.
11. Increase your store’s performance and speed.
Clients and search engines love fast websites. If your online store based on OpenCart is not one of them, which you can determine with a speed test, you’ll want a skilled developer to make the upgrades that will improve your site’s performance.
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