If you are looking for reliable free eCommerce platform, you definitely come across the name OpenCart. OpenCart is quite popular free, opensource eCommerce platform that combines flexibility, simplicity, and multi-functionality. The same as WooCommerce, It is ideal for all kind of small and media size internet shops.
So, without further ado, let’s go through, how to set up OpenCart store fast.
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What is OpenCart
OpenCart was introduced into the market back in 2008. Since then its developers’ team has been seeking to simplify store management for all types of online businesses- beginners, small businesses, medium-sized stores, and large enterprises.
This eCommerce platform is not only simple to use, it also comes with wide range of customization options. Users can further customize your store by using extensions. Extensions are add-on programs that provide extra functionality to OpenCart webstore similar like addons in WordPress.
- Easy-to-use interface
- The ability to create and manage unlimited products, both physical and virtual
- Abundance of payment and delivery options
- Personalization and extra features through free and paid plugins
- A way to manage several stores from the same backend
- Multi-currency and multi-language options
- Detailed SEO options and responsiveness out of the box
- A wide range of marketing tools
Requirements for OpenCart platform
OpenCart can run on any ecommerce hosting environment with PHP 5.4 or above, MySQL database, minimum 500MB of free space (store size is dependent on the number of categories, products, and images) and Apache Server mod_rewrite module.
OpenCart also requires few PHP libraries/modules including Curl, ZIP, Zlib, GD Library, Mcrypt, Mbstrings, and XML. It is recommended that the above system requirements should always be available at your hosting provider. During the installation process, OpenCart will check for all of these requirements.
Hosting for OpenCart
OpenCart the same as WordPress is self-hosted platform. It means, you install it on your own server and take full care about hosting, maintenance, management, and security yourself. This is in contrast to SaaS (software as a service) solutions, such as Shopify, which provides much of it as part of its service, but also offers less flexibility and control.
So, before to set up an OpenCart store, you need to have a hosting provider. Remember, with OpenCart you will need an SSL certificate so make sure that your chosen web hosting provider has one.
Hostgator is one of the most popular web hosting providers among OpenCart shop owners. Their basic plan starts from $2.75/month and it offers free SSL certificate, easy WordPress installs, and a free domain for a year.
For purposes of this tutorial I am using web hosting from smaller, cheaper but reliable European company Area.lv.
They’ve been around a long time, offer great hosting at a great price, and have a great reputation for supporting their customers. They have a 99.9% uptime guarantee along with 24/7 support whenever you need help. Among other, the offer free SSL certificate, free daily back up service, user friendly control panel – cPanel and 1-click OpenCart installation. And last but not least, Area.lv hosting pricing starts from 1.13$ USD (1.00€ EUR) a month.
How to set up OpenCart with “One click” installation
Most hosting providers offers easy one click OpenCart installation. This is definitely the easiest way How To Set Up OpenCart Store Fast. To do that, log in on to your hosting account cPanel and search for application installer.
If you are using Area.lv, into cPanel, scroll down and look for section called “Softaculos Apps Installer”.
Click on OpenCart icon, this will lead you to next OpenCart installation page.
Click “Install Now” Button, on next page you will have to choose OpenCart version and installation URL. I recommend always choose the latest OpenCart version. Currently it is 184.108.40.206.
Scroll down, next you will be promoted to enter some store details, such as store name and description, physical address and company name. You can change this information later.
After, you can set up your admin name, password and email.
Finally, set up admin language.
When it is done click “Install” button and installation will begin.
Usually installation takes 3-4 minutes. When it is done you should be able to see OpenCart front store if you type your domain name into browser.
OpenCart manual installation
If the hosting provider of your chose does not provide on click installation, you can always install OpenCart manually. This is also straight forward process.
Preparation for OpenCart installation
First you have to create a database where you will store the files of your open card site. To do that, log on to your cPanel, go to databases section and enter in MySQL databases.
Give your new database a name and hit the create database button. Now it will show up in your database list.
The next step is to create a user and assign it to the database, so you have control over it. Scroll down to “MySQL Users. Add New User” and create new user. Make sure to save username and password, because you will need it later.
Finally, scroll down to the section Add user to database. Select database and user.
Now hit the Add button and then assign all the privileges for the database to your user.
When it’s done, click “Make Changes”button. Now you are ready to move to step 2.
Go to opencart.com and click on the free download button.
Next, click the download now and get the latest version of the platform. Now the OpenCart files are on your computer.
OpenCart upload to hosting server
Go back to cPanel and find the file manager app.
Click on it and you will get access to all the files on your server the folder you need is public_HTML.
Open public_HTML folder and inside it create a new folder. Name it “opencart”.
Open this newly created folder and while you’re there click the upload button.
Find the open card zip you just downloaded.
Once it’s uploaded select zip and click the extract button.
This will unzip all the files inside in your folder. You will see a lot of files and will just delete them and leave the folder called upload.
Open it and remove the dot txt part from htaccess file. Then rename the file config-dist.php to config.php. Do the same with the config file located in admin folder – admin/config-dist.php to admin/config.php.
Lastly, move all files and folders from Upload directory to the root of your server, it means to public_HTML directory. When it is done, delate upload folder.
Now when you enter the domain of your store in your web browser it will be looking for the files directly in public_HTML folder.
First step here is the License Agreement. When you’re ready, click continue.
The second step is checking if all the server settings are ok.
If everything’s in the green you’re good to go. Click continue. The third step is to configure your database details.
The most important things here are the username you have set for the database user your password and the name of your database. Finally, you will have to configure your admin username and password for the open card store. Once you’re done with that, click continue to finish the process.
That’s it. Your new open card store is installed. Now you can log-in to your administration with the credentials you just created in the last installation step. It is achievable directly from installation page or you can go – www.yourdomain.com/admin.
After login, you will see a pop-up asking you to move your storage directory outside of your web directory for security reasons.
Just click “move” button and it will be automatically moved.
Finally, go back to the cPanel / File manager and delete install folder from the store files.
This is also a security measure which was suggested by the warning notification after you installed your store. Once you do this, you’re all set to start setting up your store fill it with products and start customizing it to your liking. That’s it, now you have learned How To Set Up OpenCart Store Fast.
OpenCart Store Examples That Will Inspire You
According to Built With trends list, currently 928,148 websites using are OpenCart. Here is list of 10 excellent OpenCart shop examples. May be in the process of creation of your own OpenCart shop, you can draw inspiration from these examples.
OpenCart was built to make life easier for merchants and customers to interact. Based in an Open Source environment, this shopping cart solution gives you to ability to have your business be search engine friendly with a user interface that is welcoming and inviting.
If you’re an online retailer, you’ll likely need shopping functionality on your website, and OpenCart is one option to help you and your customers complete the shopping tasks easily.