Post by wafflemeister » Sun Jan 24, 2016 9:34 pm

I have been using Opencart for about 3 years now and it has done its job. However, every job can be done in a good and bad way. I just wanted to share my experience, as I think it would be helpful to other entrepreneurs in the longrun.

Opencart initially as a complete newbie to ecommerce seems to be one of the easier available options to install and use. Your shop can go online in a matter of hours, the admin panel is easy to use and understand, there are many nice templates and modules to use, there is a relatively active support community, etc. BUT...

My experience over time as my business started growing made me realize how limited the functionality of Opencart is. It lacks so many basic tools/utilities that should be integrated into any e-commerce solution by default. From shipping options, to payments, reports, newsletter functionality, abandoned carts, speed efficiency, SEO friendliness, discount/promotions, and the list just goes on. Although, many functions are available, they are available in the most basic and bare form. By no means are the default features viable for a complete and efficient e-commerce operation.

The solution to all these problems when using Opencart are the wide variety of extensions that are available to you. The list of extension is endless, some of them even free (although most decent ones that are supported are not). The extensions are great, but you will come to realize over time that you are spending quite a bit of money to build up a framework for Opencart that is typically by default in place with other open-source e-commerce solution. The matter of money put aside, there are more serious problems with these extensions...

Once you install and start using an extension you need to keep it up-to-date or it will break and cause errors. Opencart constantly comes out with new updates to its own ecommerce framework that have small improvements in them but which require most extension developers to regularly update their extensions as well in order to work with Opencarts framework update. Unfortunately, unless your extension is commercially very successful, most independent developers are quite sloppy about keeping their extensions updated. Even the ones that keep their extensions up-to-date most often than not don't test their updates clearly before releasing them, causing even further headache to you and damage to your site.
Not even do you have to deal with the regular updates of Opencart to their own framework, but the extension developers themselves may decide to update their own extensions independently of Opencart. These updates are typically due to changes in API feeds, bugs, etc. For example, a recent API feed update by the USPS caused one of my extension developers to release a faulty update that took down all JAVA functionality on my site, because it was not tested properly. The developer has since warned on not installing the updates and no further notice or update has been released since.
The problem becomes exponentially more difficult to deal with if you choose to have a custom theme. Many extensions are only capable of working with the default Opencart theme. Some developers choose to offer free theme customization to their customers, but many don't or at least unless you pay them. Once customized on your initial purchase, you will have to contact the developer on every Opencart and extension update to ask for a remake of the customization to make sure the extension still works with the update on your theme.

The problem boils down to not only you having to manage Opencart, but you essentially end up managing a series of modules. This is extremely time consuming and at times very frustrating as the updates often don't go as smooth as planned and disrupt your website and your business operations. All open-source platforms offer to a certain degree a set of extensions, but the problem with Opencart is that because its functionality by default is so minimal, you end up installing and managing way too many extensions.

Opencart has done it for me over the last 3 years, but I am ready to move on. It is a good product for a complete newbie to ecommerce to get started with, but if you are looking to build a complete and efficient e-commerce presence look elsewhere. Same goes with the mediocre web hosting solution of Arvixe that Opencart pushes.

I hope this is helpful to some. Good luck!

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Post by flanders » Mon Jan 25, 2016 12:04 am

I don't see an alternative free cms ecommerce !

Prestashop? ....with Smarty ...and expensive extensions!

Magento? Perhaps is the best, but it is very difficult to learn and set.....and expensive extensions!

Woocommerce? you try it with +1500/2000 products and many orders...it becomes very slow!

Others????

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Post by David.Feldman » Mon Jan 25, 2016 2:43 am

wafflemeister, sorry to hear about your experience, but it's actually quite different to compare OpenCart to other available tools in the same category without actually, well, comparing them. You may have found that some features are lacking or complicated in OpenCart, but unless you have experience with other tools, it may well be that you will find those even worse...

Could be that they're better also, but without spending a year with another cart, you're not really in a great position to compare them.

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Post by madimar » Mon Jan 25, 2016 2:39 pm

wafflemeister wrote: My experience over time as my business started growing made me realize how limited the functionality of Opencart is. It lacks so many basic tools/utilities that should be integrated into any e-commerce solution by default. From shipping options, to payments, reports, newsletter functionality, abandoned carts, speed efficiency, SEO friendliness, discount/promotions, and the list just goes on.
...
The extensions are great, but you will come to realize over time that you are spending quite a bit of money to build up a framework for Opencart that is typically by default in place with other open-source e-commerce solution
Dear man, I generally agree with all your remarks, but you don't tell us which ones are the alternatives according to your opinion...

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Post by Daniel » Mon Jan 25, 2016 11:43 pm

your actually showing your inexperience with running a web business!

I worked at one company that still used phpcart many years after the project ended. It was so customized that any upgrade would be impossible.

Do you think they should risk a business that makes millions every year just to try upgrading every new release!

use opencart as a base and keep fixing any bugs that come up in the error log. maybe have a web design company on hand that can fix the issues for you.

your only other option would be a hosted or cloud solution.

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Post by Dhaupin » Wed Jan 27, 2016 7:42 am

Although i def feel your frustrations from a biz owner, and that basic modern requirements are lacking from default core, i tend to agree with Daniel there. OC is kind of like a framework that is whiteboxed with enough base functionality to extend upon. Its not totally abstracted, therefore not necessarily an exact fit for a business with specific needs, even if it seems basic stuff is lacking, or if the current extension interopability state is a bit liable, but its a fine opensource app.

Admittedly albeit things lacking, and some chance of collision, the mods that do fix things are starting to fill in....and they are wayyyy cheaper than most other ecoms. Slowly but surely OC and its extension ecosystem will stabilize and rise even higher. But not for the same focals (marketing BS) as the others. Think of it like, no big corp, enough $$ to sustain, and dev oriented communities will inevitably produce polished work. Stability over mass features.

Anyways, dont give up, you will always encounter game-ending type limitations, whether in this "feature scope" or another. There is no perfect ecom...yet.

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Post by labeshops » Wed Jan 27, 2016 8:42 am

This is really a problem with a lot of software - pretty much any that allows 3rd party modifications, not just carts. Look at any of their forums and you will see the same type of post as yours. I've had wordpress mods break things just about as often.

What I suggest is to use as few mods as possible - just what you absolutely MUST have. I lost count of how many extensions I bought and no longer use because I discovered they were not needed. Waste of money and time tracking down errors. Once you have thorough understanding of the core features already built into opencart and how you can utilize them, it often negates mods you thought you needed.

I also suggest learning the core code yourself (or hiring someone) as much as possible. Most errors are things that can be easily corrected by someone that understands the basic structure of opencart core files and how vqmod (now ocmod) works.

I also stay away from 3rd party themes entirely (see another thread on the issues with them) and use the default theme that comes with opencart which I have modified mostly thru css changes. Again once you understand how opencart works, this is really a simply matter.

Finally, if you do make any changes yourself, remember to keep track and document them. This is easily done using vqmods/ocmods since you can include comments, but be sure to make notes so you can undo issues or redo changes if you update opencart core files.

With some pre-planning and forethought, you can avoid a lot of problems.

Running Opencart v3.0.3.2 with multi-stores from https://www.labeshops.com which has links to all my stores.

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Post by ugurus » Mon Feb 01, 2016 10:51 pm

flanders wrote:I don't see an alternative free cms ecommerce !

Prestashop? ....with Smarty ...and expensive extensions!

Magento? Perhaps is the best, but it is very difficult to learn and set.....and expensive extensions!

Woocommerce? you try it with +1500/2000 products and many orders...it becomes very slow!

Others????

I think same but if there are max 100 products ? and max 100 orders ? and without extension compare ?

others can be better ?

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Post by Burt65 » Wed Feb 10, 2016 1:13 pm

wafflemeister wrote:I have been using Opencart for about 3 years now and it has done its job. However, every job can be done in a good and bad way. I just wanted to share my experience, as I think it would be helpful to other entrepreneurs in the longrun......


Opencart has done it for me over the last 3 years, but I am ready to move on. It is a good product for a complete newbie to ecommerce to get started with, but if you are looking to build a complete and efficient e-commerce presence look elsewhere. Same goes with the mediocre web hosting solution of Arvixe that Opencart pushes.

I hope this is helpful to some. Good luck!
No, no... good luck to you :D
Like you said. You have been around here three years and now you are ready to move on.. And that's all your experience really. I will wait here patiently, for you to explore the horizons and see the world.. See what the other software has to offer. I don't want to ruin the new experience for you...

But you are dead right on one thing. Everybody here at Opencart (including myself) could have a much simpler, easier and more enjoyable life if we had a serious real quality control on all those extensions available in the shop.
Jesus... what a mess it has become...and there is no light at the end of the tunnel yet. And I'm not talking about extension colliding with other extensions, but extension that just don't work, full stop. Maybe someone should start a list of what is actually good and functional and remove all the rest...

See ya soon wafflemeister ;D

Over 95% of all computer problems can be traced back to the interface between the keyboard and the chair...


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