PrestaShop vs OpenCart

When it comes to ecommerce in the open source community, both OpenCart and PrestaShop spring to my mind (alongside Magento, of course).

I’ve seen a lot of requests on Twitter and on various forums comparing OpenCart vs PrestaShop, and having had a deep look in to both of these open source ecommerce packages, I’ve compiled my thoughts below.

OpenCart vs PrestaShop: features

Both PrestaShop and OpenCart are highly developed open source ecommerce platforms, with all of the features you would expect, from product and category listings to support for the more popular payment gateways such as PayPal and (at least here in the UK) SagePay.

What’s more, both open source ecommerce systems have fairly vibrant communities and have a wide range of existing extensions.

Feature OpenCart PrestaShop
Content management OpenCart has a fairly solid but simple content management tool for non-product pages within your website, annoyingly known as ‘Information’ rather than ‘Pages’ in the administration panel. Content management is pretty smooth and is a bit more developed/less basic than OpenCart
Administration panel Whilst OpenCart’s administration panel is easy enough to use, it does include a number of dead-ends and odd design decisions which can make simple tasks a frustrating experience (e.g., having to add a ‘model number’ to a product whether you want to or not). PrestaShop’s administration area felt a lot nicer than OpenCart’s, but there were still a number of deadends/irritating omissions you’d expect from a fairly young open source project.
Theming OpenCart’s default theme improved drastically between versions 1.4 and 1.5, though it’s still fairly primitive in terms of abstraction of data; expect a lot of PHP snippets in your HTML! Again, PrestaShop felt more developed in this respect, with the default theme being a little more attractive (to my eye, at least)
Range of available addons/extensions Both OpenCart and PrestaShop have a fantastic range of extensions for the more common features you’d want to add to your store (e.g., Twitter and Facebook integtration, blogs)
Documentation OpenCart has a reasonable range of documentation online, and there is a selection of books on various OC-based topics, though some of these books are a little dated now (OpenCart is currently on version 1.5). There’s also a fairly active community discussion forum where those new to OpenCart can ask questions. One slight downside of PrestaShop is that, being a Paris-based company, quite a lot of the documentation is in French, though this is being slowly resolved.
Search engine friendliness OpenCart really loses out here. Whilst you can create search-engine friendly URLs for products and pages, don’t expect it to be particularly intuitive or easy! PrestaShop is similar to OpenCart in this theme: it takes a bit of configuration to get search-engine friendly URLs.
Scability OpenCart handles large numbers of products fairly easily, with the ability to group by manufacturer and attribute (e.g., colour, size) too. An OpenCart store for a client has around 1500 products in it, with no problems on the development server. I’ve not managed to create a large site in PrestaShop quite yet (there’s one of the cards soon, hopefully), but from what I read PrestaShop is better developed for scalability.
Checkout process OpenCart has a pretty nice one-page checkout system, though it relies heavily on JavaScript with no accessible fallbacks. PrestaShop’s checkout process is split in to 5 steps, but is pretty well thought through, and, of course, easily customisable.

I’d say PrestaShop is probably the better overall option for open source ecommerce, but OpenShop’s still a really nice project: I’m pretty torn between the two at the moment!


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