Starting with OpenCart. How you can make your online-store
- System Capabilities
- System Requirements
- Admin Interface
- System Settings in OpenCart
- OpenCart Templates
- Setting Up a Theme for a Store
- Choosing OpenCart Modules
- Installing OpenCart Modules
- Where to Find Modules
- Managing Customers
- Managing and Adding Products
- Managing Images
- Instruments for Analytics
OpenCart is a web based application which is written in PHP and uses MySQL database. When you opt for this eCommerce engine, you get:
- simple user interface
- open source solution
- powerful SEO capabilities
- unlimited number of multilevel categories
- unlimited number of products
- unlimited number of vendors
- product reviews
- product rankings
- ready-made themes (premium and free)
- automated image resizing
- multi-language solution
- varied payment gateways
- 8 shipping methods
You can download this CMS on its official site for free. Then you have to choose the name of your online shop, buy a domain name and pay for a hosting.
- Apache or Windows IIS
- PHP 5.3+(1.5.x at least 5.2+)
- Database (MySQLi suggested)
features a user-friendly interface. If you have ever seen admin panel
and have worked with it, you’ll easily master OpenCart.
Let’s use a demo-version for mastering this CMS.
Click this link http://demo.opencart.com/admin/ to enter a dashboard (admin panel).
The dashboard is the first thing you will see when entering OpenCart admin panel:
There are 5 sections of the dashboard that can help you understand the statistical data collected by your store:
There are four charts showing the status of your website: Total Orders, Total sales, Total Customers and People Online which help you work with the analytics easier.
- World Map:
A world map shows where the orders from your website are coming from.
- Sales Analytics:
A graph is provided to track the chronological progress of the store relative to the amount of orders and customers over time. The “x” value is time; which can be hours, days, or months depending on the range selected. The “y” value displays the number of total orders (yellow) and total customers (blue).
- Recent Activity:
A section to check out the recent activity of your store: login, creating account or placing new orders.
- Latest Orders:
A list that displays the last orders and their details (“Order ID”, “Customer”, “Status”, “Date Added”, “Total”, and “Action”)
Pay attention to the notification center in the upper right corner. It shows any possible activity: new comments, registration, etc. Clicking each of them, you can go to the corresponding admin section.
Before you start mastering OpenCart, you have to set up your online store. Go to the System Settings, set your store’s name, owner, address, email and a phone number. These will be used for your store’s contact page and order invoices.
Note that there are several tabs on this page: Store, Local, Option, Image, etc. You have to fill in all fields.
There is a test template in the demo version. Unfortunately, it can’t be customized. When you setup a CMS on the hosting, you will be able to install any template you like.
Store design is crucial for online shop as it affects sales. Its importance can’t be overestimated. That’s why the design you choose should be visually effective, contemporary and user-friendly. A variety of premium and free templates are presented on the web, but think twice before you choose the latter variant. Free themes are not always what you are looking for. Their designs and coding doesn’t always correspond to the contemporary requirements, they can contain malicious links which are harmful for a site. Choosing a premium theme, you can escape this trouble.
Professionals like TemplateMonster offer ready-made, fully-functional templates that you can easily customize regardless of whether you are a newbie, a professional webmaster or a designer. Cutting-edge designs with a varied list of capabilities – these are the basic features of TemplateMonster themes. Each template boasts of a valid, semantic code with progressive CSS3 enhancements, cross-browser compatibility and SEO-friendliness, awesome installation documentation, drop-down menu with multi levels, etc. And what’s more important, you can install them pretty quickly.
In this storage you can find OpenCart templates created for varied eCommerce spheres. http://www.templatemonster.com/opencart-templates.php. Here you’ll find the very theme you need for a successful online store.
When you buy a template, you get a .zip archive with all files you need for installation and work. After you download a theme, you have to set it up on your site. The procedure is the following:
- Upload files to your hosting server.
- Extract files from the template package.
- Access your OpenCart administration panel.
- Go to System > Settings.
- Select Your Store and click Edit link.
- Switch to the Store tab and in the Template select box choose your newly installed template.
- Click Save button in the top right corner to keep your changes.
That’s all. Make sure that you have saved all changes. Reload the home page of the site and you’ll see the installed template. Don’t forget that the template’s .zip should be previously uploaded on a hosting.
Sometimes you need to make changes in the code of the theme. If you’re not an expert, ask a specialist for help. When buying themes from TemplateMonster, you can be sure that its 24/7 tech support will answer all of your questions concerning their products. These guys can do this job from A-Z, install the theme, try out how the store works after the template installation.
OpenCart modules are analogous to add-ons, plugins, or extensions in other content management systems. It’s through modules that OpenCart gives the ability to extend its functionality without having to edit the application’s files.
There are a variety of OpenCart modules:
- Account: The User Account links (My Account, Edit Account, Order History, etc) box for the customer to access.
- Affiliate: Links for the store’s affiliate program are available in a box for affiliates to access.
- Banners: Adds an image banner with icons linking to different products or manufacturers in the store.
- Bestsellers: Adds a window displaying the best sellers wherever position/page it is specified.
- Carousel: Displays banners that can be navigated through as a slideshow.
- Category: Displays a module containing all the categories and subcategories of the store.
- Featured: Displays a featured box containing selected products.
- GoogleTalk: A chat box used with a Google account to interact with customers.
- Latest: Adds the latest (or the most recently added) products in the form of product icons to a product box on a page.
- Specials: Displays all the products with Specials in a product box. Specials can be added to products in the Special tab.
- Store: Creates a box for the customer to select another store to visit if there are multiple stores managed with OpenCart.
- Welcome: Creates a custom “Welcome” message for the customer to view on the home page.
There are premium and free modules. As usual, you can get the most popular and simple modules for free, but you need to pay for some more advanced modules.
The layout and functionality of the OpenCart admin panel depends on the template you have chosen. When you download a template, you get all the modules you need. If you want to add a third party module, you have to install it in the design you have. You may need some coding knowledge here.
Let’s see how to activate the inbuilt modules. Go to the “Modules” section, and you’ll see the list of available modules:
Multicolored buttons next to the module show the options (install, edit) you can apply to this module. After module activation you have to add it to the section “Templates” in the design.
If you want to download a third party module, you have to perform the following steps:
- Download the distribution archive files of the new module.
- Extract files on your local computer.
- Connect to your FTP account FileZilla and connect to your hosting.
The next step is to upload the installation files under your hosting account. Most of the modules will come with two directories in the archive – catalog and admin, and you should upload these under the public_html folder of your hosting account.
Choose only trusted resources when looking for modules. It can be http://www.opencart.com/index.php?route=extension/extension&filter_search=modules , for example.
The most popular modules are the following:
- Dial-back Module
- Opencart Fast Checkout
- Social Login Modules
- Recently Viewed Products Module
- Featured Products Module
To access customer information, you can log into the administration panel of the OpenCart store. The Customer management sections are located under Sales > Customers. There are three sections used to manage customer information: Customers, Customer Groups, and IP Blacklist.
Here opens the page with a list of customers of your shop. By clicking “+” in the upper right corner, you can add a new customer or delete the existing one by clicking the red button.
The main information about each customer is placed below. It shows: mail, email, status, IP, date of registration. If you need to find a customer, click “Filter” and it will locate specific customers matching the information typed in.
When you work in demo version, you can’t add/edit client’s information. It’s possible after installation on hosting. If you need to edit the client’s information, press “Edit” button next to the client’s name, and make any changes on the client’s page:
The Product section, accessed under Catalog, will display all the products available in the store. You can choose to “Copy” or “Delete” any product.
To product pages goes with a simple text editor for its description. You can place the general information about the product in tabs on this page.
Here you can set discounts, bonuses, create promos, etc. The next step is managing images.
Image Manager is a tool used in the administration to upload image files: banners, product images, the store logo, etc.
Clicking “Browse Files” will open up a new window called the “Image Manager”. The “Image” folder will be available in the left column, which can be found in the root folder where OpenCart was installed. You can use an FTP client to add and delete product images in your “image” folder. Another way to add images is to click the “Upload” button in the toolbar, which will open up your computer’s file directory to directly add them. The images below were provided for the default products. Select an image by clicking one, and press the “Delete” button in the toolbar to delete it.
It’s indispensable for every online shop. You have to know how often the clients register, what products are the most popular, etc. The system offers built-in functionality to analyze all this and much more.
To view the current sales, just enter your admin panel and check out the dashboard. For more information about this panel, get back to the beginning of this course.
The “Reports” section will show you all data concerning sales, products, clients.
The “Orders Report” can be accessed through Reports>Sales>Oders. Order information is displayed in either daily, weekly, monthly or yearly increments depending on which option you select in the “Group By” drop box. The “Filter” option can display the order information within a certain period of time using Date Start or End, or by order status.
The “Products Viewed Report” gives you an idea of what products are being viewed the most, or the least, in the store front. You can access this section under Reports > Products > Viewed in the administration side.
The “Products Purchased Report” can be found under Reports > Products > Purchased. The report will display all of the products that were purchased at the store. The products are positioned according to the total amount of money acquired for that product: the highest at the top and the lowest at the bottom.
One more strong point of OpenCart is its seamless integration with the popular 1C accounting system. You can set up the data exchange and see it in your conjoint system of sales accounting. It’s a great benefit for online business.
OpenCart is designed as a feature rich, easy to use, search engine friendly CMS with a visually appealing interface. It is an ideal solution for setting up a fully-functional online shop without extra efforts.