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How to create an online store on OpenCart from scratch

27 November 2021, Saturday By Priyanka Boruah

The more time you spend online, the more you notice how many people are making money using the web. If you need hosting, in 90% of cases this means that you want to start your own business or already have a business, but want to take it to the digital space. There are situations when you want to start your own business, but it becomes scary ... What if it doesn't work out?

Well what can I tell you, everything is not so scary! Therefore, in this article I will tell you how to create your own online store on OpenCart in just a few hours. Go!

online store

Choosing a hosting and installing OpenCart

We start with the main thing - choose a hosting and a tariff plan. Read What Is Web Hosting? Explanation For Beginners for more details.

After that, go to the control panel, go to the "CMS Catalog" and select OpenCart in the "Other" tab.

We've already published an overview of the OpenCart engine. I also consider this CMS to be one of the most suitable for creating a small online store. The platforms themselves are often similar, therefore, having understood the device of one, it will be easier for you to work with other CMS.

opencart online store

Before starting the installation, you can select the domain to which you will install the platform. This is not very important, since then you can still unlink the domain from the test one and bind it to the one you need. Read What Is A Domain Name? Explanation For Beginners and How to buy a domain - a guide to registering a domain name for more information.

In general, at this moment you, consider, and have your own store on the network. True, while it doesn’t sell what you want, and it looks (perhaps) not the way you would like it. Therefore, let's move on to setting up.

Setting up an online store on OpenCart

To enter the site's administrative panel, you need to go to and enter the data that was generated during the CMS installation (the login and password will appear in the window after installing the engine, and will also come to your email).

opencart admin dashboard

Now let's move on to the main thing - to choosing a template. You can find templates on the official website.

To show only free templates, select "Free" in the filter. And in order for the theme to be used with the installed version of OpenCart, in the "OpenCart version" column, select the one that was installed through the automatic CMS installer in the control panel. 

In this article, I will talk about the theme that appears on the site by default after installing OpenCart.

After logging in, you are taken to the status panel: statistics on orders, customers, and so on are shown here. 

Now we go to the directory settings - movement in the administration panel is carried out through the menu on the left (it can be in hidden mode - only icons, or in open mode - icons and item labels). Actually, the catalog is the main thing that is responsible for filling your site: there are product categories, products themselves, manufacturers, reviews and much more. Briefly about each point:

  • Catalog - groups that will determine the division of goods according to some criteria; here you can create not only global categories, but also subcategories (the category to which the subsection belongs must be defined in its settings in the Data tab - Parent category).
  • Products - a list of products that you intend to sell; There are a lot of settings, they are intuitive; Please note that products can be hidden on the site if you select the "Disabled" status for them (the "Data" tab).
  • Filters - creating a selection of products by one of the properties (for example, color).
  • Attributes - characteristics that are shown in the corresponding tab on the product page.
  • Options - characteristics of a specific product that can be selected on the purchase screen (for example, color, size, and so on).
  • Manufacturers - a separate characteristic that is also indicated for products and by which you can also filter products (the list can be found at the end of the page under the link "Manufacturers").
  • Files for download - files that will be available to customers after payment and completion of the order; useful for those looking to sell digital content.
  • Reviews - Moderate customer reviews.
  • Articles - pages that are displayed at the very bottom of the site (most often with reference information - delivery, payment, and so on).

Now let's move on to the next big section - Modules/Extensions. Here you can install the downloaded extensions, as well as activate the modules in order to bring them to the site.

opencart admin panel extensions

Below in the menu you will see "Design" - the section that determines how the pages of your online store look like. For example, here you can add modules to your website page, swap them, and so on.

The content of the Sales and Customers sections is clear from their names, but Marketing has several interesting possibilities. For example, there you can create discount coupons (or free shipping), and then track when the coupons have been used. Here you can also create mailings and set up an affiliate program: your partners will receive a percentage of the purchases of customers who came with a referral code.

opencart admin panel

In the "System" section , you can configure the internal parameters of your store, for example, currency and languages, as well as define possible order statuses and product statuses.

opencart admin panel

Finally, "Reports" is a great tool for viewing statistics and analyzing sales, customer actions, and so on.

Now let's move from theory to practice.

Filling out the online store

In this section, I will sequentially tell you through examples how and what you need to do to turn a template site into your own online store.

So you have your products. First you need to decide what categories they will be divided into. For example, furniture can be divided first into categories: tables, chairs, sofas, and then into subcategories: tables - dining and computer tables, chairs - ordinary and on wheels, sofas - straight and angular.

opencart admin panel

Now go to the "Catalog" section and create all the categories and subcategories we need there. For subcategories in the column "Parent category" (tab "Data") write the category in which they should be displayed.

Do not forget to fill in the data for all categories as much as possible - description, image, etc. Because categories and subcategories are separate pages that users will also visit.

Important: in order for the categories to be shown in the main menu, check the "Main menu" item (the "Data" tab).

If a manufacturer is important for your products, then enter information on each manufacturer - section "Manufacturers".

I would also like to tell you about filters and how to add them.

How to add a filter

First you need to enable the filter block itself - for this, go to the settings in the "Modules/Extensions" section, and then to the "Modules/Extensions" subsection.

Please note that the extension types must be "Modules"

Almost at the very bottom of the list there will be a line "Filter" - you need to activate it (do this not on the general page with modules, but go to the filter settings).

Now go to Design and then to Layouts. And here select the type of page on which you want to place the block with the filter. Let's say this is a product category page. Then go to the "Category" - here you need to choose the place where you want to place the module with the filter: on the right, left, bottom or top. In the area you need, add one more line and select "Filter" there:

Now to the main thing - in the "Catalog" section, go to the "Filters" subsection and create one or more filters that you need. Focus on what filters are needed for your products, you should not create too many filters.

When you're done with this, put down filters for all products (settings for each product, the "Links" tab), and then add to the category where this filter should be displayed (go to the category settings, the "Data" tab).

Well, that's all, the task is completed on this.

How to add a product attribute

Attributes are important characteristics of a product that will help customers, among other things, compare products with each other.

  1. First, let's create a group of attributes (section “Attributes”, subsection “Group of attributes”): everything is simple here, you just need to enter a name and set the sorting. In fact, you need to divide the characteristics into groups.
  2. Next, go to the "Attributes" subsection and create all the necessary attributes (in the "Attribute Group" column, indicate the group in which you want to place this attribute).
  3. The final step is to add the necessary attributes to all products (in their settings, the tab is called “Attributes”).

Editing documents

You can start a blog in your online store, but even without it, you will have several pages, information on which must be filled in. For example, terms of agreement, shipping information, and so on. All these pages can be found in the "Articles" subsection in the "Catalog" section.

By the way, in the same subsection, in the settings of each element (the “Data” tab, the “Display below” column) you can choose whether it will be displayed in the page footer or not.

Payment and delivery

Initially, you set the price of an item in its settings (when creating or editing an item). After that, you can reduce its price by setting a lower price (the "Promotion" tab) - in this case, the original price will be crossed out, and the new price will be lower (this trick attracts the attention of buyers and is regularly used in many online stores).

There is another option - if you want to reduce the price for some time or for a specific group of buyers, then use the "Discount" tab. The price will be displayed as the default price. In this case, the promotion can also be used during the discount period.

If you want to accrue bonuses for the purchase of goods, then put down the required amount in the settings of each product (the "Bonuses" tab).

On the part of customers, coupons can be used - their logic is generally the same as for the promotion: go to Marketing, then to Coupons and create a coupon either for a certain amount or for a percentage of the cost of goods. You can set the date and number of coupon applications (total and by a specific user). Similarly, you can create certificates in the "Sales" -> "Certificates" -> "Certificates" tab.

You can determine which payment methods will be used on your website in the "Modules/Extensions" subsection. On the top line - "Select the type of extension" - select "Payment", and you will be shown a list with possible payment methods (some of them are disabled by default).

opencart admin panel

If you need any other specific payment methods that are more common in our latitudes, then it is better to look for plugins on the official website.

Returning to the modules and extensions - in the type of extensions, now select "Take into account in order". Everything that will be taken into account when forming the final order amount is put down here.

Now let's move on to delivery.

It is configured here in modules and extensions, the extension type is "Delivery". Again, if you need a specific shipping method, look for plugins.

In this case, you can enable the "Free shipping" module - in this case, you can define the minimum amount, starting from which the delivery will be free.


Let's deal with the status of the warehouse and the status of orders.

The state in the warehouse can be edited if you go to "System" -> "Localization" -> "State in the warehouse" - you can edit already created attributes, you can create some of your own.

The order status is needed in order to determine at what stage the work with the order is. Immediately after creation, the order receives the status "Pending", however, in this menu you can edit and set a different wording by default. Statuses can be deleted, in addition to the one that is used after creating the order, and those that have already been used in orders.

Customizing the home page

The home page is the face of the site, and therefore it must be flawless and motivate customers to make purchases. In order to customize the modules of the main page, you need to go to "Design" -> "Layouts" -> "Home". This is where you define where and what elements will be shown on the home page (remember, we already set up the filter in a similar way).

And below in the same section "Design", in the subsection "Banners", you can edit the elements themselves - for example, upload new pictures.

You can change the parameters of other elements in "Modules/Extensions" -> "Modules/Extensions" - type "Modules".

On this, perhaps, I will finish my article about creating your own online store on OpenCart. I hope I was able to explain how to create a small online store on this platform. Experiment, try - and you will definitely succeed!

If you have any questions, ask in the comments.


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