OpenCart Extensions - When to Buy, and When to Download Free

This is a guest post by Jason Daszkewicz whose author bio will be at the end of the post.


OpenCart is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms that has been used by many businesses to establish their online stores and run their e-commerce ventures smoothly.

In order to use it, simply install, choose a theme, add products and you are all set to begin receiving orders.

OpenCart, WooCommerce for WordPress, osCommerce and PrestaShop are well-suited for small to medium sized organizations while other platforms such as Magento are sometimes preferred by large-sized businesses.

But Why OpenCart?

OpenCart Free Open-Source Ecommerce Platform

OpenCart is relatively new in the e-commerce industry, which follows all trends in the internet business and is absolutely open for innovations. It is easier for a business owner to establish an e-commerce store with this e-commerce platform.

Also, it is imperative to mention that this shopping cart has no limits when it comes to adding manufacturers, categories and products. So, irrespective of the size of your store, it will always have enough space for all your products.

Here are some more reasons that will persuade you to choose OpenCart for your next online venture.

Offers Cost-Effective Modules and Themes

Cost Effective OpenCart Modules

The software offers an inbuilt template system which allows you to switch between different templates with a single click or migrate the existing look of your website. Apart from this, it is also a module based system which enables you to conveniently extend the functionality as per your requisites.

Fully Functional Administrative UI

OpenCart comes with a highly intuitive and user-friendly admin area which allows webmasters to quickly integrate well-known payment options, set up shipping options, define SEO keywords (for SEO URLs), add categories, product photos, and products.

Create Multi Stores

The software also supports multi-store which enables you to handle 2 or more than 2 stores from the same admin dashboard. Best of all, it allows you to use a different theme for a different store to render exclusively looking stores as well as improving the user interface.

Variety of Payment Gateways

OpenCart enables you to use a variety of different payment options. It comes with many popular payment modules for the well-recognized money processors. With the built-in payment gateways, it is immaculate for any web business model. However, for more specific and different payment processors one might need to use additional modules.

Multi Tax Rates

The software enables you to configure a variety of tax zones so that the right taxes are paid depending on which country the products are being shipped.

But what if you need to extend the core functionality of OpenCart?

Regardless of the many inbuilt features and functionality this software has to offer, there are times when you need additional functionality which can be accomplished with OpenCart plugins.

Considering the role of plugins in the development of a website, it's no surprise to see how OpenCart plugins can be one of OpenCart's greatest strengths... and how they can also turn into its greatest weaknesses.

Plugins are developed to solve a specific problem or render an important functionality.

The key to successful development of an OpenCart project is to know which plugin to use and when. And also, install them from tested and trusted sources when required.

Things have changed since the inception of OpenCart. Those days are gone when you had to think twice before forking out cash for an OpenCart plugin.

Today, the range and quality of free plugins have drastically increased, while there are certain amazing premium plugins available, which can save you from hours of efforts and can, at the same time, prove to be extremely cost-effective.

Thanks to the evolution of various open source platforms, the sources for finding useful and resourceful free and premium plugins are in abundance today.

So, if you haven't invested years downloading, purchasing, developing and testing OpenCart plugins, how do you comprehend when to download a free plugin and when you should bring the money to the table?

We are now going to learn about the differences between premium and free plugins, and knowing the variations in between.

I am going to discuss whether to use a free plugin or buy a premium one depending on a certain criteria.

Deciding Whether to Go Free or Premium

Free vs Premium OpenCart Extensions

You may need a plugin for your own website or a number of various clients' projects you are working on. Choosing a particular type of plugin plays a crucial role in the success of your online venture.

Here are five factors that help you decide whether you should go for a free plugin or a premium one.

1. Quality

The most imperative factor in regards to choosing a plugin is its quality. You wouldn't want to end up with a crappy plugin on your website.

By quality, I am not just referring to the various features it comes with, but to how well a plugin is coded. A good plugin will be coded in accordance with the W3C standards and will  possess neat and clean code to reduce the load on your server while executing. A great plugin must have features that it requires to do its intended task, accompanied by documentation that assists you in installing and using it.

There are certain cases in which you will find that you can acquire amazing quality without having to spend a penny. There are various examples of high-quality free plugins that will give everything you need for your projects.

But if you find insufficient features or support in such plugin, you better pay extra for the additional quality. Moreover, if you have to invest a lot of efforts to customize a plugin to meet your requirements, the money spend on a premium plugin is well worth it.

2. Budget

Budget is one of the most crucial factors. If you don't have enough budget to invest on a premium plugin, you are left with no choice but to go for a free plugin. If you are working on a client's project and can charge him/her for the premium plugin that makes your job easier, then it makes absolute sense to consider having a premium plugin.

But in some cases investing on a premium plugin is a cost-effective solution even if you cannot decline the price of the plugin. As an instance:

  • You are working on your website, and you know using a premium plugin will not only reduce your development time but also assist you in bringing more customers or users to your website. Considering the amount of time you are investing in your website, the premium plugin cost is not a huge investment when compensated against the additional money you could draw by using it.

  • You can use the same premium plugin on various other projects when the alternative free one doesn't quite meet the requisites of the other projects you are handling.

  • You are working on a client's project with a fixed budget but having a premium plugin will save you a lot of development time which can be invested on another project to earn extra money.

3. Future-proofing

When it comes to using a plugin in the future, there are three major things to be considered.

  • Do you plan on using the plugin on a number of different projects in the future?

  • Does it come with an access to a directory of other plugins that can be used for future projects?

  • Is the chosen plugin gets updated on a daily basis?

If the project you are working on will be maintained well in the future, it requires to be updated with the latest versions of the WordPress. And so do the plugins you'd be using on the project. Good-quality plugins will also be kept up-to-date to expand their set of features and reply to modifications in users' requisites.

There are various free plugins that live up to all these factors just as there are certain premium plugins that don't.

If you intend to use a plugin over and over again, then investing on it makes more sense than if you plan on using it only once, as the cost is usually covered. This will also affect whether you get paid for the premium plugin. As an instance, I pay for the plugins I use on a variety of projects I take up. However, when I have to build a website that requires premium plugins which are specific to that particular project, I pass on the cost to the client. This saved them both time and money as my development time to build the required feature from scratch would have cost them way more than the actual cost of a premium plugin. This way we (my client and I) always land a win-win situation.

4. Skill Level

A highly-skilled and experienced developer will be able to use a basic plugin and build a new one with the required functionality. However, if you have never written a single line of code before and just beginning with WordPress development, you won't be comfortable customizing a plugin to meet your requirements. In this case, if you are unable to find a free plugin that will do the required job, then you may want to use a premium alternative.

Another scenario is when you want instant technical support or documentation to help you configure and use the plugin. You are more likely to get the said things from a premium plugin. While free plugins do come with support in the form of forums and support pages, you cannot always depend on it if you need instant help.


When you work with OpenCart or any other open source platform like WordPress, there is no particular way of deciding whether to choose a free plugin or a premium one. But there are certainly few things that can make the decision easier.

  • The quality of the plugin – whether free or premium.

  • Whether you possess the required skills and knowledge to install and set up a free plugin with little to no documentation and support available, or customize it to get it perform the functionality you want.

  • Whether you need to pass the cost on to the client or can afford the plugin yourself.

  • How long you are planning to use the plugin for your existing or upcoming projects.

In most cases, you will easily find a free plugin that will live up to your expectations and render just as high quality as that of a premium alternative, but there will be times when you won't be able to find the required one. In such cases, this guide should assist you in deciding which approach to consider.


Author Bio:

Jason is a WordPress Expert, associated with Wordsuccor Ltd. and has a lot of experience in converting PSD to WordPress. He has delivered numerous range of quality products related to this. He has a strong passion for writing useful insights, tips and tricks about WordPress.

Join 11,000+ subscribers receiving actionable E-commerce advice

* Unsubscribe any time

Trending blogs

comments powered by Disqus