How To Install An Open Source Shopping Cart And Start Your Online Store In Under 5 Minutes

Ever since I posted my article on Why Etsy Stores Are At A Disadvantage Compared To Online Stores That Own Their Domain, I’ve been meaning to show everyone how easy it is to install a free open source shopping cart.

These days, there are many open source shopping carts out there that are completely free and very feature rich.

You simply have to sign up for a web host, download and install the free shopping cart and you are almost ready to go.

So today, I thought that I’d give a mini tutorial on how to install Open Cart which is one of the open source shopping carts I recommend in my free 6 day mini course on how to create a niche online store.

Open Cart is an incredible shopping cart that is easy to use and has an elegant back end interface with which to manage your orders and products. Did I also mention that it’s free?

What Do I Need To Begin?

In order to install an open source shopping cart and follow my tutorial, you’ll need to do the following.

  • Register a domain name – You can grab a domain name from Go Daddy for a dollar a month.
  • Sign up for a web host – I personally recommend Blue Host because I ran my online store for 2 years there and had a fantastic experience.
  • Get SSH access to your server – You need to contact your web host and ask for this access which usually requires a faxed in a copy of your drivers license
  • Install WinSCP or any FTP client to transfer files to and from your webserver
  • Install PUTTY for SSH terminal access to your server
  • Have your web browser ready
  • Download Open Cart for free from www.opencart.com

Installing Your Open Source Shopping Cart

Once you’ve downloaded all of the necessary programs above and have your web host all set up, you are ready to go!

Quick Note: All of the instructions mentioned in the video below are actually not necessary if you sign up for a hosting account at Blue Host. The reason is because Blue Host offers a program called “Simple scripts” which allows you to install many programs at the click of a button.

In any case, the tutorial below will teach you how to install a shopping cart from complete scratch which applies to any web hosting account. Enjoy the video!

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19 thoughts on “How To Install An Open Source Shopping Cart And Start Your Online Store In Under 5 Minutes”

  1. I never new that there was an open source shopping cart with so many features. I’ll have to keep this one in mind in the future for sure.

    How well is this shopping cart supported? If there is an issue, is it resolved fairly quickly?

    1. Hi Paul,

      OpenCart is well supported and is updated very often, sometimes every other week. There’s also a fairly active community that creates plugins for this cart as well. You should check it out and answer your question for yourself.

  2. Well there are many ways, most web hosting offer Fantastico or other script installer programs with come with pre-build list of shopping carts which are open source.

  3. Indeed Paul, this is a great source for shopping, I really liked this website and I like the video as well, the way defined is pretty nice. Thanks I must use this.

  4. Chris says:

    Hey Steve,

    Bluehost doesn’t require a copy of your drivers’ license anymore for SSH access. I called and they said they changed their requirements and set me up with access in about 2 minutes or less.

  5. Vincent says:

    Hi Steve,

    How is this opencart compared to zen cart? Does it already build in with “fast checkout” module (aka guest checkout)?

  6. Vincent says:

    Hi Chris,

    Thank you for the reply. OC does look nicer than ZC. However, I listened to Steve before and set up a ZC… now it’s gonna be a pita for me to switch :( So I’m still thinking if I should switch now or just wait out a bit. ZC community is really bad in providing support nowadays. Most questions are being ignored even though they were politely asked. They tend to help out with easy issues only.

  7. Hi Vincent

    I wrote my original ebook over 2 years ago and things have changed obviously in terms of technology. It’s not about the shopping cart, it’s about how you design and market your store that matters. My store is still using the same old backend that was created in 2006 and it’s still doing well.

    If your store is making money already, there’s no reason to switch. Open Cart has a much more modern look and has many more features out of the box than ZC, but you have to weigh in the cost of the transition. What problems are you having with ZC?

  8. We love Open Cart too. But we recommend Magento for SMEs and large enterprises. using Open Cart is as easy as you mentioned. Only thing, if it was that easy to have real-time shipping calculations integrated with Open Cart, it truly would have been a stunning piece of software.

  9. @Steve
    If real time shipping calculations is that important, then sure. But many large shops don’t use real time shipping calculations and opt for a table rate method instead. I also recommend Magento in my course but most of the features are overkill for the average small to medium size shop.

    Doing real time shipping calculations via 3rd party also adds another point of failure for your site

  10. Jerry M says:

    Steve,

    Please explain how you use SSH. What is it for? I think it basically provides command line access into your account, right? I have had a hosting account at Bluehost for a forum I run but I have never needed SSH for anything.

    Jerry

    1. Hey Jerry
      You are correct. SSH allows you to have command line access directly to your server. In many cases, you can get by with just transferring files back and forth via SFTP, but having SSH access is so much more convenient. In addition, you can write perl and other scripts on the fly which you can’t do from your PC at home.

  11. “You are correct. SSH allows you to have command line access directly to your server. In many cases, you can get by with just transferring files back and forth via SFTP, but having SSH access is so much more convenient.”

    the same goes iin my case

  12. Shanna says:

    I have a domain name through Go Daddy, why do I need a web host? Do I give the web host my domain name? I’m brand new to this so sorry if it’s a simple answer?

    1. Hi Shanna,
      Your domain name is simply an address. You need a computer to run your website under that domain and that is where your webhost comes in. You need to point your domain to your webhost.

  13. This is great although I never used it before. Some friends of mine said this CMS is one of top CMSes for ecommerce, so sure it’s good.

    If you’re using WordPress, there are other alternatives such as Woocommerce and Easy Digital Download plugin.

  14. I recently switched to OC from Zencart and love the new platform. It was pretty easy setting up and download a nice template to use. I like that there are extensions available in the OC marketplace. So far so good.

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