Shopping Cart Comparisons, Zen Cart Review

Author xlxmarketing 21.9.2009. | 15:36

If you’re new to the world of ecommerce one of the first things you’ll want to look at is which way you want to sell your products.

Be it through eBay, Yahoo shopping or your own online store powered by such programs as OSCommerce and Zen Cart.

However getting clear, correct easily understood information is a little hard when the people who know the most of it tend to talk to you like you know the same amount too.

So Chinavasion will be running a series on the different ecommerce software / platform options available to you, go through how they work and talk about their benefits and problems.

This is the second part in an ongoing series. You can read the OSCommerce introduction by clicking on this link

Zen Cart

It is fitting that an introduction/review of Zen Cart should follow OSCommerce as Zen Cart is essentially an open source variant of the ecommerce behemoth.

Like OSCommerce Zen Cart is a HTML/CSS sandwich wrapped in PHP and served on a plate of MySQL. (See our review of OSCommerce if you don’t know what any of those terms mean).

Zen Cart was put together in 2003 by an international team of coders from the base OSCommerce code.

The initial team of Canadian, US and British Coders did more than just give OSCommerce a face-lift they also changed the features as well including (amongst other things):

  • newsletter manager
  • discount coupons
  • gift certificates
  • quantity discounts
  • A better downloads manager (allowing for better management of digital media sales)
  • a function for phpBB bulletin board support (although you will have to install this software yourself)

Another bonus with the installation process of Zen Cart is that it has a very smart ‘installer’ that will alert you if something is not actually correct.

This is very handy, especially when it comes to file permissions, which can play merry havoc with your sanity if you don’t get them right first time.

On the other side of the coin Zen Cart has been known for being a little on the unwieldy side and, as a result is probably not the best place for beginners to start.

And this is even before you get into the web hosting, marketing and name rental issues that were discussed in the previous introduction to OSCommerce.

One commenter on the very detailed Ecommerce Guide review of Zen Cart ( ) warned that the checkout procedure was longer in Zen Cart than OS Commerce and other online shopping cart software and could be a turn off for customers.

However, according to some sources the software is going to have a major overhaul, with a Zen Cart version 2.0 due to be released some time in the future ( ). So the problems above may be fixed by the new version.

Like OSCommerce there is a very active and helpful forum backing up Zen Cart as well as a wiki, which has most of the answers for the other questions.

Zen Cart Guides

  • Zen Cart Installation Guide:
  • Zen Cart
  • Zen Cart Tutorials:
  • Zen Cart Wiki:

So, as you can see, if you are looking to get something set up quick and get access to a fairly large market fairly quickly then perhaps Zen Cart is not your best option.

However, if you are willing to put in some work to create your own site and build up traffic and you want your own corner of the web then setting up your own site with Zen Cart might be the way to go.

Visit the Zen Cart forums and decide whether it is suitable for your needs. And, if you are already active on the internet let us know how by taking part in the poll below.

And stay tuned because we will be going over the following systems in the next few weeks:

  • Auctiva
  • Yahoo Shopping

Zen Cart Summary


  • Name: Zen Cart
  • Times Downloaded: 400,000
  • Cost:Free
  • Customizationability:Very customizable
  • Support
  • Software Requirements: XAMPP (only if building your site on your own computer)
  • Other Requirements:
    • A rudimentary knowledge of code
    • A web hosting provider
    • A domain name
  • Download From:

Author xlxmarketing 21.9.2009. | 15:36
Write a comment


  1. João Dias September 24, 22:40

    Now we only need to now what script chinavasion are using…

    I this it is a nice ecommerce script.

    I am using digistore (OSCommerc like)

  2. discount guy October 7, 00:24

    thanks for the great review, this seems like a pretty good script to use 🙂

  3. Emre December 1, 08:14

    Would you provide live feed of your inventory to be included in the ecommerce website so that there is no need to enter each product manually one by one and also the cart always stay up to date? Thank you.

  4. EWong March 4, 06:17

    I found some ecommerce now is done usiong self-calculating
    online web forms.
    Here ae a couple of examples:

    It seems you can add products and prices to these forms
    and when in use, they calculate totals, tax & shipping with
    each stroke of the keyboard. While a shopping cart bounces
    back and forth to the server evertime a product is selected,
    the web form page is sent only once. All product selections
    are made on the same web page and submitted when the
    shopping is complete.

  5. Anitha July 16, 16:44

    Thanks to all….

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