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Zen Cart Review


Zen Cart Review

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Liz Hull

Liz Hull

Liz Hull is a writer for Merchant Maverick. In her three years with Merchant Maverick, she has tested and reviewed over 40 eCommerce platforms and published two ebooks on the topic of online selling. Liz has also been published in Startup Nation and Home Business Magazine Online. Liz has a BA in English and Spanish from George Fox University.

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    Organization Name: Downtown Magazine

    Glad I found this site (Merchant Maverick) and the review of ZC. I was working with OSCommerce and getting frustrated. When I saw that ZC was a branch off OSCommerce, I installed it and could not be happier. I am a small business working out of my home and ZenCart has all the features – and more – that a small business would want.Also, there’s an active and dedicated bunch of developers working on ZenCart. Their forum is very active and their documentation is top notch. I believe this review should be revisited and the 3 1/2 stars upgraded to 5 stars. In my opinion, it is the best FREE ecommerce solution on the market, and that’s worth its weight in gold.

    • Organization Name: Downtown Magazine
    Gernot Hassenpflug

    Organization Name: Protea Wines Japan

    I started with Zen Cart about 5 years ago, after investigating both the availability of shopping cart software here in Tokyo, Japan, and its customizability and updating. For my side-business it was clear from the start that the commercial offerings would be vastly too expensive right off the bat; and unfortunately the local Zen Cart hosting companies use old and unmaintained versions. So I ended up investing heavily in learning the software, and creating Japanese support for the latest version. This has worked out very well, and the help from the forums has been great. I admit it was hard work, but this type of investment is something I consider necessary to make sure the business has a reliable engine driving it. There are fortunately also plenty of available and recommended experts to hire via the forums, which is a good thing to be able to fall back on.

    • Organization Name: Protea Wines Japan

    Organization Name: Earth Systems

    I have been using Zencart since 2008 and I must say that it has been the most adaptable cart that I have ever used. I started trading online in 2003 which was the very early stages of online shopping. Over the years I have tried almost all the software available from the very cheapest open source up to the most expensive (PLC) MNP. While companies like mNP offer an amazing interface with automated picking etc the shop end was no better, indeed far worse than zencart. If you are looking for a simple, easy to use shopping cart then ZEncart is the best option. Yes you may have to add modules however you get to decide what you want/need. If you are not tech savy then use an online web programmer from O Desk or similar and they will always help and

    I hope this helps the zencart team who still embrace the online theme like ceon

    • Organization Name: Earth Systems

    Organization Name: Source Best Solutions

    It is good to see reviews on zencart. I have been using zencart for last nine years. That is know about it from version 1.3.8 to the current version. In every system there will be a difficulty. As far as zencart, the only issue any one ever can complain is lesser non availability of themes/ templates. If you have designer/ web developer who can get this done, Believe me, you are going to use one of the worlds best ecommerce store you will be using. It is built with such a care that hackers cannot get into it easy. You can run the store without updating for 5 to six years. That is something amazing( you are updating your websites twice a week as wordpress and paying for modules of wordpress every year) . You have a free shopping cart system. (But you are paying monthly charges for shopify!)You can maintain and customize cheaply(You need to pay hefty amount for magento customization)And finally it is a PCI compliance system. Most of the systems are still struggling to get / keep this.I dont think you want something more of a shopping cart that supports seo friendly, less maintained and free to use.

    • Organization Name: Source Best Solutions

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.


    Organization Name: Self

    Could you help me? I made an online purchase from Never received anything from them except charge to my visa. They have web run by Zen. Their website is down for many days. Is there a way you can help me contact this vendor? Will Zen tell me who this is. According to my credit card charge they are in China. I want to get my money back & prevent them from doing this to someone else. Thank you for your help.

    • Organization Name: Self

    How can I get a hold of
    I made a purchase, it took awhile to receive and it was not what I ordered. There is no way to contact them.
    They had no problem charging my card. I need to return these items that I will never use. Please help. Thank you

      We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.

      Helene Wallis

      I’ve been using Zencart for almost a year now, and what a welcome change it was from my last shopping cart software. I love the fact that I can customize anything. Yes, doing so requires either some previous knowledge of programming and website maintenance, or the willingness to learn. If you just can’t imagine doing anything for yourself, or you feel it’s too expensive to pay someone else to do it for you, then you’ll have to settle for one of the pre-built sites where you pay by the month and have no control over the features. I appreciate the fact that the Zencart developers have spent their time making a solid, dependable, bug-free core that others can build on. I’ve made some changes myself, used free plug-ins for other changes, and purchased (at very moderate cost) some additional plug-ins. The savings in monthly fees alone have made a big difference to my small business, which is self-funded and still growing. The author of this article says that Zencart isn’t ‘intuitive.’ I have news for you–no shopping cart system worth fooling around with is intuitive. If there are sufficient choices for it to accomplish the tasks needed by a worldwide user base, you’re going to have to spend some time learning how to use it. Have you tried Woocommerce? Talk about not intuitive! I gave up on it and went back to Zencart.


        This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.


        Thanks for the thorough review, it’s been a while since I’ve used zen cart and just stumbled onto your review on google search.I have to mention something that nobody seems to understand about the zencart project (including the comments)…Zen Cart is NOT a flashy “woo look at my fancy layouts” bells and whistles project…it never was, and (hopefully) never will be… it is designed from ground up to be customisable, expandable and secure.The whole development team is focused on the things that matter to the core functionality, they added a Templating feature so users can make their OWN flashy, fancy layouts…. the developers provide the core functionality, and you the users have complete control over how it looks.This is the way it has always been…. having said all of this…I do agree that it’s time for a freshen up of the default storefront view and admin view…also, their use of tables markup for building blocks could be updated to divs instead, but again, this is not a priority to the developers, and i for one am glad of that fact. To me it means they spend more of their energy in making a better core system, rather than a crappy core with a pretty face.


          This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.


          Thanks for the review Amad.I am still caught up on which open source software to use for my next site.This is on the list, so now at least I have a good overview of the product. Like trying any new ecommerce platform, a learning curve is expected. Thanks!


            This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.


            And I thought Magento was bad!
            I just landed not one but two new clients that use Zen Cart so I’m trying to speed learn this thing. My God! “The out of the box storefront template is embarrassingly bad and looks like it hasn’t evolved much since George W. Bush’s first term in the Oval Office.” I couldn’t agree more (I might have said Reagan) Who uses this in 2016? I think the only way it has stayed in business so long is the word FREE. I would recommend anyone who has the option to run to Big Commerce, WordPress or hell…code it from scratch…ANY OTHER backend system but this!

              This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.


              Hi, great review, I have been working with zen cart for about 6 years now. I am a small business man and not a programmer or developer. I needed a little help at first with the first build and install, but now can do most stuff myself and have learnt how to change some of the PHP and mod stuff to suit me.. bit of googling and it is not that hard.I find Zen cart awesome, Yes the stock templates look dated, but my site does very well with SEO, and its just a case of a few plugins and keeping up with what works best for Google (which changes). If I were new to this would not be put off from trying , especially if you are new to web shops.. I think this package enables you to create stuff that is often much better and with better functionality than large bespoke stores have.If you need help, it is easy to pick up an experienced Zen cart developer at an on line agency, who will do the setup and work with you. This is often an inexpensive and fast way to develop a site . I used a guy in India who was fantastic.


                This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.


                I had used Oscommerce for a few years, then switched to Zen-Cart, and I prefer Zen-Cart over the two and now work with Zen-Cart on four different websites. I just wish more Credit card merchants would provide modules for Zen-Cart like they do for Oscommerce. I just have fewer problems with Zen-Cart. The above article is good. You have to have a little computer knowledge to setup and use Zen-Cart. I also find Google more helpful and faster to get answers for me to use to search the Zen-Cart support forums.


                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.


                  This is really great and thorough review of Zen Cart system. I´m using it for more than 5 years now and although it´s not perfect (nobody and nothing in this world is), I´m really satisfied. It offers you a plenty of possibilities, plugins and updates which allows you to create a complex e-store.

                    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

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                  Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity. The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone.