Because they are liberated to download and community-powered, free shopping carts could be attractive choices for retailers, especially individuals people with a few coding skills. Two well-established types of free carts where you can create and operate a web-based store are osCommerce and Zen Cart. Most widely known among the original PHP/MySQL free carts, osCommerce has been utilized to produce many 1000 online retailers since its beginning in 2000. osCommerce earned industry cred throughout the many years after it had been introduced but soon acquired some stiff competition.
Constructed with the bones of osCommerce, Zen Cart launched in 2003 with increased features than its predecessor, including coupons and product critiques. The PHP/MySQL cart boasts greater than 100,000 users, with lots of loyal programmers attesting to the quality. But like osCommerce, Zen Cart isn’t without its weaknesses.
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Otherwise, continue reading in my comparison of two most widely known free shopping cart software platforms available on the market.
Table of Contents
Web-Located or Licensed:
Both osCommerce and Zen Cart are free, self-located shopping carts that is free of charge to download.
Software and hardware Needs:
If you use osCommerce or Zen Cart, you’ll result in supplying or having to pay for secure hosting for the online shop. Observe that several website hosts offer installation services. Read information regarding osCommerce’s hosting needs here and Zen Cart’s needs here.
When I pointed out above, as opposed to web-located shopping carts, both osCommerce and Zen Cart are free, meaning they’re liberated to download and employ to produce your store. But an email psychic reading selling remember that it’ll cost a minimum of some funds to make use of osCommerce or Zen Cart. Since they’re downloadable, both require hosting, design templates, possible additional security, a free account to process charge card orders, and add-ons to complete your shop. And based on your level of confidence dealing with code you may want to bring an artist and/or developer aboard.
Simplicity of use:
Champion: Zen Cart
Since neither osCommerce or Zen Cart are turnkey, cloud-based solutions, you’ll wish to pour coffee and create a substantial slice of time for you to spend in every cart’s admin before moving out. This is where you’ll craft your store’s design, add features, integrate shippers and payment processors, and add groups, products, and customers.
Within my research and testing of osCommerce I stumbled upon some reports of developers who’d little trouble installing the cart. But there are many more professionals who declare that, a minimum of following the install is finished, osCommerce is really a bear with regards to customizing, loading add-ons featuring, and making updates.
I discovered osCommerce’s admin to become an unwelcoming mixture of excessively complex and clunky and missed what I’m accustomed to since standards elements with lots of competitors, including easily filterable products and significant reporting data.
However, with Zen Cart’s admin I discovered it tough to understand wherever to join in. Almost twelve top level groups enter a lot more subcategories which should be easily folded into other areas from the admin. It appears like all backend element earned its very own drop lower tab in Zen Cart, including a choice value manager and music genre page.
It’s just a little ironic that Zen Cart arrives without lots of feature bloat, yet keeps a backend that’s filled with sections I can’t think of the average merchant will have to access.
But overall, Zen Cart provides a template system which makes establishing styles more intuitive, plus its products and groups are simple to input and keep.
Champion: Zen Cart
With osCommerce, the lion’s share of the store’s features can come via add-ons. Note these plug-ins vary in quality and easy installation. After dowloading osCommere, you’ll have immediate access to a number of features like multi-currency support, social tools, as well as an address book. Then anticipate to browse from numerous plug-ins to include additional functionality. And realize that generally, osCommerce’s backend inventory management could be complicated and it is Search engine optimization notoriously untidy, producing lengthy URLS which are not internet search engine friendly.
Zen Cart comes as they are with several more features than osCommerce. You’ll begin with the basics, including adding products (including dig downloads) and groups and defining shipping carriers, currency, and payment processors. I love that you will find sufficient helpful features to complete your store with Zen Cart–other these include newsletters, coupons, multiple language and currency support, product critiques, along with a product showcase–without getting to invest time installing lots of potentially difficult add-ons.
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Champion: Zen Cart
While you may make some fundamental alterations in osCommerce’s underwhelming templates, going beyond altering posts and fonts could be a complete headache. If you are no experienced designer or developer then believe me, you shouldn’t visit. And even though you may have mid-range coding skills it will take several making updates for your theme that will take virtually no time whatsoever to accomplish on another carts. I discovered osCommerce’s admin to become a counterproductive eyesore that’s difficult to search and navigate. Still, following a learning curve it will get the task done. Discover for yourself by looking into this demo from the backend.
Regrettably, you aren’t likely to do far better within the design department with Zen Cart’s frontend theme, but with respect to the products you sell or even the scope of the shop you might be able to brighten some misconception enough to make do via template alterations and buttons and graphics plug-ins. Zen Cart’s dated admin is way from clever and doesn’t provide a live editor or useful built-in reporting tools, but it’s a workhorse that newbies can start to understand with some time to training.
Take a look at styles submitted by osCommerce users here and free Zen Cart skins here. Then compare live osCommerce stores and live Zen Cart stores. It shouldn’t take lengthy to determine that, typically, Zen Cart’s (highly customized) choices are a great deal fresher and much more visually interesting than osCommerce has.
Integrations and Add-Ons:
Most major shopping cart software platforms maintain application stores that provide functionality additionally as to the comes as they are. Think marketing, Search engine optimization, and accounting tools. But couple of or no carts come anywhere near to maintaining the amount of integrations provided by osCommerce. Its add-on store is busting in the seams using more than 7,000 plug-ins which includes virtually any other imaginable. See the full database here.
While Zen Cart has already established a couple of less many years to accrue as numerous integrations as osCommerce, it provides users use of greater than 1,500 plug-ins, varying from worldwide shipping modules to admin, marketing, and language extras. We discuss Zen Cart’s extras in greater detail within our full review, and you should check out the Zen Cart plugins page here.
I gave osCommerce the win within the integrations bracket the way it offers so much more extras than Zen Cart. But I’m awarding it with some caution, which pertains to both carts, really: the standard and easy installation really varies. Because of so many free, community developed plug-ins you and your developer should anticipate to trobleshoot and fix integration hiccups–osCommerce users report trouble dealing with some add-ons, and Zen Cart users are cautioned to become careful about customizing plugins since they might be glitchy, particularly when upgrading to a different form of the woking platform.
Both osCommerce and Zen Cart support a far more than ample quantity of US-based and overseas merchant services and payment processors, including PayPal. Browse osCommerce’s current processor extensions, for example Authorize.internet, PAYMILL, and FirstData, here and Zen Cart’s, including Braintree, Dwolla, and Checkout by Amazon . com, here. Another general note about dealing with free shopping cart software platforms: You’ll wish to work with your developer or take special care you to ultimately maintain security and PCI compliance, since making certain safe shopping not just benefits your clients but additionally protects your company.
If you want help navigating the payment processor marketplace, take a look at our Credit Card Merchant Account Comparison page or call us for any consultation.
Customer Support and Tech Support Team:
Champion: Zen Cart
osCommerce users can look for solutions using a forum and documentation or search for more general PHP/mysql-related questions online. Additionally, if you opt to buy a $65 annual osCommerce “community sponsorship” you are able to submit tickets and garner use of live chat from 9 a.m. to six p.m. Central European Time (CET). That’s 3 a.m. to 9 a.m. EST, so anticipate to trobleshoot and fix in the center of the night time or morning hours.
As I like this osCommerce offers compensated live chat access (even when it winds up staying at very inconvenient occasions for all of us-based users) overall I discovered Zen Cart to possess better support sources. The forum is the best choice for getting an issue clarified rapidly by another person within the Zen Cart community. You may also search a wiki for instructions about installing, upgrading, and customizing your store. For those who have more questions, searching tutorials and FAQs, watch YouTube videos, or perhaps dig right into a thick instructions.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
Champion: Zen Cart
After hrs of research, testing, and gathering input from people who’ve interacted with platforms, a variety of common complaints emerged for osCommerce and Zen Cart I discovered outdoors source carts to talk about some common negatives: Repeating gripes from osCommerce and Zen Cart users focus on the platforms as well as their templates being outdated as well as their software excessively complex in comparison to various other lately folded out free carts like Spree Commerce and PrestaShop.
osCommerce developers reported several hacker attacks, including some that needed retailers to totally rebuild stores–these occurrences function as a good indication to strengthen security and backup your computer data. Other common osCommerce negatives include remedial Search engine optimization and spotty technical support.
Zen Cart users also report underwhelming Search engine optimization and marketing tools, couple of effective free mobile add-ons, and trouble maintaining stores using more than 1,000 products. Like osCommerce, Zen Cart users state that the cart could be buggy and it is difficult to upgrade without losing information.
If you wish to look for other complaints about osCommerce or Zen Cart, make sure to google osCommerce/Zen Cart reviews, osCommerce/Zen Cart complaints, osCommerce/Zen Cart comments, osCommerce/Zen Cart scam, osCommerce/Zen Cart testimonials, etc.
Positive Testimonials and reviews:
Champion: Zen Cart
The greatest positive facet of both osCommerce and Zen Cart? That one’s apparent: both platforms can download. Furthermore, users of every report liking the truth that osCommerce and Zen Cart maintain accessible forums.
osCommerce users are usually tolerant of the cart offering several 1000 add-ons, as well as better that lots of have the freedom. Others commented about how, a minimum of initially, cellular phone is straightforward for users with a few coding understanding and like this rather of coming with unneeded features it’s light and could be customized along the way.
However in comparison, Zen Cart users convey more praises to sing. May possibly not come be as polished and have as intuitive an admin as commercial competitors, but Zen Cart has some similar features without charging retailers a 1-time or fee every month. Users like this it’s customizable with lots of plug-ins and it is relatively stable, along with the proven fact that the cart offers choices for worldwide sales.
Champion: Zen Cart
For me, if you would like the opportunity to easily sell products on Facebook, rank highly without having to clock in lots of hrs of Search engine optimization work, and provide customers a method to purchase products from the store that’s been enhanced for tablets and smartphones, neither osCommerce or Zen Cart ought to be your most powerful contenders.
But when you would like the opportunity to totally personalize an outlet, manage hosting, and interact inside a community of developers trying to improve a shopping cart software under a wide open source umbrella that fosters collaboration and nimbleness, our two contenders might be for you personally.
osCommerce is simple to set up and received cred as a trendsetter if this launched greater than a decade ago. But it doesn’t offer as numerous built-in features as Zen Cart and stores created by osCommerce need to depend on deep customizations to prevent searching boxy and dated.
Zen Cart offers CSS-based templates that provide designers some versatility and for me turn it into a more appealing and reliable option for the developer crowd. Zen Cart is updated more osCommerce and offers clearer documentation and troubleshooting sources. Although both carts have obvious negatives, I discovered Zen Cart to provide less major design and simplicity of use challenges than osCommerce. It is also an inexpensive option if you are a moderately experienced developer, however a indication the benefit of a totally free download can put on off pretty rapidly if you need to fork hundreds of or several 1000s of dollars to a professional to be able to start filling orders.
You are able to download osCommerce here and Zen Cart here. I suggest making the effort to check drive both carts before figuring out if either may be the right match for the online shop. Out on another forget to look at our complete osCommerce and Zen Cart reviews for that full lowdown.