Hardware

Review: Zen Cart e-commerce application

Having a Web presence with a shopping cart has become standard fare for many businesses and enterprises. Zen Cart is an open source solution that is secure, feature-rich and ready to sell all of your products out of the box.

Having a Web presence with a shopping cart has become standard fare for many businesses and enterprises. But most shopping cart tools are either far too pricey or far too skimpy on their features. Zen Cart is the exception to both rules. Zen Cart is an open source solution that is secure, feature-rich and ready to sell all of your products out of the box.

Requirements

  • PHP 4.3.2 or higher (PHP 4.4.x for optimal performance)
  • Apache 1.3.x or higher
  • MySQL 3.2.x or higher
  • Additional information

Who's it for?

Zen Cart is perfect for any business that needs an on-line storefront that can grow as they do and does not require any costly fees or steep learning curve to use. Zen Cart is customizable through a robust administration tool as well as templates. Zen Cart is used across the globe by small, medium, and large businesses. For a sampling of who is using Zen Cart visit the Showcase Page.

What problem does it solve?

Zen Cart solves the problem of setting up and administering a Web shopping cart. Many shopping carts are complex to install and administer, whereas Zen Cart is as simple to set up and run as any Web-based software. Zen Cart also enables the store to expand as much as needed. There are no limitations to the amount/type of products to be sold with this tool.

Standout features

  • Simple product creation/update
  • Advanced and simple template system
  • PHP coding override protection (to protect any customizations during upgrade)
  • Many ways to mark a product ("free", "call for price", "featured", etc)
  • Products can be categorized and linked together
  • Pricing options (such as % off, fixed amount, new price, etc)
  • Minimum/Maximums
  • Quantity discounts
  • Categories and/or products can be easily disabled/enabled
  • Front end is highly configurable
  • Integrates with phpBB so you can add forums capabilities

What's wrong?

Although the installation of Zen Cart is simple, you will have to have a working knowledge of the Linux operating system - especially permissions. During installation you will have to edit the permissions of a number of files and directories just to get to the database configuration stage. Once you are at the database installation, make your life easier and use phpmyadmin to create your database.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

For the price, Zen Cart cannot be beaten. Not only is it free (and open source), it is robust, reliable, secure, and extensible. If you are looking for an outstanding solution for your shopping cart needs look no further than Zen Cart. It is a standalone shopping cart well suited for small- to large-sized businesses.

User rating

Have you encountered Zen Cart? If so, what do you think? Rate the unit and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review of Zen Cart in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review above.

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About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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