Compare OpenCart vs ZenCart; Which eCommerce platform is the right for you

Opencart vs Zencartcomparison
Posted on 19.12.2017
Written by Eva Ciga



There is no denying; the need to move products and services online is a strategy that has taken the business world by storm. More and more merchants are reacting to this emergent trend with serious effort to satisfy the needs and wants of their customers in the most effective way. The growing need has been met by an influx of e-commerce platforms into the market. The diversity of the e-commerce solutions is huge, and merchants have a plethora of viable selections to choose from.  

Each shopping cart platform is fighting to reign, and this has contributed to the confusion engulfing the business strategies of many entrepreneurs. There is a wide array of beneficial solutions, but today we focus on OpenCart and ZenCart. If you can’t choose between these two popular platforms, keep reading our unbiased analysis for a priceless guidance.  


Our analysis begins with the similarities between these platforms.  

  • Open source in nature:

OpenCart and ZenCart are open-source e-commerce platforms. They offer incredible flexibility and allow users to add features not included in the default versions or extend and customize the existing ones.  

The open source nature is more of an advantage to Zencart users than OpenCart. This is because ZenCart doesn’t provide visually appealing or professional looking templates. The ability to customize the templates is a welcome relief for any merchant intending to use ZenCart. In addition, you will have the freedom to download and implement templates from the template packages provide for free by the ZenCart community. Whats more; there are buttons & graphics and templates alterations which help you to change the minor aspects of your store design.  

  • Pricing: 

Both Opencart and Zencart are free to download, update and use. However, Zencart has a slight edge over OpenCart because it is entirely free and comes with a GPL2 license. This means the user will have the freedom to upgrade the software as they please without incurring any extra cost. On the other hand, OpenCart is free but has a cloud-based version which has a quote based pricing format.  

“Free” can be a tricky word in the business world. Although these platforms are free, the user is responsible for their hosting and security. Therefore, the most basic expenses one is likely to incur include; a domain name, SSL certificate, and web hosting fee.  Besides, you will incur other expenses in the form of plugins and extensions as your store expand.  


The difference between OpenCart and ZenCart provide a deeper insight into their pros and cons. These are the things that will most likely influence your decision.  

  • Ease of use:

OpenCart has an advantage over Zencart because it provides a free demo. Although the demo is limited, it allows users to try both the storefront and admin end before downloading the full software version. The free trial gives users a glimpse of what to expect and contribute immensely to the ease of setup and use.  

On the other hand, ZenCart doesn’t provide a free trial, and this is because the product is completely free. Setting up ZenCart can be difficult especially if you are not tech savvy. It requires a lot of effort and sometimes without the help of an experienced developer, it can be a daunting task.  

  • Server requirements: 

Both OpenCart and ZenCart differ slightly in terms of their server requirements. OpenCart requires you to strictly meet all its server requirements for your store to operate properly. When installing this platform, a web server like Apache must be created to successfully avail the OpenCart store publicly. You must also select a hosting provider with PHP5.2, Curl, and MySQL. In addition, this software requires a fully functional online/hosted operation system.  

On the other hand, ZenCart requires a fully functional Windows OS to operate optimally. Besides, running this platform requires Apache 1.3.38 or above, PHP4.3 or higher, Curl, and MySQL 3.2.X or higher. Although ZenCart works properly on the Windows /IIS server, it delivers the best results when operating on the Apache/Linux servers. 

  • Features: 

Zencart is the perfect solution for the now tech savvy. It brings increased flexibility and simplified installation which enables users to easily handle multiple product features including; Optimized URLs, WYSISYG editor, drag and drop design, breadcrumb navigation, and dedicated IP address.  

In addition, the platform provides powerful marketing and promotion tools which include; email list management, affiliate program support, newsletter, gift cards, and coupons. Unfortunately, English is the only language version supported by ZenCart. Although the platform has a plethora of features, the lack of innovative plugins is a major drawback. Also, the available extensions and plugins are complicated, and it may take time to introduce an upgrade.  

On the other hand, OpenCart provides all the basic features required to run a successful online store. It also gives users the freedom to customize the features to suit their requirements and personal preferences. The platform offers a superb array of features which include; bulk image support, unlimited products & categories, multistore support, digital goods, and daily backup. Managing business on OpenCart is pretty easy thanks to the built-in SEO which is designed to impact the traffic rates positively. In addition, OpenCart provides loads of modules and extensions which help to expand the functionalities of your online store.   

  • Security 

Security is paramount for every successful online store. If your store observes stringent security measures, it will easily win the trust of the potential customers. It encourages customers to complete transactions without the fear of losing personal or card information.  

OpenCart takes the lead in terms of security. The platform offers additional security features including; dedicated SSL, FTP access database caching, daily backup, data encryption, and PCI compliance. The functionalities enable your online store to provide a secure environment for your customers. Its compatibility with the different SSL certificates assures customers of their security. Besides, OpenCart has a proper access authority that allows you to protect the shopping cart and administration panel with passwords.  

On the other hand, ZenCart security is not completely rigid since it only offers Daily backup, FTP access, and PCI compliance only.  

  • Payment gateways

In terms of the pricing features, OpenCart has a richer set which includes; cash on demand payments, live shipping quotes, money orders, discount management, multicurrency, and pricing per customer group.  

Besides, the software supports up to 36 inbuilt payment gateways which include; PayPal, Skrill,, and others. However, the support for credit card payments and other payment gateways goes well beyond that. Even though not inbuilt into OpenCart, several providers offer OpenCart plugins for payments, some of which are free, like for example Areto Systems. A quick download from github with a 4-step instructions text file is more than ample to get you going. 

ZenCart’s set of pricing features is limited to discount management and multicurrency which can be a major inconvenience to some customers. Furthermore, its payment gateways include; Skrill,, PayPal and others. Same for ZenCart – although not inbuilt, one can easily enough download any ZenCart payment gateway plugin. Areto Systems offers ready plugin which you can easily just download and use on your site, on the top of that Areto Systems provide you with low rates, premium payment gateway, and free marketing tools for your business.

  • Shipping: 

Shipping is a very important feature of any e-commerce business. For your store to run successfully, you must give your customers a number of shipping modules to choose from. The broader the options, the better. 

OpenCart provides shipping options which are integrated with shipping prices, USPS price lookup, weight calculator, and tax by state/country. It supports shipping options including; drop shipping, Flat rate shipping, weight-based shipping, and product-specific tax rules. In addition, it has integration with world-renowned postage methods including; Australian Post, Citylink, Royal Mail, Parcelforce, FedEx, and more.  

ZenCart provides limited shipping features which include international postage fee lookup and FedEx price lookup. However, the platform allows users to add their own options and integrate with the major international carriers. In addition, it has a shipping estimator designed to give customers an estimate of the shipping cost before they check out.  

  • Customer service and support: 

Good customer service is an invaluable pillar to the success of e-commerce merchant. The level of support you get from the platform means a lot especially when you are starting out. If you are a beginner with no experience in online selling, you should pay close attention to this feature.  

OpenCart provides a host of options that allow users to seek help. The options include; phone, email, user manual, knowledge base, blogs, videos, online self-serve, and request form.  

On the other hand, ZenCart support is sustained by the community of developers who have invested in the platform. New users can get help via forums, user manual, facebook, Zen Cart Wiki, tutorials, and FAQs. The lack of phone, email, and online support is one of its major drawbacks.  


From our analysis, it’s evident that each platform has its pros and cons. Your best choice will depend on the personal preference and your business needs. ZenCart is an ideal solution for any merchant looking to open and manage an online store for customers in English speaking regions. If you have the technical skill and knowledge to customize the site, go for ZenCart. The platform is also surrounded by an outstanding community of developers and is an excellent choice for medium-sized businesses.  

However, if you are not tech savvy and are looking for a platform to help you manage your store easily, Opencart is an invaluable choice. It offers superb customer services and will hold your hand with incredible technical support. OpenCart makes it easier to set up a unique online store and is perfect for small to medium businesses.  

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