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Magento vs Zen Cart – What Solution is the Best?

Dec 4, 2019

1769 Dasha M.

Magento vs Zen Cart – What Solution is the Best?

Looking for a functional platform to launch your online business? Can’t choose between Magento 2 and Zen Cart? Get to know all the details about each ecommerce platform and pick the best one for your online store.

Here you will find out everything about popularity, hosting, ease-of-use, features, pricing, and Magento vs Zen Cart themes and extensions. Read the article to learn more and let your business grow with us.

What is Magento?
What is Zen Cart?
How Popular is Magento vs Zen Cart?
What is Magento vs Zen Cart Hosting?
Are Magento and Zen Cart Easy to Use?
What are Magento and Zen Cart Features?
What are Magento and Zen Cart Extension & Themes?
Magento vs Zen Cart Security & Support
Magento vs Zen Cart Pricing

What is Magento?

Want to find out more about Magento? The platform is highly popular among online retailers. The company was founded over ten years ago and over time has released two remarkable platform versions – Magento 1 and Magento 2. It has come a long way to become one of the leading ecommerce software globally. Magento is currently recognized as the most comprehensive ecommerce solution and a reliable platform for businesses of all sizes and shapes.

So, what is Magento? Magento is an open-source ecommerce platform [1]. It provides online businesses with powerful marketing, management, and SEO tools. Using Magento, you are able to develop a functional custom website suitable for the specific needs of your online business. It is an ideal platform for companies that need a professional online store designed according to the latest trends.

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What is Zen Cart?

Zen Cart is a great solution for managing an online store without difficulties. The platform was launched in 2003 and gained high recognition in the ecommerce industry. It has branched from osCommerce and overcame lots of changes, as well as received three major releases and a couple of minor ones since the time. Zen Cart has also become one of the first companies to use a template-based layout system.

Zen Cart is a long-term Magento competitor and has much in common with it. As well as Magento Zen Cart is an open-source ecommerce platform. It is a user-friendly and easy to set up solution which can be used by all online retailers. Zen Cart can be customized and its level of functionality makes it a good choice for either startups or mid-scale companies. The platform provides quite many in-built features and some useful shipment, admin and product management plugins can be installed.

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Magento vs Zen Cart Comparison

What is better Magento 2 or Zen Cart? Choosing the ecommerce platform, the business owner should analyze all the distinguishing features, compare functionality, support and customization level. The right platform can boost your sales, increase profit, and power the business in the right direction. If you make a wrong choice from the beginning, later on, you may need to spend money and time migrating to another platform.

How Popular is Magento vs Zen Cart?

The excellent reputation and growing community are the main signs of platform efficiency. A retailer is more likely to choose an ecommerce platform trusted by the world’s leading brands. When a widely recognized brand runs the site on Magento or Zen Cart, growing companies can trust this CMS too.

Magento 2 is one of the most popular ecommerce platforms globally which is widely used in North America and Western Europe. It is a leading ecommerce platform in over 110 countries, including the United States, Netherlands, United Kingdom, and Germany. While Zen Cart as a long-live ecommerce solution, that covers mostly Eastern countries. The platform is a popular choice in Japan, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Russia, and 21 other countries.

Magento 2 is a reliable ecommerce platform for lots of fashion, sports equipment, jewelry e-stores, and many other brands. Over 200,000 business owners run their online stores on Magento, including top brands like HP, Ford, Monin, Samsung, Helly Hansen, and many more. While Zen Cart is popular among growing companies and startup, and it powers over 16,000 webstores.

Magento vs Zen Cart

What is Magento vs Zen Cart Hosting?

Hosting is one of the points where Magento 2 and Zen Cart are similar. Both platforms are self-hosted. What does it mean? Well, a self-hosted store resides on a separate server. You need to purchase the hosting plan by one of the third-party provides or set it up on your own server.

Self-hosting has lots of benefits, including full control over a website for a business owner, the ability to install custom themes, complete access to back-end data. On the other hand, you are responsible for the platform’s maintenance and upgrades. In case your developer knowledge and skills are not enough to take care of it yourself, the third-party dedicated teams can carry out hosting setup and support for your Magento or Zen Cart online store. However, standard Zen Cart hosting costs less than Magento one.

Are Magento and Zen Cart Easy to Use?

The first thing for every online retailer to keep in mind is that an ecommerce platform’s capabilities should be able to fulfil business goals. However, no less important is to decide if you need a solution that your team can handle on their own or more powerful one that may require additional help from third-party developers.

Launching a new store on Zen Cart is a great choice if you aren’t a CMS expert or developer and want to launch an online store fast. The platform is user-friendly and easier to handle for beginners than many others. It provides all the basic tools to create an online store as well as some of the more advanced features. However, the level of customization and functionality yield to more complex platform options.

Ease of use and setup is an essential criteria if you are a non-expert and need to save time and money. But easy doesn’t always mean successful and it may limit the capabilities of an online store. Everything depends on your business’ needs. Magento is different compared to Zen Cart, it requires more expertise and developer knowledge to launch and manage a website. It is a more complex solution but it provides a wider range of in-built features and capabilities. The platform is suited for all kinds of businesses from small to large-scale companies which owners can hire a development team.

What are Magento and Zen Cart Features?

The user experience that your online store provides highly depends on your ecommerce platform’s features. When choosing between Magento and Zen Cart, functionality becomes one of the biggest deciding factors. Here we will list Magento and Zen Cart ecommerce features that you can easily check if the platform, that you consider using, possesses the necessary ones for your business.

What are the Magento features?

Magento is a corporate-level software which is primarily used by big companies and enterprises. This open source ecommerce platform combines rich functionality, outstanding performance, and a broad range of powerful integrated tools.

The key Magento 2 ecommerce features include:

  • Guest and registered users checkout
  • Shipping
  • Multiple product types
  • Multiple currencies and languages
  • Customer groups
  • Multi-tier pricing
  • Automatic image resize and watermarking
  • Configurable tax rules
  • Secure payments
  • Persistent shopping cart
  • Pricing and gift option customization
  • Product sorting and filtering
  • User permission management
  • Access to various reports
  • Mobile-responsiveness
  • Gifts and coupons
  • Products list creation

What are Zen Cart features?

Zen Cart is a good solution for growing online businesses. It offers everything necessary to giving a start to an online store and building the basis for its successful future growth. The main goal of this platform is to provide business owners with a simple ecommerce solution that makes store creation and maintenance easy.

Zen Cart has the following features:

  • Multiple currencies and languages support
  • User access management
  • Application programming interface
  • Advertising management
  • Discount management
  • Product catalog
  • Integrated SEO tools
  • Pricing configuration
  • One-time fees
  • Shipping integrations
  • Product reviews
  • Newsletter system
  • Upgrade options
  • Advance notifications
  • Customer group pricing

What are Magento and Zen Cart Extension & Themes?

Why are the extensions and themes critical for online store development? Plain website, that does not offer any interesting or useful functions, is unlikely to attract a lot of new customers and stand out among the competitors. Both Magento and Zen Cart a wide range of third-party extensions and themes that help business owners to customize their ecommerce websites making them truly unique. Below you can find out more about the plugins and templates that Magento 2 and Zen Cart offer as well as their average price.

What Extension & Themes does Magento Have?

The official Magento marketplace has over 5,500 free and paid extensions and 15 themes, available for downloading and using. You can filter extensions and themes according to the platform version – Magento 1 or Magento 2, edition – Magento Commerce or Magento OpenSource, maximum price and rating. Magento offers customer support, marketing, sales, site optimization, and other extensions. They are grouped into categories simplifying the search.

The average cost for a Magento extension is $100-200. The most expensive ones might cost up to $20,000, as well as some extensions are available for free. The price of Magento themes also differs – from $5 to $500. Third-party developers also offer some free themes on their marketplaces.

What are the Zen Cart Plugins & Themes?

The official Zen Cart marketplace offers many useful plugins but fewer, compared to the Magento list of extensions and themes. There you can find both free and paid solutions for downloading and installing. Zen Cart extensions are cheaper than those of Magento – the average cost of a plugin is around $70 while the average price for a theme on a third-party marketplace is about $35. Zen Cart offers a smaller list of plugins and templates but at a good price while Magento has a larger choice.

Magento vs Zen Cart Security & Support

When you choose an ecommerce platform, you definitely want the one that will protect you from any kind of security or technical issues. But you can’t forecast breakdowns, bugs or even a hacker attack, so proper support is a must for a good platform. It is one of the key criteria that can help you decide whether to use Magento 2 or Zen Cart.

Does Zen Cart Provide Support?

Zen Cart doesn’t offer official customer support and it means that to ensure fast-loading and smooth website performance, you may need to hire someone to carry out continuous support or install patches and updates from time to time. However, Zen Cart also offers an online beginners’ guide helping to develop and maintain an online store, as well as provides some self-help options. So, there is a chance that you will be able to figure out how to use the platform and install patches on your own.

Does Magento Provide Support?

Magento is serious about security and monitors the platform for weaknesses constantly. It has the Security Center where users can get the latest Magento patches and security updates. Magento has a Security Scan Tool to monitor websites for security risks and detects unauthorized access. Magento users also can check their stores installing third-party security tools. The platform provides also tech resources where developers can get information on the latest security practices.

Magento provides support only for Magento Commerce users. But if your online store runs on Magento 1, you need to know that the official support ends up in 2020, and there will be no more official updates and patches for the platform’s version. So, if your website is still running on Magento 1, you should think about migrating to Magento 2 as soon as possible.

Since Magento is much more widely used than Zen Cart, it has a strong growing development community. Many people are familiar with the solutions and offer support and maintenance services. If your platform works incorrect, you can visit Magento forums or find a development team or a freelancer to fix the issue and improve the performance. On the other hand, there are lots of wrong solutions online as well as fake experts. You always need to make sure that the developer knows how to work with the Magento platform before hiring a person or a team. Magento certifies its developers, so business owners can always look for the knowledge proofs [2].

Magento support

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Magento vs Zen Cart Pricing

Budget is one of the key factors when it comes to choosing an ecommerce platform. If you run a small business or a startup, you probably won’t look for an expensive solution with high scalability and customization options. But when your website needs more powerful tools and sophisticated design elements, you should invest more to let your business stand out among the top brands.

How much does Magento cost?

There are two versions of Magento – Magento Commerce and Magento Open Source which cost different amounts of money. Open source is free for download and there is also no monthly fee. It provides all significant tools you need to turn an unknown company into a successful online business. You enjoy global selling, site search, instant purchase, catalog management, integrated checkout, payment, and shipping configuration and other features. Using this platform, you pay for hosting and different custom solutions like special themes, and extensions if you decide to install them. Since Magento is not much of a beginner-friendly solution, when you don’t have any developer knowledge, you will also have to pay for Magento development and support.

If you are the owner of a large enterprise and need all-in-one Magento solution – Magento Commerce is the right choice. It is a paid Magento version which provides enhanced security, high functionality and scalability, as well as lots of integrations. It contains all of the Magento Open Source features and some more advanced ones like visual merchandising, business intelligence dashboards, advanced marketing tools and more. Magento Commerce costs from $23,000 per year or more, depending on the scale of business and annual revenue.

How much does Zen Cart cost?

Zen Cart is free for downloading ecommerce platform [3]. You may still need to hire a freelance developer or a dedicated team if you don’t want to overcome the development challenge on your own. However, website development and hosting for Zen Cart is cheaper than for Magento 2 and online store support requires fewer human resources.


It is not easy to provide a clear answer and decide which one is the best – Magento or Zen Cart because these ecommerce platforms are the solutions for businesses of different scales. Magento fits better with bigger companies since it is a more powerful and feature-rich option with more advanced security and customization level. While Zen Cart is easier to set up and use for an inexperienced user and the online store based on this platform will require less investment.

Both platforms are open-source and free for downloading platforms, but Magento also has a paid Commerce version with more features for large-scale businesses. Magento 2 and Zen Cart are self-hosted solutions, but if you are hosting Magento website, you will have to pay more.

Magento is much more widely used than Zen Cart and requires more technical expertise to manage. But you can easily communicate with a vast strong community of developers to get technical support. Zen Cart is a better solution for retailers who have a little tech experience and budget for website development.

Magento, compared to Zen Cart, provides more useful extensions and eye-catching themes, the level of customization is higher.

We hope that having considered all the in-built features of Magento and Zen Cart, you can pick up the one for your online business. Some retailers might choose Magento due to its great scalability, security, customization, others might need a cheaper solution with the basic tools to launch a small-scale company. But if you already have a strong business and need a solution with more powerful tools, you might need to transfer your Zen Cart store to Magento.

Which ecommerce platform is better – Magento 2 or Zen Cart? What would you choose for your online business? Share your ideas in the comments below!


Tatiana Buchkova
Partner With Us Looking for a partner to grow your business? We are the right company to bring your webstore to success. Talk to Tatiana

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