PrestaShop vs Zen Cart – which ecommerce platform is better for your business? Read the article and learn about PrestaShop and ZenCart technical stack, pricing, customization features, and many other vital aspects.
Do you want to set up your online store? Is it possible to find the best ecommerce platform for it? There is a great number of solutions that can be used to make your business profitable.
Magento, Joomla, PrestaShop, ZenCart, OpenCart, Woocommerce. They have different pros and cons, benefits, prices.
In this article we will compare two ecommerce platforms – PrestaShop and ZenCart. You will learn about their technical requirements, hosting plans, customization, pricing, shipment integrations. Finally, you are able to choose the most suitable solution for your business. So, let’s describe these ecommerce platforms.
Table of сontents
Before considering in detail the essential features of PrestaShop and ZenCart, we should learn some basic information about these platforms.
What is PrestaShop?
It is an open-source ecommerce platform founded in 2005 in France. Today, there are around 270,000 online stores running on this solution. Why do many people choose PrestaShop? What are its benefits?
First, it is highly customizable and has impressive functionality. There is a great variety of Prestashop modules and themes to make your online store unique. Secondly, PrestaShop gives an opportunity to set up multiple stores and manage them from one admin panel. Another competitive advantage – it is perfect for any type of business – large, medium or small.
Moreover, PrestaShop is translated into over 75 languages and gives you an opportunity to run your shop internationally.
In addition, it offers a great number of features like item tracking and out of stock alerts. Moreover, PrestaShop has advanced SEO capabilities, for example, management of meta titles, descriptions and URLs.
And finally, the platform is highly scalable and user-friendly and can help store owners meet customers’ miscellaneous needs and expectations from the shopping experience.
What is ZenCart?
Founded in 2003, Zen Cart was one of the very first ecommerce platforms to offer a layout system based on templates. It’s one of the few that’s free and open-source, and has a large and active community online.
It is highly customizable and completely free to download. ZenCart is distributed under GPL2, a widely-used free software license. Zen Cart will be a perfect suite for sellers who have access to tech support. It will also be a good choice for medium or large businesses. The platform follows a core+extensions model. There are many features: admin, marketing, products, shipment, SEO and international ones.
Zen Cart key features:
- Various payment gateways
- Different templates to customize your store
- Detailed descriptions of products, including images and pricing
- Customized e-commerce shopping cart
- Various discounts or coupon codes
- Advertisements and banners to promote goods
- Multi-tier and promotional pricing
- Meta tags for your products
- Product reviews
- Stock management
- Thumbnail creation
- Report generation
- Newsletter functionality
- Gift certificates
There is an opportunity to add more features with a great number of third-party modules available for free download.
Every ecommerce platform has specific technical configurations without conforming to which the shop will not work properly. You should pay attention to them considering which platform to choose for your online store.
PrestaShop technical requirements
The latest version, PrestaShop 1.7, has the following configurations:
- Source code: PHP 7.1 or newer.
- Supported databases: MySQL (min 5.0 version, recommended – 5.6 or newer).
- Supported web server: Apache Web Server (recommended 2.2 or newer).
- Supported operating system: Windows, Mac and Linux
- Supported browsers: Browser support in PrestaShop mostly depends on the installed theme.
- Hosting: self-hosted and the most popular hosting providers are A2, BlueHost, SiteGround, etc.
ZenCart technical requirements
ZenCart is constantly working on improving its versions making them more convenient for customers and merchants. For maximum compatibility, it is highly recommended to use the latest ZenCart version. It has several requirements:
- Source code: PHP 5.5 to PHP 7.3
- Zen Cart requires CURL to be installed into PHP with OpenSSL.
- PHP Modules used by Zen Cart are: curl, mysqli and zlib.
- Supported databases: MySQL 5.1 to 5.7,
- Supported web server: Apache web server (recommended 2.4 or 2.2)
- Supported operating system: Linux, macOS, Windows
- Supported browsers: Browser support in ZenCart depends on the installed theme.
Hosting & hosting plans
Hosting plays an important role in choosing an ecommerce platform. There is a great number of hosting plans which have advantages and disadvantages. You should take into consideration all pros and cons and choose the right solution for your business.
Let us compare the hosting plans for PrestaShop and Zen Cart.
Using PrestaShop, you’ll have to take care of web hosting for your online shop on your own. The hosting depends on the chosen plan. There are a great variety of hosts: InMotion, BlueHost, Liquid Web, A2, SiteGround, etc.
Let’s describe the most popular ones.
- BlueHost is very convenient in use. It includes one-click installation for PrestaShop, and has a standard cPanel for managing your website.
- In addition, trained experts, guides and video tutorials are available 24/7.
- You are able to get access to marketing services, tools, and paid ad credits to improve your website’s global reach.
- A great number of plans for sites of any sizes
- Industry-leading 24/7 support
- Free domain and SSL certificate
- Green servers and max speed zones
- Excellent server speed and stability
- 24/7 highly trained and helpful industry – leading support
- Reasonable prices and outstanding products quality
- Perfect if you are migrating an existing store or have high traffic levels
- 100% power uptime guarantee
- Variety of high-performance plans
So, you are able to choose any PrestaShop hosting plan that will improve your business and meet customer needs and requirements.
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The platform will run on almost any host. The shared server hosting plan can be installed using Softaculous, or manually.
Zen Cart has minimal requirements which most Linux-based web hosts will meet. Your server needs to operate on a standard “LAMP” stack (Linux operating system, Apache web server, and support for MySQL and PHP).
It is possible to choose a great number of hosts for Zen Cart. Let’s describe the most popular.
SiteGround’s website promotes various hosting types: they offer shared, WordPress, cloud, and dedicated plans. Customers take advantage of free Cloudflare CDNs and SSL certificates. And their shared plans have a great number of features: they are cost-effective and will be perfect both for individuals and small business.
SiteGround is best known for excellent customer support. In addition, its servers are rock solid.
- Official WordPress-recommended host
- Outstanding 24/7 support
- Very fast servers
Its hosting plans offer a free domain name, unlimited resources, very fast SSD drives, and an industry-leading 90-day money-back satisfaction guarantee. In addition, they provide a free SSL certificate and unlimited email accounts. Moreover, there is a special tool Softaculous for free 1-click installs of applications such as Zen Cart. Web Hosting Hub aims are to provide reliable, scalable, and affordable solutions designed to meet all your needs.
All WebHostinghub plans provide:
- A free domain name
- Unlimited solid-state storage
- Free SSL certificate
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Unlimited email accounts and inboxes
- Easy Site Management With cPanel
- Script Installations using Softaculous
You have the opportunity to upgrade or downgrade your plan at any time.
- Industry-leading server speeds
- Uptime commitment to reduce lost business due to outages
- Plans with different features to suit sites of any size
- There is no free domain
- Requests for support of new technology accepted, but there is no ETA
A2 Hosting cost almost the same as SiteGround. However, it has optional Turbo Servers for up to 20x-faster loading speeds and advanced Zen Cart support. You’ll get one-click installations of Zen Cart from your control panel and automatic email notification when a new version can be installed. In addition to this, a pro-rated refund is possible if you decide their hosting is not suitable.
So, we can say that many web hosts will support Zen Cart. Moreover, they provide easy software one-click installation. If you choose Zen Cart to run your ecommerce site, consider going with a company that specializes in hosting developed for this platform. They may offer pre-installation of the software as well.
Custom development cost
If you want your ecommerce business to succeed, you will need to hire professional developers and designers. Qualified professionals’ hourly rate varies from country to country.
Let’s overview of the PrestaShop and ZenCart price of development.
PrestaShop development rates
The highest rates we can see in the USA – $120-125. In the UK, the prices are considerably lower – around $70. If we consider European countries, we can see that developers in different regions earn from $60 to 80.
In Asia and South America there are lower development cost ($35 and $15-20 respectively). As for the PrestaShop development agencies, we must admit that hourly rate is higher for each region due to their more professional approach.
US agencies costs vary from $20 to $50. UK companies have different rates depending on customer needs – from $20 to 130. We can observe considerably lower costs in South America: $5-20. In Asia, customers will pay about $10-20.
The following rates can change depending on customer requirements. Agencies hourly rate will be different in each country. So, if you need high-skilled work, choose a reliable agency.
ZenCart development rates
ZenCart development rates vary depending on the country and on the project’s features. Let’s consider them in detail.
In the USA we can observe different prices depending on customer needs: around $50-80. The UK rates vary from $15 to 30. European developers earn approximately $20-25. In South America, the prices are around $15 – 30. The lowest costs 12-20$ can be found in Asia.
What comes to ZenCart development agencies, we can see some differences depending on the regions, products difficulties, customer requirements. In the US agencies we can see various prices approximately $10-25 depending on the projects. United Kingdom customers should pay near $15- 20. In some companies, the rates can increase up to $120. In Europe, the rates are about $15-20, depending on the region. In Asian agencies, the prices are the lowest – around $10-15.
The development rates may also vary depending on clients needs and desires.
To customize your online store is highly recommended if you wish to meet customers expectations and needs. Customization may include changes of the visual design, selecting topics of interest to reflect the users’ desires. Ecommerce platforms provide free or paid modules, templates, extensions for a professional design of your store. Let’s compare the customization capabilities of ZenCart and PrestaShop.
Being an open source platform, PrestaShop enables developers to change and improve PHP source code and make individual settings for your online shop. However, without technical experience, you have the opportunity to improve PrestaShop functionality using various modules and extensions.
It is possible to find them at the PrestaShop marketplace. With the help of simple menu, filter and navigation, it is easy and convenient to see all extensions in the category.
PrestaShop modules (about 4,000) are divided into 10 categories:
- Product Page
- Design & Navigation
- Promotions & Marketing
- Traffic & Marketplaces
- Shipping & Logistics
- Facebook & Social Networks
- Specialized Platforms
The platform offers 1300+ templates, both free and paid. You can take advantage of them for your store professional design.
There is an opportunity to filter them by category, colour, rating, extended functionalities, style and platform version.
PrestaShop offers a variety of templates categories:
- Fashion & Shoes
- Electronics & Computers
- Food & Restaurant
- Drink & Tobacco
- Home & Garden
- Jewellery & Accessories
- Health & Beauty
PrestaShop Modules and Themes
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ZenCart integrations & add-ons
To customize your website and attract more clients, you are able to use a great variety of Zen Cart add-ons. If you don’t have any experience, you may need web designers and developers to improve your site. For impressive functionality, you’ll need to take advantage of a rich collection of extensions.
Let us look at the main categories of Zen Cart add-ons and integrations:
- Admin Tools
- Buttons and Graphics
- Language Packs
- Marketing Tools
- Other Modules (Miscellaneous Plugins)
- Payment Modules
- Pricing Tools
- Privacy and Conditions Statements
- Product Types
- Shipping Modules
- Template Alterations
- Template Packages – Responsive Design and Legacy
- Troubleshooting Tools
- Geographic Zones
When you choose an ecommerce platform for your business, pay attention to its multilingual capabilities. You will have a more profitable and successful online store with a great variety of languages. There will be a wonderful opportunity to set up and manage multiple stores with a wide choice of goods all over the world.
Let’s take into consideration and compare PrestaShop and Zen Cart.
PrestaShop multilanguage configuration
PrestaShop is available in 75 languages which can be added from the admin panel. It works in over 130 currencies and in more than 45 countries. PrestaShop multistore capabilities enable you to create separate stores in various languages. The platform helps a store owner to build business relationships with customers from different countries.
ZenCart multilanguage configuration
The platform offers 25 languages, like English, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Polish, etc. If you need to manage your website not in English, download and install a new language pack. So, it is very simple and convenient to set up and manage an online store. This will improve your business and engage in customer experience.
When choosing the right ecommerce platform, you should take into consideration its cost. Despite being free to download and use, PrestaShop and Zen Cart need extra payments for add-ons and extensions. Moreover, hosting and customization can be rather expensive. If you do not have tech assistance on staff, you need to hire professional developers and designers to improve your website and enhance the customer experience.
This ecommerce platform is free to download. However, there are some additional costs, which may not be expected. For example, you will have to pay for hosting and domain registration. In addition, if you don’t have enough tech experience, you will have to pay developers and designers for creating and improving your online store.
Moreover, PrestaShop offers modules, themes and extensions, but most of them are not free. The prices may vary depending on their functions and features. It is possible to find free add-ons, but most of them are paid for and cost $30-50.
Sometimes, the cost can be increased by $80-100 for more advanced modules. More sophisticated add-ons, aimed at large companies, have the highest rates of $250-550.
You can see different prices on various themes. The cheapest templates are around €45-60. Others will cost more, for example, you will have to pay €120-130 for CreaNatural, Mobile Communication, Pharmacy. The most expensive ones will be around €300.
Finally, PrestaShop offers different support plans for open source at additional costs depending on customer requirements.
There is no fee for using ZenCart. You can download and use in the terms of the license, for free. However, you are encouraged to donate to help support the ongoing development and improvement of the product. In addition, you may need developers knowledge and skills to help you customize your store, if you don’t have enough experience. And you will pay them some money.
Moreover, you will have to pay for web hosting and a domain name, as well as an SSL certificate. Additional expenses come in the form of add-ons and third-party templates.
Payment gateways support
For online stores, payment system and methods are very important. It is essential to select ecommerce platform with great payment gateways support. It will save your time and offer flexibility in the payment types customers can use. As a result, customer experience will be engaged.
Let’s find out which payment gateways are supported by PrestaShop and Zen Cart.
Alternative checkout support
As you can see, PrestaShop ecommerce platform offers more payment gateways than Zen Cart (13 and 12 respectively). However, it is possible to get free add-on of PayPal Payflow Pro and Offline processing, if you choose Zen Cart.
In addition, alternative checkout support is provided by both platforms. PrestaShop has 4 variants, like Amazon FPS, Google Checkout, etc. ZenCart offers 3 solutions. And you can take advantage of free add-ons of Checkout by Amazon and Google Checkout.
Shipment integrations options
Every ecommerce platform should provide shipment integrations. PrestaShop and Zen Cart have a lot of shipping integration options. You are able to find many helpful configurations for handling products, carrier selection, custom prices, etc. in the Shipping section of PrestaShop admin panel.
Let us compare shipment integrations of Zen Cart and PrestaShop.
So, as you can see, there are a lot of shipment integrations variants provided by the ecommerce platforms. The benefit of Zen Cart is that it offers free add-ons of DHL, FedEx, United States Postal Service, UPS. So, it will be cost-effective to choose this platform. It will be perfect for small or medium business.
PrestaShop vs ZenCart – what should you choose?
All in all, choosing the right platform for your ecommerce business is rather complicated. PrestaShop and Zen Cart have a great variety of pros and cons and it is quite difficult to tell which one offers more benefits and opportunities for running your business.
- Both platforms are free to download and use. However, there will be some additional costs on hosting and domain registration. In addition, to customize your store, you will need developers and designers experience. Moreover, there are various add-ons that may be quite expensive.
- Zen Cart is perfect for merchants who have access to tech support. The platform provides no customer support. It offers only some self-help options.
- Zen Cart has a great number of features: admin, marketing, products, shipment, etc. Moreover, you have access to free third-party modules. PrestaShop has advanced SEO capabilities and offers a wide choice of modules, extensions and themes. However, some of them are quite expensive.
- You should choose Zen Cart for a medium or large business. PrestaShop is perfect for any size of business.
- PrestaShop is available in 75 languages and it is possible to add them from the admin panel. ZenCart offers only 25 languages. With PrestaShop ecommerce platform, it is more convenient to create and run your online store internationally. There is an opportunity to attract customers from different countries and make your business successful.
- Both ecommerce platforms provide payment gateways support. However, PrestaShop offers more payment gateways than Zen Cart. But, if you want to get free add-ons of them, select Zen Cart.
- PrestaShop has several shipment integration alternatives. However, it will be money-consuming to choose Zen Cart, because it offers free add-ons of shipment variants.
So, considering all the features of PrestaShop and Zen Cart, we hope you will be able to decide which ecommerce platform is better for your business. You should take into account all the pros and cons and find the best solution to run your online store successfully.
Which ecommerce platform – ZenCart or PrestaShop – do you think will suit your business the most? Let’s discuss in the comments!