Features Included in Zen Cart Release v1.1+ Improved Template System - changes can be made to the basic style using only the stylesheet and a few images. No php coding neccessary. More extensive modifications can be made with a simple template override. Changing from one installed template to another is as simple as a couple of clicks in the Admin. New Merchandise Pricing Options - In addition to being able to put single items on Special, there are now dozens of options for sales. Percentage off, fixed amount off, or make a new price. Include or exclude the product attributes, add a discount to a Special, put a whole category or the whole store on sale! Plus Free/Call for price. Minimum or Maximun Quantities and Units - Want to sell only one 1 per customer or require at least 4 and in units of 2? Now you can set your requirements on a per product basis. New Attributes and Options - Radio buttons, checkboxes, dropdowns, text boxes, and uploads. Use any or all them to highlight the products options. Add option upcharges or price by your attributes. Plus, the 'Read Only' option for Features lists. New Attributes Controller - Add, remove, set sort orders, change your product options and features all in one place. Set your attributes properties, add images for your options, and set up your downloads from one convenient control panel. New Layout Settings - Choose your side column and box widths, Bread Crumb seperator, add a link to the Specials or New Products pages from the category menu and more from the Admin Tool. Down for Maintenance - Need to close the web site for a little sprucing up? Now you can! Settings to warn your customers about scheduled work and when the site is not available. Multiple IP override for the webmaster or designer. New Email Options - If you need to send copies of the shop's emails to other departments for records or order fullfillment the settings are easy to make in the Admin. You now have a dropdown contact list available from the the catalog's Contact Us form. Improved Design and Features for Product Information - In the Admin (Configuration > Product Info), you now have the option of configuring whether to show or not show nearly every piece of information about your product. Add multiple images in multiple sizes. Coupled with the attributes display options, you should be able to give your customer more than enough information to make their buying decision. Agree to Terms - A verification for Agreement to the Terms of Service has been added for compliance with new laws regarding privacy and disclosure. CVV2 - The additional credit card verification number field has been added to the Basic Credit Card module for compliance with most Merchant Agreements. This feature is switchable in the Admin. More Shipping Options - Need to have your customer pick up their items or delivery it free in a certain area, Zen Cart can do it. Sidebox Options - Turn them on or off, switch their columns and change the sort order with the handy Layout Boxes Controller. Never have to touch the code again. Demonstration Mode - Allows visitors to view the admin, make changes and test the program but, protects the most sensitve areas from abuse. Full admin level access available even in Demo Mode. Improved Search - Search the products by name and in the description by default.Visit publisher site: Zen Cart
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Once one of the real power-house e-commerce scripts, Zen Cart has fallen considerably behind other similar projects. While still quite capable, one really needs to have a firm grasp of PHP and CSS to appreciate its internals and to get the most out of it. It is geared more to the hard-core geek than the business person looking to get online quickly with a reasonably customized shop. Zen Cart has a comprehensive feature set, but several modern must-haves are lacking such as guest (no account) checkout. While many add-on modules (most of which are free) are available to add additional capability, they can be confusing to install and often conflict with other add-on modules. There is also little or no quality control of these extras. Security is quite good and security related patches are released in a very timely fashion. However, these patches are not rolled into the distribution kit and need to be added immediately after install of a new instance of the cart. Not being aware of the need to do this has resulted in many new shops being hacked shortly after being installed. There is a very active support forum with many volunteers willing to help both newcomers and advanced users alike. Zen Cart has also become one of the most secretive and "closed" open source projects around. Any new development is done in complete secrecy by the project owners who refuse to divulge any useful information about the status of the project beyond such flippant and condescending remarks such as "you'll get it when you get it..." This puts Zen Cart firmly in the "hobby" class for those who'd love to hack such a lovely script. There are more modern and open scripts available for serious business.
I would have to agree w/ the previous 2 folks. I had a major problem with the Pay Pal module and the support forums where okay (thanks to a particular member that really helped out) but if that guy is goes on vacation, forget it! The admin is overly complicated and the templating system is just too much! There are other free options that are easier to use, including the cart Zen Cart is derived from. Being an open Source app and and free is cool, but client support is more important.
Zen-Cart is an excellent shopping cart/ecommerce solution due to the numerous administration functions it provides. It allows you to create multiple looks that you can easily switch between by picking from the template list. I like its product options capabilities that allow me to offer different colors, sizes, configurations, etc. and display an option picture and description next to a radio button, checkbox, or dropdown list. I also like its multiple image capabilities that automatically look for additional images based on the file name without having to populate the database with a filename for every image. Zen-Cart has advanced capabilities beyond other open source scripts and the Zen team already has plans for new versions that other cart developers have never considered implementing. Zen-Cart evolves much faster than some of the other open source projects that I have looked into. Its developers thrive on a community effort and by helping others out. I starting using Zen-Cart back in October 2004 and sure it had some bugs, but not any more than scripts that I have paid for. Sure there were so many options that it seemed almost insurmountable to be able set up the functionality that I wanted, but I know I can't just click on one button and expect to know how to do everything by brain osmosis. Overall Zen-Cart is definitely the premier open source ecommerce solution, but it’s not for those that want something turn-key while someone holds your hand. You can easily run into problems installing it and configuring it if you have never installed or configured a PHP application on a webserver before or you are the type that “just does it” without taking the time to prepare or read instructions. I give it a 4 for functionality and usability and an extra point for being open source for a grand total rating of 5.
Not bad initially when you start to use it but when it came to configuring tax and VAT it is terrible! Menu Looping, nonsensical terminology and absolutely useless documentation. It may be free but it more than makes up for it in the costs of wasted time, stress and general anger at how badly designed software can be. Avoid unless you have a lot of time on your hands and an equal amount of patience.