Difference Between Zen Cart and osCommerce

In this article, I’m going to share the major difference between Zen cart and osCommerce.

osCommerce is an other open source shopping software and available for free. It can work on any kind of server running PHP and MYSQL & IIS. When Zen cart developers were developing the cart there main focus was to integrate the functionality like osCommerce. You shouldn’t mix up zen cart with osCommerce they are different in their structures.

Zen cart has one drawback compared to osCommerce that it doesn’t have a huge collection of modules. But some third party contributions and developers are developing modules to enhance the functionality of zen cart. Now we should come to the feature comparison between these two.


Zen cart has better security system than osCommerce. The reason is that we can not use default installation of osCommerce in a production environment. We should have to customize osCommerce to tackle the security issues.

Zen cart’s default installation has better admin login authentication than osCommerce as osCommerce doesn’t have this features. But you can secure your admin area by using third party modules in osCommerce.

Contributed and Default Modules

By default, Zen cart doesn’t need any module because its already contains the all possible modules suitable for an online shop. As we have discussed before, its admin area is secured so we don’t have to use any other module.

On the other hand, osCommerce doesn’t have default modules after installation. But there are all type of third party modules available for osCommerce. One drawback is that, osCommerce official module system doesn’t have rating system to popularize and test the modules. So all the modules are available under no warranty.

Products and Categories Management

Both shopping cart software support nested level categories. Only different is that, Zen cart doesn’t allows the addition of category and products at the same time, but osCommerce does.

When we are adding new products in osCommerce it has a few fields but Zen cart has many fields. osCommerce just provides fields for wight, URL, image, model, quantity, description, price, tax class and availability date. But Zen cart has extra fields like to specify whether the product is physical or digital, priced by attributes, call for price, displaying of shipping address or not in case product is virtual and so on.

osCommerce doesn’t allow to specify the image directory or URL, they just have an option to upload the image. On the other hand, zen cart displays two options for uploading image: either upload image to a directory or existing image from anywhere else.

Zen cart has one extra functionality that osCommerce doesn’t have and that is “Product Type“. It means that we can define product type and can show each product type listing in a different layout. By default, zen cart has music and general product types.

Public Relations and Promotion

If you want to use functionality like product promotion or public relations you will have to use third party modules for adding this. But Zen cart has this functionality by default.

Programmatic Differences

As I described above, zen cart was developed mainly from the osCommerce code base but there is a huge difference in their programmatic structure. I’m explaining programmatic difference here, because understanding of these difference can solve your migration problems when you are migrating one cart to another cart software.

One difference is that osCommerce restricts you to keep on register_globals but Zen cart tells you to keep it off because of security reasons. If we are keeping on register_globals, we could face difficulty on running sites on some web servers that don’t allow register_globals to be on.

Naming conventions for classes and functions are different in both carts. osCommerce uses tep_ & osc_ prefix while zen cart uses zen_ prefix.

Another difference is that zen cart utilizes 93 database tables while osCommerce uses 54 tables. Zen cart’s products table contains 35 fields but osCommerce’s products table has 12 fields.

To run a query against a database, zen cart uses $db->Execute() function and then while() loop. But osCommerce uses tep_db_query() then while() loop.

These are the main difference between osCommerce and Zen Cart. I hope you will like this article.

Duan Lingxin

Content crafter and chief editor at Scratching Info. Also regular contributor on other major online tech platforms. Security Specialist by day and a writer by night, he does his best to instill his knowledge about tech while delivering inspiring and life changing resources through his writing,

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1 thought on “Difference Between Zen Cart and osCommerce”

  1. Thanks for such an informative posting! Both Zen Cart and osCommerce are shopping carts with easy store management. osCommerce will be a nice solution for those merchants, who don’t have an experience in online store development. While Zen Cart provides a capability to site with the help of template system. It is rather difficult to choose one of them. In order to make a right decision, you can look through one more article goo.gl/YyB2w with detailed comparison of both carts.


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