Free Shopping Cart – Create an Online Store With Zen Cart

If you’re looking for a free shopping cart that has more features than many of the paid solutions look no further than Zen Cart. It’s a free download and is often included in your hosting plan. This means you can install it from fantastico within cpanel with one click.

Here are some of the main benefits I discovered:

1. Inexpensive

It’s free to install but you need to set up a hosting account.

2. Easy installation

Once you have unzipped and uploaded all the files to your server you just need to change permissions for several directories, insert the install URL in your browser then follow the instructions for installing Zen Cart.

3. Easy customization

If you’ve already designed your own template you can create a basic custom template first then customize it by editing the style sheet and using the admin panel that comes with your installation. The admin panel allows you to turn off the right or left columns, right or left sideboxes, banners etc.

It takes a it of time to learn how to do this but once you’ve done it it gets faster.


Zen Cart is not a backend solution ie you can’t just add some html code to your custom designed template. You must either use their own termplates or create one of your own. Zen Cart is a front end and back end solution for a creating a complete online store.

4. Manage pages, products, banners etc from the admin panel.

Pages can be created on the fly without having to learn HTML.

5. Helpful online forum

Response times to your questions on the forum are fairly fast…generally within an hour (according to my experience).

Here are more details of Zen Carts’ features

Easy Installation

* checks the database and server for requirements before installing
* installs using a built-in installation tool
* prepopulates the basic store information
* optional demo products

Global E-Commerce Ready

* multiple language support
* multiple tax support
* multiple shipping methods
* multiple currency support
* multiple payment methods

Customer Status Modes

* unrestricted shopping
* must register to view prices
* must register to view prices and merchandise
* showroom only

Catalog Status Modes

* showcase mode without prices
* showcase mode with prices
* normal shopping mode
* down for maintenance mode

Categories and Products

* unlimited category depth
* physical merchandise
* downloadable virtual products
* products can reside in multiple categories
* product options as dropdowns, radio buttons, checkboxes, and text input

Customer Retention Tools

* periodic newsletter in plain text or HTML
* order status emails and records in the customer account
* referral tools
* gift certificates

Promotions, Sales and Discounts

* individual special prices
* global sale reductions
* category-wide sale prices
* discount coupons
* customer group discounts
* quantity discounts
* one-time charges
* minimum and maximum purchases per product
* prices by attributes

Powerful Administration Tool

* configure your minimum and maximum values, image sizes and customer details
* choose which layout settings to use for the spotlight listings
* pick which details to show on your product details page
* edit your policies pages with HTML (if desired)
* add, delete, move, link or copy your products
* create and manage your product attributes
* manage product reviews, featured products, specials and store wide sales
* shipping and payment module installation and management
* price and taxation control
* banner advertising controls
* newsletter creation and sending
* content management tool, easily add new content pages

Fully Customizable Catalog Templates

* XHTML 1.0 compliant – nearly table-less layout
* change the colors, fonts and many graphics using Cascading Stylesheets
* add, move, remove sideboxes via the Admin Tool
* template overrides that do not get overwritten during upgrades
* override functionality without having to learn PHP
* create as many different looks as you would like and choose them from the admin

Get 1000s of NEW visitors to your website without spending
a dime on advertising.

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to learn one of the most effective ways to drive 1000s of visitors to your online store.

Herman Drost is the Certified Internet Webmaster (CIW)
owner and author of Web Design, Web Hosting, SEO


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