Zen Cart is an online store management system, available for free, that uses PHP as a programming language, a MySQL database and HTML components. Its development began in 2003, when it forked from osCommerce. Just like any other fork, Zen Cart brought some new changes to the ecommerce world. Aside from some obvious design changes in the Zen Cart theme, it also differentiated itself through architectural changes and new Zen Cart features like a template system and other features included in the core. When the 1.3.x series was released it became clear that Zen Cart was choosing its own path and making additional improvements to the template system, by moving it from its historic tables-based layout approach to one that was largely CSS-based.
Other examples of Zen Cart features worth mentioning are its ease of use when it comes to installation. Given that it was developed by a group of like-minded shop owners, programmers, designers, they focused on making things easy for everyone, from developers to end-users. What this actually means is that programmers can extend Zen Cart features as it’s highly customizable, while shop owners can install the software and set up a Zen Cart demo with basic computer skills. It comes integrated with the most popular payment gateways, but if that’s a Zen Cart feature you would like to expand on, you can always choose a payment module developed by the community or create your own.