Advantages & Disadvantages of Shopping Carts

Advantages & Disadvantages of Shopping Carts

It is important to know when selecting your shopping cart what features you need. All the shopping carts below feature the following:

  • Customer management
  • Product management
  • Variety of payment and shipping modules
  • Order receipt emails
  • Ability to use SSL secure layers for ordering process

However the shopping carts vary when it comes to:

  • Time it takes to modify the cart to look like a current web design
  • WYSIWYG ability to modify product descriptions using different fonts, colors, etc.
  • Ability to import/export from Excel spreadsheet
  • Wholesale/Reseller Pricing

In this review we will be going over PHP/MySQL shopping carts that run both Linux and Windows servers. We will not be reviewing pay-per-month shopping carts. We feel this offer less value because they have expensive monthly fees. Also – they usually do not allow access to the source code of the system or much customization of the shopping cart. The following shopping carts below are open-source meaning that you can modify the source code and customize the shopping cart to your needs.

Shopping Cart Advantages Disadvantages


Magento is one of the newer shopping carts on the block but has already attracted a large following. The coding is based on the latest PHP 5 object oriented coding standards and the Zend framework.

  • Varian the company who backs the cart is very active in updating the code and fixing bugs
  • Multi-Store Capable
  • Nice default template
  • Flexible Coupons than any other cart
  • Heavily layered and overly complicated coding style and thousands of files requires a lot of time to learn and do customizations
  • Right now the technical documentation is very limited, making it difficult to customize and modify the programming of Magento beyond doing graphical changes
  • Runs fairly slow
  • Requires a good high end server


Oscommerce is the basis for both Zen Cart and CRE Loaded. It runs well and is a good back to basics shopping cart.

  • Has the most available number of contributions and modifications
  • Recent security update brings it up to date with MySQL 5 and PHP 5
  • It can take a lot of time and money to install all the contributions you want (add-ons)
  • No graphic template system meaning it is harder to modify the design

Zen Cart

Zen Cart has a very nice wide array of features based on Oscommerce but has gone its own path. Some of the nice features include product attributes managers, template system, html editor for regular web page contents, built in coupon code system, and more.

  • No licensing fees
  • Stable
  • Many contributions from Oscommerce already installed
  • Not possible to use Oscommerce contributions, they must be converted to Zen Cart
  • Admin interface is a little messy in certain areas because there are so many contributions installed


X-Cart is a commercial package, but one of the most competitively priced and easy to modify.

  • Commercially supported and has very few if any bugs
  • Uses Smarty Templates system which many programmers like to work for laying out the web site
  • Licensing fees for system and some add-on modules


nopCommerce is an open source e-commerce solution that is ASP.NET 4.0 based with a MS SQL 2005 (or higher) backend database.

  • Ease of Deployment
  • Integration of live Chat
  • Text messages on sales and contacts
  • Microsoft licensing is required
  • Some bugs need to be fixed
  • Support is weak
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