ZenCart and TomatoCart are both open source shopping cart based originally on osCommerce, running on the LAMP environment (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP). Developed since 2003, ZenCart has gained popularity with its reliability, solid feature list and ease of use. However, TomatoCart, started in 2010 is still a rising star, which is well known for its innovative “winbows” admin panel with more concern about user experience and functionality.

This article is written for those who are not familiar with TomatoCart or those who can’t make a decision when facing the two eCommerce solutions. Focusing on functionality (built-in functionality in majority) comparison, the content of the article is objective with no discrimination.


Both carts are quick to install and easy to learn. The requirements of two carts indicate low cost on hosting. However, different from web 1.0 technology based osCommerce, TomatoCart applies the modern web 2.0 technology such as RIA (Rich Internet Application), Ajax, which provides a familiar windows operation environment and boosts the operation efficiency.


Front end:

Tomato Cart Front End

ZenCart Front End

According to w3schools’research, most users are using a screen resolution of 1024×768 pixels or higher, with a color depth of at least 65K (Learn more?).That means, compared with the Zen Cart’s 750px width template, TomatoCart’s front end with a template in 960px width caters to more users nowadays.

Back end:

Tomato Cart Back End

Zen Cart Back End

See any difference? Right, Zen Cart inherits the traditional looking of osCommerce; while the desktop-looking admin panel of TomatoCart is multi-window-supported, which brings clients sleek and efficient operation experience. What’s more, you are allowed to set shortcut, auto run, quick start and context menu at your discretion.

Site Management:

Site management, generally speaking, should include all the basic tools to organize your sites and it decides the performance of your sites and the flexibility of your site settings. In addition to basic site management tools, TomatoCart has created its unique tools such as department management, which allow customers to choose the department they’d like to contact. While ZenCart is featured with:


CMS, simplifying your publication of web content, is a special and indispensable part of shopping cart software. If you wanna make your site attractive, impressive and distinctive, you should turn to help of CMS. Ranging from simple article to indicative video, high-end CMS is capable of doing nearly anything you comes up with. But it doesn’t absolutely indicate the more, the better. It’s up to your demand. Never be too greedy, which always run counters to your desire.

Catalog Management:

As a proverb says, effort doubled, result halved. I do believe a clear catalog layout makes your work simple! Let’s take a careful look at this part.

Product Management:

TomatoCart is featured with a sleek experience when you are adding new products; however, ZenCart is a little messy.

Customer Management:

How to manage your customers? Treat them all the same? Definitely not! Different treatment is needed here to boost your online sales. For example, you can divide them into several customer groups and give them different discounts according to their order records. In a word, a perfect customer management is also a powerful marketing tool.

Order Management:

Sometimes, orders will be taken by phone, which requires the shopping cart system with a manual order-adding functionality. Sometimes, customers may return a product. And sometimes… There are a lot of exceptions you have to take into consideration. Let’s see whether your shopping cart software has thought of the exceptions in advance!

Marketing, Sales and SEO:

Nowadays, Marketing is considered as a key to popularity and success. Without exception, it is also a significant part of shopping cart software. Built-in promotional tools not only cut down on the cost but also boost your revenue. Aside from promotional tools, SEO brings you a good result when customers are searching store or product via search engines.


Checkout determines the sales conversion. Customers will be bothered by complex check out processes and limited choices.

Payment Gateways:

People all around the world definitely have different favored payment methods. What if they can’t find the gateway they are looking for or there is no other alternative payment gateway?

What a frustrating shopping experience! Consequently, multiple choices of payment methods should be prepared to satisfy all kinds of need. Here we just compare the built-in payment gateways of both shopping cart.

Till now, TomatoCart supports more than twenty integrated payment gateways.You can check them out here. As to ZenCart, you may see its payment module add-ons here.