Shopify vs Zen Cart



So you have decided to sell online and you are weighing up the costs. You looked at Shopify and you ended up here because you want a cost comparison between Shopify and Zen Cart.


Let's have a look at the $$ so you are getting one step closer to being a proud online shop owner.

At the time of writing this (June 2015) the Shopify monthly charges for their plans are:

Basic $US29.00/month
Professional $US79.00/month (claimed to be the most popular plan)
Unlimited $US179.00/month

Hosting - included
SSL - included but shared


Now let us look at the cost for some essential Shopify add-ons (Apps). I only concentrated on the plugins which I have been using for years and which I personally deem to be essential. I have only chosen the cheapest version of a Shopify plugin.

  • Recover Abandoned Cart from $US8.00/per month - FREE on Zen Cart
  • Back in Stock Notifications from $US3.00/month - FREE on Zen Cart
  • Quick (bulk) Price Updates from $US5.00/month - FREE on Zen Cart
  • Image Resizer (automatic) from $US3.00/month - FREE on Zen Cart
  • Store Pickup from $US19.00/month - STANDARD on Zen Cart
  • Local Delivery $US13.99/month - FREE on Zen Cart
  • Google Analytics would cost a whopping $US39.00/month - FREE on Zen Cart

Just these 7 essential plugins can set you back by an additional $US91.00/month if your ecommerce store is based on Shopify. In my humble opinion that $US91.00 looks better in my pocket! At a GP of around 33% I would need to sell an additional $US280/month just to offset these costs! You may want other plugins so add the costs to the calculation above.....


When we add it all up on an annual basis, to run a Shopify store on the Basic Plan would cost you in excess of $1400.00 per year (Basic Plan $US29.00 plus the plugins in our example $US91.00 = $US120.00/month x 12 months = $US1440.00 per annum and that is $US).


In Australian $A that would be around $A1800.00 per year!


What about the annual costs of Zen Cart?

Firstly, the Zen Cart software is FREE and open source. Zen Cart is continuously being developed, expanded and simplified. All the plugins mentioned in our example above are either FREE or standard.


With Zen Cart you will need to choose a web host, the cost is somewhere between $A5.00 and $A20.00 per month, depending on the company you select. A decent host with a good reputation and 99.99% server uptime would cost you about $A12.00-$A13.00 per month. For our calculation let us use the higher amount, $A13.00 per month or $A156.00 per year.


Then you need your own domain name. In Australia the registration of a domain name costs you an average of $A10.00 per annum.

You may choose an SSL certificate for safety reasons, an additional cost of say $A30 per year.


That adds up to around $A200 per year.... say no more.


You may argue that Zen Cart is more difficult to install and to configure than Shopify. That argument is not new and to a minor extent I would agree with that opinion.


But there are Zen Cart enthusiasts or developers like myself who can do all the installing, designing and configuring for you at a much lesser price than the actual and ongoing annual costs for a Shopify store. And bear in mind, this is a once-off cost, not annual.


So, what is your charge to install and configure a Zen Cart shop for me?

Just look at this page and you get a basic idea of the costs if iSO Network would do that for you. Plus, we give you the basic training so you can make future modifications yourself.


When comparing the costs of setting up an online store, I certainly know which one of the two options I would choose.

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