Should I Upgrade my Zen Cart Store?

Note: 1.5.5f was recently released. I've been led to believe it's the last update for 1.5.5. Based on that premise, I have started upgrading to 1.5.5f. More on that here.

A recent patch released for Zen Cart this week had more to do with Master Card changes than Zen Cart problems. Just another thing one has to keep up with in this every changing ecommerce world. What was the shocker and, yes, I call it a shocker was the recommendation on the Zen Cart forum post in the italicized note: Upgrading annually is the best way to avoid compatibility and compliancy issues.

Upgrading annually. I am continually running into customers who haven't upgraded in 5 years and are still making money. I warn them loudly and strongly that they could be compromising their security and they might find one day that the cart is no longer working properly. I'm not always listened to but I deliver the appropriate warnings.

If I were to say to every customer, potential or existing, that they should upgrade annually, they would flock in droves to other carts. For many years, Zen Cart continued to grow and I rarely ever lost customers to other ecommerce solutions. I still believe zen cart is a great store for the average seller. It delivers flexible functionality, real security, and design for selling. It's not an easy cart to make changes to because it's designed to be flexible. Flexibility requires programming and only so much can be built in – as any estore will tell you.

Unfortunately, the ecommerce market has gotten a lot more competitive and the options have become enticing to long time Zen Cart owners. I'm now seeing a small trickle of customers moving on to other carts. None of those carts will sell more than what one has now. It is not the cart or the programming that determines one's ecommerce success. So just stick with a tried and true, secure cart.

But upgrading annually? Absolutely not. My biggest complaint about upgrading is all about upgrading too soon. Of course, my experience extends way back to the days of 1.3.8 where there were versions a,b,c,d,e,f,g and dadgummit H! The truth is that any major version change takes adjusting, thus requiring new interim versions – sometimes in a short amount of time. Upgrading each time would then become more than an annual affair. 

I am still putting customers into a patched/upgraded version of 1.5.4. 1.5.5 is more a step into mobile with most of the changes being made to the base template and a default mobile responsive template being added. There were very very few security reasons for 1.5.5 that was released in March of 2016. In the next year there were 4 more versions – March of 2017 saw 1.5.5e. Five versions in one year. 

Now they are working on 1.5.6. – and all along working towards 1.6. 

No, do not be a lemming. Do not be an early adopter. Don't be the guinea pig. Make sure your cart is patched, at least at the level of 1.5.4. Make sure you are up on what is needed – just subscribe to the Zen Cart Announcements thread to keep up with changes. Recognize that most likely you will need professional help in deciding if your cart needs work. And don't let a possible upgrade drive you to another cart – therein lies a good way to spend even more money switching.

Author: Delia Wilson Lunsford, Founder & CEO, WizTech, Inc.