Archive for the ‘Zen Cart Tutorials’ Category

Just starting a new store and want your order number the customers see to be a number larger than #1?  Starting a new year and want to see a somewhat accurate reporting of the hits during that year only?  Zen Cart makes it easy for you to change these numbers in just a minute!

When your customers place an order, they receive an email that has their order number in the subject line as well as in the body of the order confirmation email.  Many store owners may have a brick and mortar store and are just starting to sell on the internet and want to change that order number to one that appears to be more “successful” if you will.  I suggest when a customer starts a new store, that they start their order number at 500.  Let’s face it… a larger order number is going to breed confidence in your customer, whether they realize it or not.

To change an order number, the first thing you need to do is place a test order, so you have order #1.  Once you have done that, you can easily change the NEXT order number to a number higher than 1.  Log into your Zen Cart admin, mouse over the Tools menu, then from the drop down menu, select Store Manager.  Once there, you will see a spot where you can enter a new order number.

In this same area, you can also change your hit counter.  Customers never see this.. it is for your benefit only.  I like to change my hit counter to zero each year just for kicks and grins!  Below is an image that will show you where to go to accomplish these two tasks.  Happy zenning!


clocks75    Some of you may have noticed that in your 1.5.3 or 1.5.4 Zen Cart admin, the time zone is not correct.  For instance, it most likely will say something like:
Sat, 28 Feb 2015 20:13:33 +0000GMT

In all reality, your particular time zone could be Central time, so this default time zone can be confusing as far as when orders came in and are sent out.

In Zen versions 1.5.3 and 1.5.4, a core file can be edited to contain your particular time zone which can be found at

The file you will need to edit is includes/extra_configures/set_time_zone.php

Opening that file in a text or php editor, you will see the following on or about line 13:

// put your timezone here. Refer to
$TZ = ”;  // eg: ‘Europe/Oslo’

Say, for example that you are in the Central time zone, you would then change this file to look like this:

// put your timezone here. Refer to
$TZ = ‘America/Chicago’;  // eg: ‘Europe/Oslo’

It is important that you do not remove the ” marks, and put your time zone BETWEEN them, otherwise you will have big problems!

It is also important to back up the CORE file you are replacing, just in case an error is made.  We do this by adding a .txt at the end of the file name on the server, then we upload the changed file.

If you need our assistance setting up your time zone, you can visit our site and we will be happy to help.


Zen Cart Standard Store

Standard Store

I would say 98% of store owners use zen cart because they actually want to process payments through their website for their products. This is how zen cart is set up as a default – to actually sell products, have the add to cart buttons, etc.

However, there may be times when you do not want to process the payment through your website – possibly because of shipping costs not being uniform, or you just want to showcase your work.

Zen Cart is flexible in allowing you to add products that you want to sell from your web site, or just showcase your products and have prospective customers contact you if they are interested in a product.

To change your Zen Cart store from a standard default store to a showcase, you can log into your admin area and go to Configuration>My store.  On this page you will see a link called Store Status.  If you click on this link you will see 3 different options to choose from:

What is your Store Status
0= Normal Store
1= Showcase no prices
2= Showcase with prices

Below are photos of how the site will look with prices and no prices: (Note:  these pictures have the products laid out in column format, but it gives you an idea of how it will look whether the column layout mod is installed or it is in rows)

store no prices

Showcase No Prices

store with prices

Showcase With Prices

As you can see, there is a link that says “Contact Us” instead of an Add To Cart button.  If a customer were to click this link, they will be taken to your contact us page where they can send you an email / inquiry.

space-out-ezpage-linksAn easy way to space out the EZ Page links in the sidebox on your zen cart website would be to do the following:

Create an overrides folder for your template – includes/templates/YOUR TEMPLATE FOLDER/sideboxes

Copy includes/templates/template_default/sideboxes/tpl_ezpages.php into the overrides folder.

Open the file and insert the code for a line break where I have indicated in RED below:

$content = “”;
$content .= ‘<div id=”‘ . str_replace(‘_’, ‘-‘, $box_id . ‘Content’) . ‘”>’;
$content  .= “\n” . ‘<ul style=”margin: 0; padding: 0; list-style-type: none;”>’ . “\n”;
for ($i=1, $n=sizeof($var_linksList); $i<=$n; $i++) {
$content .= ‘<li><a href=”‘ . $var_linksList[$i][‘link’] . ‘”>’ . $var_linksList[$i][‘name’] . ‘</a></li><br />‘ . “\n” ;
} // end FOR loop
$content  .= ‘</ul>’ . “\n”;
$content .= ‘</div>’;

Upload this file to the server.

Doing the line break like this as opposed to just adding a line height to all links sitewide will keep links that take up two lines together instead of spacing them out making them appear to be two separate links in your sidebox.

Setting up zen cart gift certificates by using attributes for the amount / value of the gift certificate will allow you to have just ONE product called Gift Certificates – as opposed to a product displayed for each dollar amount in a gift certificate category.

Follow are some steps to get this set up:

1.  Create a category called Gift Certificates

2.  Within that category, create a product called Gift Certificates using the following protocol:

  • Products Status: In Stock
  • Date Available:Leave this blank
  • Products Manufacturer: Leave this blank
  • Products Name: Gift Certificate
  • Product is Free: No
  • Product is Call for Price: No
  • Product Priced by Attributes: Yes
  • Tax Class: Choose appropriate status for your store.  Normally is not taxable
  • Products Price (Net):  Enter a zero here.
  • Products Price (Gross): figured automatically
  • Product is Virtual:  Yes,  Skip Shipping Address
  • Always Free Shipping: No.
  • Products Quantity Box Shows: Yes, Show
  • Product Qty Minimum: leave blank
  • Product Qty Maximum: 0 = Unlimited, 1 = No Qty Boxes or Max ##
  • Product Qty Units: leave blank
  • Product Qty Min/Unit Mix: leave blank
  • Products Description: Enter your description here.
  • Products Quantity: leave blank or put in a large number to track number sold.
    If you are finding that you cannot add a Gift Certificate to your cart while shopping, try adding a quantity here!
  • Products Model: GIFT-0000 (do not deviate from this – make your model number exactly like this)
  • Products Image: Upload an image
  • Upload to directory: choose directory
  • Products URL: leave blank
  • Products Weight: leave blank

3.  Now that you have the product set up, you need to set up the attributes for the dollar amount.  Go To Catalog>Option Name Manager and set up an option name called Value or Amount – or whatever you want displayed.  You may choose to have these displayed in a drop down box or by check boxes, etc.

4.  Next go to Catalog>Option Value Manager to set up the values of the gift certificate.  Select the Value that you set up in step three (eg: value, amount, etc) then start entering the values you want for the gift certificate. (Click photo below for a larger view)

5.  The final step is to apply the attribute to the product by going to Catalog>Attributes Controller, selecting Gift Certificate and choosing DISPLAY to add the values.  On the left side you will choose the option name of Value or whatever you set up in step #3.  Next to that, you will select the value of the gift certificate that you set up in step #4.  In the Prices and weight area, put the price of the gift certificate, and put the sort order you want it to show up in.  (click image below for larger view)

Once you have completed these steps – you should have a gift certificate where customers can choose what value they want by using the attributes you just set up and your final look will be something like the following:

There may be times when you want to set up a category on your zen cart that does not have any items to purchase in it. For example, it could be something important that you want displayed in your category box with information or images in it.

When you create a category that does not have any products in it, zen cart will automatically insert the following line at the bottom of that category page:

“There are no products to list in this category”

If you would like to get rid of this, you need to edit the includes/ languages/ english/ YOUR CUSTOM FOLDER/ index.php file. If you use an HTML editor, you need to go to around line 81 and you will see the following:

define(‘TEXT_NO_PRODUCTS’, ‘There are no products to list in this category.’);

Simply edit that line by taking out the sentence – being careful to not delete the quote marks. So you would end up with the following:

define(‘TEXT_NO_PRODUCTS’, ”);

Zen Cart will allow you to easily display new products that you have entered at the bottom of several pages of your web site if you want it to.

The first thing you will need to do is set up the box that shows in the center of the pages so that it will display the new products. This will create a center box that has the words “New Products for the Month of “current month name here”.

To do this you need to log into your zen cart admin and mouse over the word Configuration, then go down to Index Listing and click on it. This will bring you to a page where you can put the sort numbers of how you want New, Featured, Special and Upcoming product boxes to be displayed.

Zen Cart New Product Listing Center Box

You will see by the above example that the new products has been turned off because there is a 0 in the sort order. Putting a 1 in this area will display it first.

Once you have decided the sort order, you can now go to Configuration > Maximum Values and towards the bottom you will see New Product Listing – Limited to … When clicking on this you will see the following display:

Zen Cart Limiting New Products in Center Box

So, as an example… if you set this up to display new products that you have entered in the last 7 days, any product entered in the last 7 days will be shown. If NO new products were entered in the last 7 days, then the box will not show up in the middle column at all, because there are no products that fall within the guidelines you specified to be shown.

When creating a zen cart store, it is important to use an overrides directory to put information specific to your template in.

We automatically create the following folders and download the files/folders from the template_default into these folders each time we build a zen cart template for our clients, naming our overrides directory/folders  “custom”.

—-custom (put english.php file here)
——custom (put index.php, header.php, meta_tags.php and shopping_cart.php in this folder)
——–custom (put all the files under the default html_includes folder here)
—-custom  (download all files in the folders below from the template_default)

By using this structure for your overrides directory, this prevents you from overriding core files and gives you the ability to go back to those core files should something go amiss when you are editing the files in your overrides directory.

Defining Option Names:There are 3 parts to attributes:

  • Option Name
  • Option Value
  • Attribute on the product

Admin -> Catalog -> Option Name Manager



a) Order (This is the sort order the Option Name displays on the screen.)

b) Select an Option Type:

  • Dropdown (note when only 1 option value this will automatically be switched to a Radio Button and later when more than one value it will automatically switch to the dropdown)
  • Radio Button
  • Checkbox
  • TEXT (this does not get an Option Value)
  • FILE (This does not get an Option Value)
  • READONLY (this is for display purposes only and is not part of a calculation nor does it appear on the order. It is more or less an informational attribute that can be used with 1 to many products and then changed once to change on all products.)

On some Option Names, based on the Type … there are more settings if you Edit the Option Name:

For Option Type TEXT:

  • Comments
  • Max Display Size (size of input box on screen)
  • Max Length (max number of characters/spaces)

For Option Type Radio buttons and checkboxes:

  • There are choices of image layout

Defining Option Values

Catalog ... Option Value Manager

a) Pick the Option Name
b) Give a Name like Red
c) Give a default Sort Order

The sort order is used if you want to globably sort your Option Values to match otherwise you can set these manually per product or later update a product, category or whole store.

Attributes Controller

Now … you should have made several Option Names like …

  • Color
  • Size
  • etc.

And then set the Option Values for these like:

  • Red
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Purple
  • Brown
  • Black
  • White


  • Small
  • Medium
  • Large
  • X-Large
  • X-Small

Using the Default Sort Order on these values will help you later in getting them into a nice display on the pages.

Adding the Attributes to the Products
So now to add them to the products.
This is done via the Attributes Controller

a) Select a Product to add Attributes to
You can look up a product in a couple ways …

– Either pick a Category or a Product
– When you pick a category, the ones with a * have products in them and this will display the first product Previous/Next
– When you pick a product,  click display … this sets the category to this product’s master category id … so you can now use the Previous/Next if you like.

b) Add the Attribute Option Name+Value Pairs
Once the Product is displayed that you want to add attributes to … go to the Add Attributes box
– The Product Name should already be selected.

1. Now select the Option Name

2. Next select a matching Option Value, notice they say what kind of Option Type you have selected.  ie:  Blue [COLOR]
You will notice the Option Values say their names and next to them the Option Name that they match to.

3. Depending on what you want to do with attributes there are several methods to price, add weight, sort order, and mark the type of attribute this is.

Price can be entered with a prefix of + or – or blank.

+ and blank will add the attribute price
– will subtract the attribute price

Weight can be entered optionally if it effects the product weight with a prefix of + or – or blank.

+ and blank will add the attribute weight
– will subtract the attribute weight

There are other pricing options also available besides the standard prices.

  • One Time Charge
  • Price Factor
  • One Time Charge Price Factor
  • Attirbute Qty Price
  • One Time Attribute Qty Price
  • For TEXT
  • Price per word and free words
  • Price per letter and free letters

4. Then there are the Attribute Flags in the colored boxes.
These are used to help distinquish other features of the attribute such as:

  • Use for display only (attribute cannot be selected and added to cart. Good for things like “Select from Below” to force the customer to make their own choice and not just hit Add to Cart and get a pink snail instead of a blue snail.
  • Attribute is Free when product is Free (Some products you may set to Free … but the some attributes are free and some attributes cost money.)
  • Default Attribute (Should be used especially on Radio buttons, or if you have an attribute you prefer the customer selects.)
  • Apply Discounts used by Product Sale/Special (this will apply the same type of discount that the product is getting from the products_price vs the special or sale price.)
  • Include in Base Price (when products are priced by attributes mark the attributes include in base price then the lowest price in each Option Name group are added together to make up the product price. NOTE: when not the product is not marked priced by attribute this setting has no effect on the price.)
  • Attribute Required for TEXT (Some text is required text and cannot be left blank by the customer.)

5. If this attribute is a downloadable file, enter the filename.

6. Be sure to click Add to add the newly-defined Attribute.
You can always edit or delete them after adding.

When done … you can update the sort orders for the product to the Option Value sort order by pressing the button at the top of the page.

This tutorial written by: Ajeh – Linda McGrath