ZenCart is originally based on OsCommerce which is highly reliable comparatively, easy to use and understand with PHP structure. It is a nice option for the designers and programmers who have little knowledge of PHP. ZenCart includes all standard features and functionalities required to create an online shopping cart. ZenCart open source software was introduced in 2003.
While Magento is a free open source shopping store started in 2007. It is based on PHP5 coding standards. It is basically very cost effective for developing more of professional online shopping cart. It has many features which make it too complex and server resource intensive. The template system of Magento is better compared to other CMS and it has large number of high quality modules through Magento connect.
For creating website by Magento, the developer should have a sound knowledge of coding while ZenCart application can be used with less knowledge of coding. It is very fast and usable software.
Magento has many extra features like Google check out, Order editing, product import or export and many others. It is very easy to upgrade because of its excellent templating system and it stands at top for its cleanest coding amongst all other shopping carts.
In ZenCart, no license fees are required for installation purpose and it’s very stable platform for developing an online shopping platform.
Summarizing both, we can say ZenCart is sort of less complex and light weight compared to Magento but at the same time Magento is more flexible and usable.