CS Cart Review – My First Impressions

Choosing a shopping cart is not easy! I’ve spent well over 10 years looking at shopping cart software and I can promise you no solution is perfect.

Like many of you, I initially had high hopes for Interspire Shopping Cart (and still do) but over the past year the Interspire management has really dropped the ball with their communication and software updates, which has encouraged some of us to look at alternatives.

One of the alternative shopping carts that I see popping up from time to time is CS Cart, which I was able to take a close look at over what was a very wet and miserable weekend.

CS Cart Pricing

To be honest, up until recently I had been somewhat suspicious of the quality of CS Cart. I figured that at $285 there had to be something wrong….  it’s just far too cheap for the features on offer.

CS Cart Features

In terms of features, CS Cart is very much comparable to Interspire Shopping Cart’s Ultimate Edition, which is surprising as it retails for $285 US compared to $1,795 US with Interspire.

The CS Cart design is fully customisable and is 100% template driven (using smarty templates). For those of you who are not sure what this means and why it is important you can interpret it as having the core files totally separated from the design elements, making the software much easier to customise and more importantly much harder to break.

On top of this the developers have also provided you with an inbuilt a Block Management feature, which further facilitates the design customisation by allowing the cart administrator to create and drag blocks of content around the interface until the desired look and feel has been obtained. No HTML or PHP skills required!

Unlike other providers, the software allows you to add an unlimited number of products and categories to your catalogue. Fortunately, large product catalogues are pretty easy to manage via the bulk product management or the import/export tools. Quantity discounts, configurable products, digital product delivery and a flexible range of product options round out the product related features.

Logging in via the web-based administration panel allows you to easily and quickly make changes to your store via a large range of configurable options and settings. You can set up an unlimited amount of admin accounts, each of which can be set at a different access level which is great for limiting staff members from gaining access to sensitive information.

The localisation features are strong. There are currently 8 languages translated and the software can be configured to cater for any particular currency, measurement unit, or date-time format. On top of that the software is also able to handle a range of different localised tax calculations (e.g. VAT in England, GST in Australia etc).

CS Cart has included over 50 integrated payment systems and has a flexible range of shipping options that would cover the needs of most online retailers.

There is also a wide range of marketing and promotional tools that include an affiliate program, SEO friendliness, gift certificates, gift registry, reward points, coupons, discounts etc.

I won’t bother with explanation of the rest of the features because it would only be repeating what is on their website, but you can rest assured that it is jampacked and very impressive.

CS Cart Support Options

With your initial purchase you will have access to all major and minor updates for a period of 12 months. If you wish to continue receiving these updates after this time period it will cost $49.50 per year. Your initial purchase will also provide you with either 30 days or 40 credits of technical support.

Support queries are answered via an online helpdesk and are limited to consulting on the functionality of the shopping cart, assisting in your software configuration, resolving issues with the software (or server), and performing minor technical modifications.

Understanding how the support options work is a little bit tricky. It seems that you can either purchase support for one ($65), three ($180), six ($350) or 12 months ($650) or you can purchase between 25 ($35) and 200 ($270) support credits that can be used as needed. (If I have interpreted this incorrectly please let me know in the comments)

The development team also offer a custom development service that allows you to extend the “out-of-the-box” functionality of CS Cart. I was surprised to read that some customers who have previously had modifications developed found their customised work included in the-base software package at a later date, essentially paying for the ongoing development of the cart.

No big deal I suppose, so long as the customer was made aware of this beforehand.

CS Cart Community

It is very impressive to see that there is a strong and enthusiastic crowd of people using CS Cart. The discussion forums are busy and full of helpful and encouraging advice.

There appears to be quite a few active developers offering third-party services and/or add-ons for sale. There also appears to be a range of third-party designers ready to help design and customise the look and feel of your store layout.

The only ongoing negative sentiment I could find coming out of the community was that perhaps the CS Cart developers were releasing software updates before enough testing has taken place, essentially relying on customers to find most of the bugs rather than their own quality testing.

In saying that, releasing software too early isn’t an uncommon practice with software providers and you should never look at upgrading your software too quickly, it’s just a recipe for disaster.

The other negative comments that I could find were that a number of larger e-commerce stores were reporting experiences of dramatic slowing under heavy traffic. I’m really not sure if this is the fault of the software or if they need a better performing web server. Something that’s probably worthwhile looking into it if you’re in the situation of owning a busy site.

Overall, this positive community vibe and access to third-party services bodes well for the future of this shopping cart. A happy community generally reflects a software application that is heading in the right direction.

Summary of CS Cart

Personally, my overall impression of CS Cart is very good, but if you want software that is developed and supported well you should expect to pay an appropriate price. Ongoing development and the associated support is costly and at its current price point I wonder if CS Cart is too cheap (perhaps it is a great time to be buying).

I should add that to date I have had no dealings with the CS Cart team, however if experience with similar software companies is anything to go by there is a possibility that if they don’t increase their price they may struggle to keep up with future growth or even cannibalise their reputation chasing alternative revenue streams (like charging a custom development and then releasing it as part of your software at a future date).

In saying that, this is just my speculation and everything else I can find about CS Cart seems very very positive. I will definitely be looking at purchasing a license in the near future and have no problems recommending people check it out.

What do you think of CS Cart?

As I mentioned above, to date I have no real life experience with CS Cart and am basing this review on their demos and the research that I have conducted online. If you have had any experience with CS Cart I would love to hear them in the comments below.

Comments

  1. Dave Beck says:

    Just wondering if anybody that is following this discussion has bit the bullet and transferred over to CS Cart from Interspire. If so, has it been a good experience?

  2. Yep, I have.

    It has been a good experience. Support is waaaay better, the product is cheaper, and it does more.

    It doesnt look as pretty out of the box, but thats the only downside I have seen.

    • Thanks for the reply David.

      I think support is the major issue when deciding on any type of web application. Most of the major shopping cart providers offer similar features it is the support that sets them apart.

  3. Hi Dave,

    We have done several sites now in CS-cart or better our beefed up version 4Sprung cart system and while no cart is perfect we find CS Cart is definitely the better cart system with far more features and less problems. The weak point was the backend but we just finished our re-design which in our eyes brings it up to par with ISC. have a quick look here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnG9ctE8lu4.
    With our ISC to CS cart migrator we can actually convert ISC to CS Cart and import products, variations, customers, orders etc. which makes it a pretty smooth transition.

    Thanks

    Steve

    • Steve – Video looks great.

      How about URL structure – is it possible to continue to use the same URL structure currently used on ISC? atleast for existing pages currently with ISC. Although it is not ideal – we have invested a lot on SEO and i would much prefer to keep the existing structure atleast for the existing pages rather than doing 301 redirects on all current URLs?

      We are using ISC v5, our support contract has run out and i’m really needing to upgrade to get the benefit of a bunch of bug fixes + utilise new features – however i’m finding it difficult to fork over the cash.

      RE: BC – I currently have 2x BC stores that work great, they are smaller stores and do not need much modification besides a template. Our major site though is as above on ISC v5 and we wouldn’t be able to use BC as is currently for this.

      If you can let me know the answer to my first question, i might look a little further into CS-cart – especially now that i have seen your redesign, there UI is what turned me offer 6-8 months ago when i first looked at it.

      -Matt

    • Steve,

      Your new backend looks fantastic. Definitely a much smoother flow than the CS Cart demo.

      Your ISC to CS Cart sounds ideal, however I think the price is pretty steep.

      • Dave,

        I guess this would only make sense for people with several hundred or even thousands of products and I think in comparison to any other method it’s quite cheap as otherwise you would need to spend many days of labour.

        You still need a bit of preparation to prepare CS Cart for the conversion so there is also a time component it. Not to mentioned 2 month development time and keeping it updated to work with new releases.

        Regards

        Steve

        • Dave Beck says:

          In reflection you’re 100% right.

          Changing shopping cart platforms is a gut wrenching task and anything that makes it a bit more automated is always welcome.

  4. Brenden Chisty says:

    I finally gave up on Interspire, shame really as I did like it, but to much uncertainties and bad bad support for me!

    Have now had a whole 2 weeks with Cs Cart.

    Okay!, the thing I notice instantly is the templates, simply not as good as ISC but not as bad as I assumed, yes you can get your own template done, but Interspire had in my opinion templates that were so professional out of the box, with little changes like the Banner gif then the whole site looked bespoke. the product display was also superior with ICS, something looks a tad cheap with the standard CS Cart.

    Like I said I do realize anything can be created to be bespoke for whatever look or option you require, but this costs! However due to the initial outlay I do have some pennies to play with! But I assume not enough to look as good as I would like! time will tell!

    Secondly, the back office is Ugly, is that really a problem ? Not in my opinion, I have never had a good looking office so it fits in with me :). No customer will see it so it simply not a problem!

    So far it is doing ALMOST everything I want, missing the auto zoom youtube video for product page, which was a fantastic way to extend the description, Im told you can do this with CS ?? I cant find it, another small item its missing is the facebook “like” button,, However I think I sorted that easy enough. Just got some free code and popped it in, Hope that’s safe to do :D

    So my thoughts!
    In some respects im still a bit sad that I have had to move to Cs Cart, But lets be dam honest here!!! CS CART so far is amazing!
    Put it into prospective the price! its so cheap, I had reservations that such a cheap product could never be any good! I have to take it back, it is very powerful !

    On the negative side, I have found the Admin slightly more difficult to get used to,but I am still learning.

    Cs Cart Support so far seem pretty good, no matter how daft my questions I get a professional and helpful reply.

    If only the templates were a tad better, or easier to modify this cart would be a dream, im sure for many, template design is just the basics, sadly I am not lucky enough to have the knowledge, with ICS all I had to do was edit the header banner and any other image, im sure its ultimately the same with CS, maybe just like the admin, just a tad more difficult. I open the header banner on CS and its a tiny pic, I guess its the Background ? so I cant actually import to photoshop and change!

    Finlay, would I now move to ICS if there was reassurance by the developers that things will improve?
    I THINK NOT!
    Cs Cart for the time will be for me!

    • Thanks for the really well thought out comment Brendon. It really helps when reading something that comes from real experience with the product.

      In regard to the Facebook “like” button, you should be able to get that installed really easily.

  5. CS Cart is great. The only thing is that Smarty is complete rubbish making CS Cart very difficult to skin. If you want a completely fresh / unique design, then CS Cart might not be the right choice. If you’re happy with a standard CS Cart look and feel with a few tweaks, then CS Cart is great!

    Having said that, if someone wants a completely unique design, they should expect to pay big bucks, in which case there should be enough budget to completely re-skin CS Cart. It can be done, but developers aren’t really fond of the work – Smarty is horrible.

    • hi Howard,

      I completely agree with your sentiment about Smarty Templates. They do add an extra layer of complexity on top of template design. Perhaps there’s a real opportunity for selling good-quality CS Cart skins!

  6. CS-Cart is good for all business =)

  7. Hi Dave,
    The purpose to buy a shopping cart is selling. I am a user of CS-Cart since three years ago. My first shopping cart (version 1.2) is still working and receives 8.000 visitors per day (240.000/month). You know, more visitors more revenue.
    One year ago I decided diversify my business and I opened other store (Using CS-Cart version 2.1). In one year has grown from zero revenue to US$15.000 per month.
    I know you need good product and good marketing strategies, but you need a tool easy to use and easy to implement those strategies. That tool is CS-Cart. With CS-Cart you can reach the top of Google in your keywords and manage very easy marketing strategies to capture more customers.
    You don’t need to be an expert. If you need modify your cart you can ask the CS-Cart helpdesk team, and for very affordable prices and excellent service you can do it.
    I live on the other site from CS-CART (in South America) and this was not an obstacle to get an excellent customer service. I don’t need to look for other options.

    • Thanks for your response Gabriel!

      For your original site are you running the site a dedicated server or VPS?

      • Dave,
        Original site is running in a Dedicated Server. Same server is hosting two CS-Cart sites and two WordPress sites. Total: 9.000 visitors/day, 36.000 pages/day

  8. Dave,

    I am evaluating an ecommerce solution and I see that you like both CS-Cart and LemonStand.

    From your perspective which one is better?
    Or can you provide advantages/disadvantages of CS-Cart VS. LemonStand?

    I looked also at BigCommerce and one think I liked is the integration with MailChimp.
    Does CS-Cart and/or LemonStand have similar e-mail management capabilities?

    Thanks.

    • hi Gilbert,

      I am in the process of doing a comparison of CS cart and Lemonstand. Hopefully it will be ready in a few days time.

      I think it will be also worthwhile to a lot of people if I do some research into what the various shopping’s are able to offer in terms of newsletter provider integrations.

      Will let you know when the post is ready.

      Dave

  9. I have been looking lately for an alternative to CubeCart with the EOF (End of Life) Announcements. I have to say I love CC – but with the changes, the uncertainty about v5 and v4 never really instilled a lot of confidence. What I am reading is CS is probably the next platform for me – I agree it is an awful decision and one that will take time to happen – I will start migrating in the second half of the year, but I have to be honest, if it is even half as good as what I am reading I am sure I will be happy.

    • Thanks for the comment Nicola.

      When you look at the price it is hard to believe how many features are included with CS Cart. I have a project coming up in around six months and I’m planning to convert the site over to CS Cart, although I’m also keeping a close eye on Lemon Stand which seems to be catching up (but still has a fair way to go).

      I would love to know what your ultimate decision is and how you get on with the changeover. Please keep in touch

      Dave

  10. Hi. I an new to this forum. Today is 09/04/2011. Any updates on ISC? Has it changed. I am wanting to jump ship from Actinic but I don’t want to jump into a fire. Over the years I have tried all sorts of carts; Oscommerce (and variants), Cubecart, Volusion, ClickCart Pro to name a few.

    Does anyone have any serious recommendations as to what I should choose. I was just about to purchase an ultimate licence from Interspire until I starting trawling the internet prior to making my final decision. By the looks of it I made a good move as I do not see an awful lot of positive things about Interspire which concerns me.

    Thanks.

    Stefan

    • Dave Beck says:

      hi Stefan,

      Thanks for your comment. I don’t think you’re alone in your endless search for the perfect shopping cart, unfortunately I don’t think it exists unless you’re willing to fork out tens of thousands of dollars.

      Interspire (at lease BigCommerce at this stage) have just totally redone their product variations. This was much needed and I would anticipate that they would be putting a release out for Interspire in the next month or so. In saying that, I am still yet to see any highly negative reviews of CS Cart. The professional version is much cheaper than Interspire and they even have a free community edition that you might want to play around with to get a feel whether it is suitable.

      Let us know how you get on

  11. Howard,
    have a look at some of the re-skinning of CS cart we have done
    they do not look anywhere near like the standard CS cart layout so it can easily be done
    if you know what you are doing. But I agree the smarty engine ads an additional layer of complexity.

    http://www.fashionstake.com
    http://www.buyhappier.com

    • Were those two sites done in cs cart ? They look amazing!

      • I can confirm they are running cs-cart.

        Don’t be fooled by nice templates that come with some shopping carts. This is maybe 5% of what is important about the software, if you are serious about your shop you want your own look / template anyway.

        So I choose more features and less bugs over good looks any day.

      • The templates are custom designs and the carts is our 4s cart based on CS cart but with 3000 hours of extra work in and allot of added functionality

        one of our more recent releases is http://www.liquamax.com.au also a custom designed template implemented by us.

        regards

        steve

  12. Walter says:

    cs-cart has many bugs that are not corrected over the years
    eg search by price does not work properly if the goods have discounts; csrf vulnerability was not fixed, etc.

  13. hm, very minor bugs in comparison to bugs which exist in other carts and issues which we have long addressed like the search by price.

    csrf vulnerability does exit for many carts but to actually exploit this you would need to know

    1. Admin page url
    2. Admin password
    3. Admin not to log out and leave the session open and then manage to lure you on to a web site with the malicious code on it.

    So really a quite unlikely exploit for shopping cart owners and if you follow common sense and change your admin URL, have a proper password and keep it secret and log out after using the backend it’s impossible to be exploited.

    Please also see
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-site_request_forgery

  14. I just ditched Interspire. They ruined a good thing.
    Cs-cart took me all of 8 days to set up and fully migrate. I love it!

    • Dave Beck says:

      Thanks for the feedback Laura.

      Did you opt for one of their standard themes or did you go for a custom design? If so, how did you find working with the CS Cart theme engine?

  15. Steve Bowler says:

    I used OScommerce, prestashop, joomla + virtuemart, and i migrated to CS-CART.
    I just love Cs-cart, in the beginning i tried community version and a shared hosting just to test it. Adding manually all the products with options and different features was a bit slow, so ………… I spent few days reading all documentation and browsing their forum until i decided that I could use some custom dedicated services.
    I bought the license from a reseller (since it is cheaper) also used their custom dedicated services.

    The best part was, they made a script to import all my products (over 4000 products with more than 7000 features) and moved on a dedicated server.
    I used [Link removed] as a dedicated service provider (I do not know if it is ok to post this, but these guys helped me a alot! from design/ integration /payments gateway / shipping costs / product setup even cron jobs to export my orders directly to suppliers. )

    At the moment i do belive Cs-cart is the best e-commerce software on market.

  16. Intrigued to read about CS-Cart – thanks for the review.

    I’ve been aware of interspire’s lack of commitment issues to BC & ISC for several years and won’t be running with ISC any more. Unfortunately I still have ISC for a handful of client carts and am looking to choose another cart as our preferred option for some new clients. CS-Cart looks interesting: :)

    I am/was also considering Magento but scared of potential pitfalls and level of support required for customisations etc. Also considering Shopify but, while the offer a whitelabel front-end, they don’t in the backend, so bang goes revenue from client’s who will not solely rely on us for support (or not be prepared to pay for it at same levels!)

    Dave : Intrigued by your committment to third-party email/mailing list providers which I’m warm to and fully understand but does this logic not also apply to hosted carts too?

    • Hi Ken – it’s a shame to see another disillusioned Interspire customer. I can assure you your not alone. How a company could drop the ball like this is truly gobsmacking.

      Shopify is a pretty good platform, however I just can’t stomach the fact that they want to charge a transaction fee on every order. It’s a real deal stopper in my opinion.

      I am much more committed to third-party e-mail providers due to the can of worms that is associated with delivering e-mail. Avoiding spam filters and keeping your IP address away from black lists just isn’t a good use of time (and a good way to lose my hair a bit more quickly).

      In regards to hosted e-commerce platforms, it really depends on your technical level and how much you need to customise your store. Site traffic levels and bandwidth limitations can also be a bit of a downfall with hosting platforms, which can get very expensive very quickly. If your store is pretty straightforward and you’re not really technically orientated I would always recommend starting off on hosted carts. Hosted shopping carts can also be a great way to test out a product before investing any serious dollars in a project.

      • Yes. good point re black lists – got the t-shirt :)

        I’m planning to test drive cs-cart – fingers crossed. :)

  17. Hi, we’ve recently moved from Zen Cart to Cs Cart (came very close to going with Interspire). We’re very happy with CS Cart, it does unfortunately, look a bit ordinary out of the box, but much of that can be changed with CSS adjustments, and re-skinning an existing template.

    Just a couple of notes about performance:
    Cs cart does use Smarty templates, and when you’re developing your site, making changes etc, the engine will be SLOW. This is because the template engine has to recompile all of your changes. Once you’re done with the design, the Smarty templates get compiled and run as pure php code (so the myth of having a smarty engine running on top of php at runtime is simply not true)
    Honestly, Im not a big fan of Smarty, but I thought this should be pointed out.

    Interspire, from what I can tell has been relegated to the backblock whilst they focus on their star child Bigcommerce. We installed the Interspire cart, even began converting it to our needs, but it had some really quirky (and buggy) issues with the displaying of tax on products, recognising regions etc, Interspire support were unable to help me.
    The really worrying thing was the thread I found on the Interspire forums where users started asking each other about alternatives to Interspire; what other shopping cart software was out there etc. They also complained about being abandoned and not being looked after. This was really worrying as a:) No one from Interspire responded and b:) the thread wasn’t deleted or moderated in any way. No wonder the users felt abandoned!

    A couple of important notes about Big Commerce (we nearly went with this product too)
    - Its a closed product in that it sits on dedicated servers and you have to live with the features it has. You cannot touch the php code at all, but can (obviously) make changes to the CSS. Now BC looks like a very robust product, don’t get me wrong, but as Dave mentioned at the top of the article, no product is perfect. So in saying that, if you get halfway into adding products, setting up shipping, taxes etc and find BC doesn’t do something you want it to, you’re out of luck.

    - If you have an existing store, it can be very hard to import your existing products, customers etc into BC. I rang them and spoke to them directly (Im in Australia) and they suggested a 3rd party partner who could aid in my migration. They even hinted I might get it for free as this partner gets a lot of work from them. All good so far, but when they contact the partner and ask them to talk to me about doing a site migration, im informed that this partner does not do migrations for anyone outside of the USA! Truly!

    In conclusion, Interspire looks really slick, but isn’t a patch on CS Cart. Its a shame CSC don’t spend a little more effort on their templates and general CSS as the features, the code, the engine etc is truly impressive and fully featured. Having said that, the last release of CSC saw a major visual improvement to the Admin panel (actually looks like Interspires backend lol)
    All in all, we’re very happy with CS Cart (this includes my programmer and head designer) and have no regrets in switching over.
    Cheers,
    Scott.
    P.S. Cs Cart is $285 USD but if you require another license its something like $225! Too cheap I reckon, but Im not complaining. ;-)

  18. Hi

    We are now on our 5th CS-Cart store, having started 6 months back. With the recent speed improvements in V 2, CS-Cart is really feature packed and a performer. You get tons of features, and built in templates for a reasonable price.

    Support is also very professional and courteous.

    Highly Recommended!

  19. We currently run a BigCommerce store and like so many other users are sick of the platform. Major bugs on every new release, poor comms, terrible SEO, bad company attitude, the list goes on.

    We will be launching a new site soon and have been testing the new CS-Cart on a local computer. So far have been blown away with the out of box features and available add-ons. The social login via Janrain is especially exciting (if it does indeed work as described!) Yes, the templates are a bit ugly but have found one that we can tweak slightly for a nice minimalist look.

    Lastly, support appears top-notch as you pay a reasonable fee for credits as you need them and there is a strong open community forum. We can even pay the developers of the software for any customisations we might need in the future.

    I cant wait to get this online to start testing performance.

    • Simon, sorry to hear that you’ve been given the runaround by BigCommerce. I’m afraid your story rings loud to all of us Interspire customers, the company is a repeat offender at treating their customers badly.

      I would love to hear how you get on with CS-Cart once you’re up and running

  20. A year ago I started looking into shoppingcarts. After about 2 months of evaluating, I choose cs-cart.

    Sure, it has some minor issues, but I’m still very happy I did. I does just about everything you can think off.. but the best thing is: the community rocks!!
    The forum members are friendly and extremely helpful.

    And since about 4 months CS-cart support is also very active in the forum.

    My first shop went live after 3 months. It needed quite some customization, which was done by a forum member for …… $ 125 ,- (nothing!)
    I’ve even had forum members going into my server or admin and helping me along the way. I can say I’m now quite good with it myself, and also try to contribute as much as possible.

    My 2nd shop is now also live and doing very well. A 3rd is on the way.

    Greets – Flow

    • Little update here:

      I just updated my shops to cs-cart 2.22 and it rocks. The new admin is fantastic.

      Also, I’ve been trying out Opencart, which is showing a lot of potential. It really is a nice cart, clean code, fast, etc but a bit too basic for my liking. I’d have to buy / install quite some add-on to get it the way I want.

      If you just want a basic shop, this could be the way to go though, since it’s free and there are amazing templates.

  21. David Faul says:

    Meanwhile, the boys have been working hard. The spin cycle must have been on high :)

    http://www.theage.com.au/technology/biz-tech/from-online-chat-buddies-to-hightech-moguls-20110811-1io07.html

    • Wow. That’s a lot of dough.

      Too bad they seem to be forgetting they still have an interspire cart as well. The fora show there are many unhappy customers there who paid loads of money for a cart that is now becoming outdated and is still buggy.

    • Not one mention of Interspire or ISC in this spin.

      Folks, not only is Interspire Shopping Cart in its death throes, but so is the corporate body known as Interspire, and, I predict, all the other products in the stable will soon be ‘End-of-Life’. All of the recent funding is going into Bigcommerce.

      If you value self-hosting products, with excellent support from a company that values your opinion and provides positive ongoing product development, write this down in big letters and stick it on your wall … “I will never buy another Interspire product again”. I’ve just done.

  22. I owe the Big Commerce / Interspire guys a sincere but begrudged ‘Thank You’. Were it not for their terribly buggy updates, leisurely pace at fixing them (if they do at all) & questionable customer service, I may have missed out on CS-Cart which, so far, has been an absolute pleasure to work with. Ride the wave while you can fellas because the foundation you’re building right now seems pretty shaky to me.

  23. I need to get off Network Solutions (nsCommerceSpace ) cart asap and have been looking at Pinnacle Cart, CS-Cart, X-Cart, Big Commerce, 3dCart, etc. (way too many out there!). I do like the idea of a licensed version and wonder if anyone has some insight regarding Pinnacle & X-cart compared to CS-Cart.

    BTW, Pinnacle is the only one of those mentioned that is PA-DSS / PCI compliant. Any thoughts on that issues?

  24. Wow, no wonder the “trail” has gone cold on this site as far as Interspire News…everyone is on this thread talking about CS Cart! LOL, which is good to know. I just setup a store with ISC, and loaded the 2 NEEDED plugins that Dave has made, but will look at CS Cart too now, I only worry, as I ONLY use the templates, and if they don’t have a “good” one I don’t like investing too much in paying for “CSS edits”.

  25. Ajay Chadha says:

    Here is very useful review of CS Cart from the editor of HotScripts.

    http://www.hotscripts.com/listings/editor_review/cs-cart-powerful-shopping-cart-software-and-e-commerce-solutions/

    Seems like CS Cart is going to be a nightmare for Interspire now. CS Cart clearly wins over BigCommerce. Any wise buyer would select CS Cart over BigCommerce now.

  26. I am searching for a multi-vendor shopping cart and came upon C-S Cart. I love the reviews I am reading as it gives me confidence that I am picking the right cart. This is especially difficult for a person like myself who knows very, very little about websites/carts, etc.. My question is if any of you have the multi-vendor cart and how it works for you. I’d love to see your site as well. Thanks again everyone!

  27. I have recently had the most horrific experience with this Russian Company who produce Cs Cart. I have proof for everything I say. Firstly their major releases are bug ridden, as many people suggest purposely as they want you to buy their expensive support. Everybody who uses CS Cart soon becomes aware of this. In my case over the Xmas period their support staff entered my code via FTP without my permission (they had FTP access for another prior problem), they subsequently damaged my site and left it, they then refused to fix the damage they caused insisting that they rolled back the changes and that my site has been extensively developed and therefore I should get a specialist to fix the problem. They just refuse to fix the damage they have caused. I have a back up of my site taken on the 25th Dec 11 and my site Cat Promotion functions were fine, on the 26th after they accessed my Code my site was damaged. Nobody but CS Cart Support had access to my site. This Company has a custom development dept (they pass you on to them after deducting support tickets each time you have a problem, invariably they tell you that your problem is not covered in Support, that you should consider their custom development and ask if you would ike to be redirected to get a quotation – they also deduct tickets even for the quotations they give you – so what trouble would it be, yet they simply refuse to repair what they have done). So I am left during the SALE period without a developer and my site damaged. This is the sort of Compamy you will be dealing with. I would happily explain to every single person in detail why they should avoid CS Cart. Get involved with CS Cart at your peril. I am still shocked at the treatment I have received from them. I have also of course been kicked out of the forum when I posted my experiences with them. They are faceless so naturally they believe they can do what they like without consequence.Please please stay away from CS Cart.

    • This review is questionnable as it appeared exactly as written above on another site, suspect a troll.

      • Hi not a Troll clevercloggs Drew!! Just wondering why you think I should write a different reveiew for every Review site about one identical experience on one software cart? Very nonsensical thing to say.

        Anyway I have an update everyone. I would like the review removed, I do not see an email to request this however. In any case I would like to state that CS Cart have done everything possible to make up for what happened. They gave me months of free support and I would like to thank especially Anastasiya for her excellent communication skills and her patience, kindness and excellent work in hellping me with the problems with the Site. She comes highly recommended. Also Alex who gave me the free support. They are also fixing a few problems via their Custom Development department which I am paying for but the problems that arose via the change made by CS Cart that caused some problems were fixed for FREE.

        The main thing is that a Company takes responsibilty and can be trusted and they have now proven to me that the Guys behind CS Cart do take responsibilty and can be trusted.

        For clevercloggs Drew this is my Website: http://www.motifboutique.com email me as you owe me an apology for calling me a Troll.

        Thanks

        Marina Charalambous

  28. Hm our 4s cart system is based on CS cart but with around 4000h of extra work on top of it so I would say we know the system as well as cs cart does.

    CS cart out of the box has bugs however they are usually minor and can be easily fixed (there is hardly any software in the world which is bug free) but it’s a good cart and if you choose a good development company for your project you will also have good support and someone who looks after you.

    We, for example, support all our customers 100% and have emergency weekend support. There will be never the need to contact cs cart directly if you encounter any problems.

    Relying on OS support teams who have not developed and know your your site in detailed is always risky and not recommended.

    regards

    Steve

  29. Marina,

    First of all, your shop looks lovely! I’m very impressed.

    Of course it’s very bad what happened. However, I’m running 3 cs-cart based online shops and am really happy with it. It is definitely much better, stable, and flexible then any other system I have used (interspire, magento -way too difficult for me- , 3dcart, avactis, and so on).

    I have only good experiences with cs-carts team: they are usually fast and good. I use another team though now, simply because they are cheaper and also deliver great work.

    About the bugs: yes, there are some small bugs in new releases sometimes but they usually have a new version out in a couple of days and / or provide fixes in the bug tracker. Also, I have never worked with any shopping system that did not have bugs.

    A couple of tips for people running a serious shop:

    Never edit or update your live website. Make a copy, make the changes there, and when you are happy copy the updated files to your live shop.

    If you have had lots of customizations, only let the developers who know this on your site, or.. again, let the new developers edit the copy of your website.

    I can’t stress enough how important especially this is. People make mistakes, you, your developers, or in this case the company behind the original program. Accept this, let people work on a non-live site, and never have this stress again.

  30. Oh one more thing… @ Marina – you should really turn on the SEO add-on and get nice URLs.

  31. Alexandra says:

    Dear all,

    I have seen all your comments about CS Cart which make me more confident in it, with regards to some horrible comments I have read on other forums about bugs, CSC being very slow, and the customer support..
    I am willing to start a boutique based on a multi vendor model, which CSC has, but cannot find many competitors. I heard Magento, X-cart and a few others have this option.
    Has anyone worked with the CSC multivendor cart? What would be your opinion an recommendation on it?
    Do you know any other multivendor cart that would be a good alternative?
    I am not an expert in design/development etc therefore the choice is hard for me. Being based in Europe, Magento here is quite expensive, we do not have many developers on it..

    Thanks a lot!

    Alexandra

  32. Alexandra,

    If you have 20k laying around, build a nice magento website and expect another 10 to 20k per year for editing and development plus the costs for a dedicated server (Magento is super slow and server heavy). Don’t even think about trying this yourself if you don’t have experience… you will be dependant on your webdeveloper – which is i think, a horrible thing.

    If you are handy with pc’s, know what FTP is, and maybe even what cpanels is, cs-cart is a great option. I have 3 live webshops running on it and it’s going very well. Yes it has a few bugs, but most have been fixed in the new versions and if you find a new one cs-cart usually fixes it in a couple of days.

    Really, the new versions are stable and on the customer side (admin side is always a bit slower for technical reasons) super fast when you run in on proper hosting, whether this is a vps or shared. I also read the horror stories, but these always come from people who expect to have a webshop up & running in 3 days without any knowledge whatsoever. They are not willing to learn and put effort in it. And believe me, it will take effort and patience starting an online shop!

    Then when they don’t succeed they start blaming the software, while almost everytime it’s their own fault. Believe me, I also started without any knowledge 2 years ago. But now I know my way around the cart, my server, etc and only hire a developer for the really difficult stuff.
    Thing is: you simply can not expect to be up & running within a month, or mostly 2 – with any software – if you have no experience. It took me about 2,5 but I worked my ass off and the shop was quite basic.

    My advice: either dive into it and expect it to take months. Don’t get frustrated, and ask for help when needed. The cs-cart forum is fantastic and almost every question you can have is already answered there, or in the cs-cart knowledge base.

    People also help each other all the time, send each other free custom files and so on.

    I’m also from the EU (I’m Dutch, but run 2 of my shops from Germany)…

    My advice is: install the free version first. Get used to the system, have some fun, make mistakes… and then move on.

    If you need more advice on how to begin (hosting, etc) feel free to email me (find Flow on the cs-cart forum).

    Good luck!

  33. Dear Flow,
    Thank you so much for your reply and kind advice! It is really appreciated and of great value!
    I just suscribed to the trial version and excited to know more about it!

    I will surely contact you in the future! Many thanks again.

    Best,

    Alexandra

  34. Good to hear Alexandra.

    btw: version 3 is coming soon and it looks like it will be a fantastic upgrade. With mega menu, grid positioning, and a lot of design-tuning.

    I don’t know if the new version will come with a lot of bugs, but you might want to play around with 2.24 for now, and go live with the new version after some time so you don’t have upgrade problems (upgrades between full versions are usually more difficult then upgrades between the same branch which are usually just a click of a button if you don’t have main template edits -(that are almost never needed because you can use hooks – a really smart solution).

    • Alexandra says:

      Hi Flow!

      Thank you for the tip!

      As for the upgrades, are these yearly upgrades the same than the ones operated on a regular basis to a regular website? I mean, say you have an e-commerce website developed by an agency from an open source solution, you need to allocate a budget for the maintenance, right… Are these upgrades the same thing, or is it another thing and then I would need to allocate budget for maintenance, additionally to upgrades?

      Same question for SEO? We are usually supposed to allocate a budget for SEO, but it is supposed to be integrated in CS Cart… My question is, do we still need to allocate an additional budget for additional optimization, or not? Is the SEO of CS Cart sufficient?

      Thank you for your thoughts on this!
      Sorry about these naive questions but I am really new to CS Cart and would like to have the insight of real-users to have real-experience feedback :).

      Thank you!

      Best regards,

      Alexandra

      • The Upgrades are not in yearly cycles but come out every couple of month
        to fix bugs and introduce new features. depending on what CS cart changes
        and how your template is implemented they may go well or may cause problems
        hence we first update all customers carts on our development server to ensure
        there are no problems.

        In regards to maintenance beside updates you should be able to maintain the cart yourself as it’s fairly straight forward but if you need modifications or new features that would be a extra cost.

        We for example offer fixed support plans which give you between a 4 and 36 hour guaranteed response time
        depending on the chosen plan in case something goes wrong.

        SEO comprises a wide field of tasks you undertake to get better ranking, one of the basic tasks is the onsite
        optimisation, CS cart is generally pretty SEO friendly but we actually have written a couple of addons like our blog add-on
        which will help to improve ranking. You definitely should have a budget for ongoing SEO, if you like sent us an email
        and we sent you our 6 page SEO FAQ which will probably answer a lot of your questions.

        Best regards

        Steve

  35. Hi Alexandra,

    I’ll try to be quick, and clear:

    With a good template and proper use of hooks an upgrade within the same branch (for example 2.12 to 2.13) should be a one click thing. I’ve just upgraded some sites from 2.12 to 2.24 and it took exactly 5 minutes.
    Of course if you want to play it save, I again recommend doing this on a copy of your website first. Just to be sure….

    Hooks are little pieces of code that are called from within the main templates. This way edits to your website stay intact even when you upgrade (templates will be upgraded – but will still call your hooks at the correct location).

    CS-cart has 100′s of places where hooks are already implemented. The only thing you have to do to make hook is:

    First turn on the My Changes addon.
    Look for the correct hook filename, and decide if you want your code to come before, after, or simply overwrite. For example…..: Let’s say you want the bottom of your template to act and look different. The you simply

    Create a file and call it for example:
    bottom.override.tpl

    Here you put your edited code in (a lot of times you copy and paste this from the template and just change 1 or 2 lines, for example to turn something on or off).

    You save the file in the right location (ie skins/YOUR_SKIN/customer/addons/my_changes/hooks/index)

    Clear cs-carts cache.

    It will now load the code from your hook instead of the code from the template and this will be remembered during upgrades.

    Now, an upgrade to a new branch (3 is coming out) will take more time, because the cart is really getting an overhaul.

    I would however always take into account you will probably need a developer to do some small things. Good things is cs-cart is much easier to work with then Magento and development usually is not expensive. There are also many, many add-ons already that are freely distributed on the forum.

    SEO wise: cs-cart has totally clean urls, you can choose meta title, and so on. It’s actually very good out of the box.

    However, SEO is not so much a matter of building your site so google likes it. SEO is an organic thing… simply said: you need backlinks to you site! How do you get these? By writing good content, having nice products, implementing social media buttons, etc. And get out there… talk along on blogs that are of interest to your website!

    All that is much more important. Even though the people selling you shopping carts tell you their cart is the best seo wise… I always notice with clients that have not much knowledge about seo, is that they think that if we build the site right they will rank high. Of course we do always take seo into account, but it’s not a matter of waiting until your website scores into the top ten. Cause it won’t :)

    • Alexandra says:

      Hi Flow just a quick very late message to thank you for your help and comments!
      I chose to go with it and I am working on it at the moment.

  36. I like CS-CART but it has no brand(manufacturer) field.
    That is why I cannot migrate from ISC to CS-CART.
    Yes, I can put the brand into feature section.
    Yes, I can export it on google feed if I purchase a custom google feed addon.
    But the url is not like doman/brand/XXX.
    That is so stupid that CS-CART team did not consider brand field yet.
    I have a huge traffic on brand page url from google.
    If someone can modify it, I am really willing to pay for it and purchase cs-cart.

    • Sang, I have a free add-on that adds the feature “brand” to the product page. It’s clickable and brings the customer to the brandpage.

      See my website for a free download. It’s only working for 2.2x at the moment but I will update it for cs-cart 3 soon.

  37. Hi Sang,

    That certainly can be done as a custom modification if you are interested please contact us and we can discuss.

    We also have a more detailed shop by brand addon which you can see here http://www.silvaback.com.au/ however the brand URL would need to be written.

    Best regards

    Steve

  38. I’m glad I found your site. I recently converted from a Big Commerce site to a CS-Cart site. The main reason was the lack of development for their ISC in favor of their cash cow, Big Commerce. When I signed up with BC my intention was to learn all I could on BC and then purchase a ISC license. The sales team at BC couldn’t understand why anyone would want to own an ISC instead of a BC site. I tried explaining to them, including the BC sales manger in Austin, TX, that BC wasn’t cost effective for me since my store would have somewhere between 1500 and 2000 items for sale, but 300 + of those items would be “future release” items and I would not be generating income from them until they are released. Because of this I would need their $149.99 per month store. I wasn’t about to spend $1800.00 to rent a website when I could own one for the same amount of money. And yes, I did consider the other ancillary cost of owning a site as opposed to renting one.

    I looked at every possible cart on the market I could get a demo of and finally chose CS-Cart. Life with CSC has been relatively painless, not perfect, but nothing I couldn’t live with. And it’s a good thing it is. The main failing of CSC is it’s mediocre support once I bought the program. While demoing the program their support couldn’t have been better. They answered every question quickly and efficiently. All of that changed once I bought the program. Questions now asked of tech support now got answers saying that the the problem could be solved by a custom solution costing between $100.00 and $200.00. The other complaint I have with CSC is it’s backend. The admin area is adequate, not spectacular. There’s no built in way to market to existing customers or even a way to generate a report of who bought what. Also in the backend, while CSC is great at customizing your homepage with sale items and other blocks, populating those blocks is a pain in the a**. I cannot populate the sales block or the future release block from the edit item page it must be done from the block itself. I have other little peeves but if I could find a CSC coder they could all be fixed.

  39. Hi Dave
    Quite a few of these reviews & comments are quite old – which is fine. In your opinion has anything changed. Its just all very confusing for some of us.

    Regards

    • I agree. No comments since July 2012…

      How can this be?

      I’ve used CSC since about 4 years ago and I must say that it worked better before. We’re now running the 3.0.6 Ultimate Edition.

      Sure, the design has improved a lot, but now it’s only one template.

      They have a lot of nice features apart from some very basic ones, like fixed prices for different currencies and ability to block certain regions for certain pages/sites.

      The support seems to be under staffed, since it now takes at least 2-3 days before you get an answer. They have admitted this themselves, but nothing have happened so far…

      We’re now thinking of going over to a WP based site and web shop solution, that is easier to control and program.

      • Ted, I very much suggest you look at cs-cart 4 which is being released in about 2 weeks. It will allow you to build your own skin in no-time and probablt the biggest improvement is that cs-cart now has an API and it will be much, much faster (2 to 3 times faster than version 3 and even faster than version 2).

        I would never, ever run a serious webshop in wordpress. I run about 15 active wordpress sites for clients and while they are great for blogging and to build a nice website on quickly, there is always something wrong (most of the time, plugins that break) and the amount of wordpress sites that are hacked is enormous.

        • Thanks for the update Flow.

          I’ve seen that version 4 is coming, but this could take a while and probably you need to pay extra for the upgrade again.

          The speed is of great value though, right now it’s not very fast.

          I hear what you’re saying reg WP. The reason for thinking of using WP is that we will have a site/blog that we want to connect seamlessly to the shop. So you can browse around the site and still have access to the cart etc. I guess this could be done with the new API features, but still it’s quite some work to be done.

  40. Hello Ted,

    a WP site will not be easier to maintain or control I would argue rather the opposite. If you do not upgrade WP you are always in serious danger of having your site exploited and you will see often problems with addon compatibility after updates.

    Cs cart is not that fast but even version 3 can be made reasonably fast with a couple of tweaks.

    We also have written a extensive blog addon which Will provide you many of the features you have in WordPress without the downsides, and everything can be maintained from your CS cart back end.

    cheers

    Steve

  41. it will be up on our web site by the end of this week (just moving from WP to Cs Cart) you can also see the functionality here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkenv2ue3tw

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