CS-Cart: Shopping Cart Software Editor's Review


Editor's rating

The editor's rating is calculated based on the average of the following criteria, rated on a
scale of 1 of 5:

  • Installation: 5
  • Features: 4
  • Interface: 5
  • Customization: 5
  • Help and support: 5

Bottom line

"CS-Cart is undoubtedly one of the most flexible and user-friendly e-commerce applications I have seen in years." - Ahmad Permessur, Editor - HotScripts.com

Pros and cons

Pros

  • It has 100% open-source code that includes a development API.
  • It integrates with dozens of payment gateways and shipping providers.
  • It includes countless free add-ons that allow you to expand its capabilities. (Additional add-ons can be purchased.)
  • Stores selling digital or subscription-based products are well catered to.
  • It includes some decent marketing tools such as a newsletter mailing list program, reward points you can offer your customers and cross-selling opportunities.
  • It handles merchandising and inventory tracking perfectly.
  • It supports HTTPS/SSL along with other security considerations and meets PCI compliance.
  • It is SEO optimized through SEO-friendly URLs and custom META tags for products or categories.
  • It can generate powerful reports with the option to save custom reports.
  • It has a polished administrative backend aimed at increasing your workflow.

Detailed review

CS-Cart is a PHP e-commerce solution with flexibility and simplicity at its core. It has been around since 2005 and has matured as a feature-rich, easily managed, all-in-one solution for online stores.

Its installation is straightforward, and if you have installed PHP scripts before, you should have no trouble getting up and running with CS-Cart. It has been designed to work in most hosting environments and doesn’t require any complex configuration or software dependencies. I’d personally recommend choosing to install some sample products and categories during setup — that should help you better understand the functionalities of CS-Cart rather than starting from scratch.

The administrative area of CS-Cart blew me away. It is visually pleasing and well organized without being either too overwhelming for novice users or too dumbed down for experienced ones. The dashboard gives you a bird’s eye view of your store. It displays a list of recently ordered products, a quick breakdown of revenue generated, and your inventory, including out-of-stock products. Managing your orders, products and customers is easy — all options are just a click away, and the AJAX-powered interface has been carefully thought through to radically improve your workflow. After playing around with the backend for a while, I can definitely see how it can help store owners overcome frustrating tasks like handing product returns, printing packaging slips or generating custom sales reports.

Each online store is different with its own business model. The lack of unnecessary gimmicks makes CS-Cart flexible enough to adapt to any store requirements. You can define custom fields for your products or specify product options on a per-product or per-category basis. CS-Cart can also handle digital products, which is ideal if you plan on selling items like software, ebooks or other multimedia products. It also supports recurring billing, which allows you to create and sell subscriptions for your products. Features like these are available in many e-commerce applications, but the ways that these are so easy to configure through CS-Cart demonstrate its edge over competing products.

The interface has the same simplicity and flexibility on the frontend. This makes the CS-Cart public store view sleek and usable through its streamlined navigation and excellent error handling. I ran a few different test orders, and the overall experience was satisfactory — CS-Cart’s one-page checkout is definitely a plus. Several features help promote your visitors' shopping experience, with real-time shipping calculation, customized product recommendations and order tracking being a few of them.

CS-Cart gives you total control of your store’s design and behavior. All aspects of your store can be customized through the administrative backend. When you enable the "Design mode," the frontend of your website displays editable zones that bring up the template editor. This is a real time-saver because you don’t have to drill down template files to figure out which template(s) to edit. To customize the blocks of content on the sidebars or header/footer areas, a "block manager" allows you to drag and drop the blocks to change their placements. CS-Cart’s developers even took this to another level by allowing you to edit block placements on a per-product basis.

Overall, CS-Cart exceeded my expectations in several areas. Although it looks slim and easy on the surface, it boasts a lot of advanced features and flexibility that will appeal to many store owners.

Screenshots

 
Disclosure

This is an editorial review; not a recommendation. All editorial reviews, some of which we may receive compensation to perform, express our objective findings and experiences with the specific product (including version) under review. The review expressed is of the editor only. Any product claim, statistic, or other representation should be verified with the provider.