|CS-Cart standout features|
|Best for||Small-sized businesses who want an easy-to-use platform to launch with; midsize and enterprise businesses looking to scale and refine|
|Promotion||15-day free trial|
What Are the Pros and Cons of CS-Cart?
While CS-Cart offers business owners an opportunity to save on monthly costs and fees, it’s important to look into the inclusions and add-ons that you’ll have to calculate into the final licensing costs. Although it can be used for various small- and midsize businesses that can afford the costs and fees, larger brands stand to get the most possible benefit from it.
Read on to learn more about what you can expect from choosing CS-Cart as your e-commerce software solution.
Pros of CS-Cart:
- Easy-to-use page editor: I appreciated how easy it was to update pages with the native page editor, and that you don’t need any add-on services to enhance your page’s SEO quality or presentation. Everything is done through a centralized page editor housed in the admin panel.
- Versatility of goods and service support: Unlike other e-commerce solutions, this allows you to sell both physical and virtual products and subscription services or gigs. There isn’t a limit to what can be done or sold, as the platform supports in-depth product descriptions and feature resource creation to boost your chances of converting your sale.
- Rich native SEO tools and editability: Updating your site’s SEO strategy can be done in just a few clicks with the admin panel’s relevant section. You can access any necessary redirects, page data, or other elements without needing a secondary service or developmental pro.
- Open-source structure: CS-Cart is a completely open-source tool, which means you’ll have easier access to updates, advanced developmental capabilities, and fixes from other experts in the field. It also increases the possibility of future helpful third-party add-ons and integrations.
- Professional site structure and appearance: When I launched my store, I was happily surprised to see how professionally it was organized – offering me a strong starting point to tailor and refine. Although it is less editable and customizable than other services in its space, the comprehensive design was detailed and helpful enough to nearly overcome that disadvantage.
- Multi-vendor options for diverse marketplace structures: If your business features a unique marketplace structure, the CS-Cart multi-vendor licensure is the solution. It allows CS-Cart to function as a marketplace platform with vendor management assistance and customer relationship management (CRM) software, presented to your customers as a single, sleek storefront.
Cons of CS-Cart:
- The software is dense: It took several days for me to explore every area of this software, which could pose a significant learning curve and hindrance to business owners looking to launch quickly. If you are choosing this software, be sure to build in time to adapt and transition any pre-existing processes you have. The migration may be more demanding than it would be with other services.
- There are fewer customization options: Compared to other sites, there are fewer opportunities to aesthetically customize the site. While I found the design comprehensive and easy to navigate, this may not be the best choice if you want an extremely tailored, customized storefront.
- It costs more than other services: CS-Cart is more expensive than others in the space. However, it does have more to offer in the way of SEO support and order management – which could help you to save more on monthly fees.
The CS-Cart store design library is diverse and works similarly to Wix’s template assortment and selection process. I found more than 200 themes in the CS-Cart marketplace. These themes have associated costs, which are important to factor into your overall budget and design process.
However, the ease of setup for the themes justifies the cost. The site offers a no-code storefront customization option via a native theme editor, which made it easy for me to toggle backgrounds, colors, and fonts. If you have adequate coding experience, the template editor also allows for HTML/CSS customization for more personalized looks.
Over the course of this review, I grew to appreciate just how complete the trial template truly was. It was more limited in customization options and design aesthetics (such as with Squarespace or more advanced WordPress storefronts). But it certainly provided everything I needed in a very minimalist, and sleek storefront.
With CS-Cart, I chose between two main ways to add my items: either via bulk-add for larger catalogs or manually. Multi Variant Bulk Order allowed me to add products to the cart in bulk using a single add to cart button and select the quantity in accordance with their variant or color type (such as small, medium, or large).
You can easily access the bulk-add option by going to the “Products” tab in the admin panel of the shop. Simply navigate to the right-hand side of the page and click the gear, choosing the “bulk product addition” option. Then toggle the on-screen prompts and migrate items to your shop.
It is easy to edit your product descriptions at any time in the “Products” tab, to toggle features, variation settings, SEO tools, and any sort of relevant “buy together” or reward options to enhance your customer experience. Also, you can edit any relevant shipping information by-product for a more personalized approach to e-commerce store shipping.
A great native feature that I haven’t seen commonly across platforms is the video gallery – allowing your customers a tailored walk-through experience of each product’s use and “feel” virtually. It’s very thorough and offers you different options and SEO tools to help boost your organic reach.
Abandoned cart recovery
The abandoned cart recovery feature is housed in the “Orders” tab of the admin panel. I found it an especially helpful insight for tailoring my retention strategy. You can see a live feed of customers currently shopping and who have abandoned their carts. This data is tracked separately by storefront as of CS 4.15.x.
While this information is helpful, I didn’t find an easily accessible way to translate this information into an abandoned cart campaign. You would have to manually track and review chronically open carts or non-converting customers as you refine your strategy and outreach.
To enhance the native tool, you can consider the Abandoned Cart Recovery PRO add-on in the CS-Cart marketplace, as well as any other third-party abandoned cart email tools of your choice.
CS-Cart gives visibility into your SEO impact on every page of your site, offering an exclusive tab under the “Website” area for SEO rule tracking, redirect management, and your robots.txt files. I was also able to customize SEO elements by product listing and subpage, allowing a comparable range of flexibility that you’d see with WordPress or other more tailored platforms.
The on-page SEO customization area by listing offers a variety of ways to tailor your strategy. These include editability on key elements such as:
- SEO page name
- Page title
- Meta description
- Meta keywords
- Rich snippet preview
- Video and image description
These tools, also available in the multi-vendor licensure package, are designed to help you to rank organically in your space. If you’re looking for more enhanced services and benefits, consider any of the available SEO add-ons in the CS-Cart shop.
CS-Cart goes the extra mile to make customer transactions completely seamless for both seller and client – integrating UX-based strategies and a variable payment gateway system that can accommodate over 50 international payment processors natively.
Some of the most common options include:
- Merchant Warrior
- PayPal and PayPal Pro
A single-window payment experience can help customers more easily complete the transaction, minimizing the risk of bounces throughout the payment process.
Another benefit is the lack of transaction fees. I confirmed with customer service that no transaction fees currently apply across any of the service’s licensure plans, giving e-commerce business owners a way to save in the long run.
I also appreciated the international serviceability and range of options natively included in CS-Cart, which helps to give the global e-commerce community a second option and platform to consider for their businesses.
CS-Cart offers a convenient mobile application that’s optimized for its multi-vendor license holders. In testing, I was able to conveniently and quickly view and manage my shop.
While the multi-vendor site and template designs are created to be intuitive and mobile-friendly, I found loading speeds problematic for more intensive operational tasks and site support.
Certain multi-vendor license holders can create a mobile application that’s essentially white-labeled for their store. This is possible because the current application is created off of open-source code. You can give the development team all the information necessary (such as a style guide and links) and completely configure the look and feel of your app, which gives you a new way to connect with customers.
I appreciated that CS-Cart offers multiple convenient ways to handle your inventory management tasks. The first method, featured in the image above, is with an at-a-glance style dashboard that shows your total sales, product count, out-of-stock items, and other important counts.
You can also get more accurate tracking by setting your inventory properties to “track without options,” which tabulates the total number of product types without variation. The other choice is the “track with options” that lets you count by variation amount and type.
I was able to set low stock thresholds for easier item management. You can find this under the “General” tab in Settings, where you set the amount needed to trigger an email notification regarding the stock levels of each product. It’s especially helpful to set inventory to “track with options” for greater data and reporting accuracy.
CS-Cart offers a comprehensive suite of email tools to help you create compelling campaigns for your clients. I liked the full range of editability across SMTP server settings, how you “present” to clients from your vendor email experience, and the ability to add encryption to my communications.
The interface does have a decentralized design, housing newsletter templates, campaign settings, and mailing list functionality under the “Marketing” tab. This can be a bit of a learning curve as it’s completely separate from the other e-mail settings.
Once launched, the native editor was easy to use. It lacks some graphic and aesthetic elements I’ve used in design services such as Klaviyo or Mailchimp.
Reporting and analytics
Reporting and analytics are housed in a single centralized dashboard in the “Home” area of the Admin panel, which covers several key metrics. These include elements such as:
- Registered customers
- Out-of-stock products
- Order statuses (complete, open, failed, processed, back-ordered)
- Abandoned carts
- Total order amount
I found the reporting and analytics options available in both the basic CS-Cart licensure and multi-vendor licensure options very light compared to competitors such as BigCommerce or Wix. It’s far less comprehensive with little to no marketing tracking support for strategy refinement or operational updates. I saw very few add-ons in the CS-Cart marketplace that would add value either, as they instead focus on tasks surrounding reporting, such as the generation of summarized sales reports and export of files.
CS-Cart offers a range of customizable shipping options, so I was able to set my shipping policies en masse or by item and opt for either manual or real-time rate calculation. You can also choose to go with free shipping if that better suits the needs of your business.
CS-Cart currently offers shipping options through Canada Post, DHL, FedEx, Swiss Post, UPS, U.S. Postal Service, and Australia Post. The comprehensive shipping guide provides you with more information about specific partnerships and setup options.
CS-Cart is very transparent with business owners about how it protects its open-source structure. It conducts regular and rigorous cybersecurity testing and code review for every in-license element. The company has also incorporated built-in protection from cross-site scripting and request forgery operations (CSRF) that could compromise your store.
It also includes secure data transfer channels via various encryption methods at the database level, giving your clients the confidence they need to buy.
CS-Cart has a more limited customer support range than other e-commerce tools; this can be difficult for business owners who need additional technical and onboarding support. E-commerce shop owners with Customer Care Standard (included with Standard licenses) can access a limited number of requests via chat and additional support options.
While both are helpful, the chat and related support pages and forums aren’t suitable for in-depth technical needs. They’re designed to be a customer service resource for account questions and other lighter topics. User experience varies depending on the customer service representative you’re sent to.
Additional support options include:
- Chat: This option is convenient, although the staff adheres to specific support hours. I received a response in about five minutes. You can access this feature through the native chat support “bubble” to the bottom right-hand side of your dash or via WhatsApp.
- Support ticket: It took longer for me to get a support ticket response (24 to 48 hours). This type of support is suited for light developmental questions or account support tasks.
- Documentation and community forums: Helpful tools for those who prefer written tutorials and community assistance with common problems.
- Video tutorials: If you’re looking for a more advanced support method or prefer to follow along with a verbal guide, this is a good option.
- Developer for hire: If you get stuck, you may consider hiring a contracted developer from its pool of specialists. This a strong choice if you’re dealing with specific roadblocks or are looking for new ways to take your site to the next level.
Greater support is available via yearly or monthly support packages. Consider the overall annual cost if you’re planning on purchasing customer care options. Currently, Customer Care Plus licensure is $2,000 per year. With it, you’ll get:
- Unlimited requests: Concierge assistance with any element of your store’s function and developmental needs.
- Site modifications: Four minor modifications of CS-Cart’s back-end code per year, giving you a more tailored website experience.
- Website updates: Automatic website updates whenever new CS-Cart updates come out.
Alternatively, you could go with Customer Care Ultimate ($3,600 per year), which includes the standard licensure perks plus:
- Online chat support: Helpful for one-off questions and basic support on daily tasks.
- Web server configuration: Great for a more optimized and competitive site experience, giving you better overall performance.
- Mobile app assistance: If you qualify for a mobile app (via the select multi-vendor licensure plans), you can have concierge assembly and maintenance, ideal for non-tech-savvy or busy business owners.
- Dedicated care team support: Two hours per week of dedicated customer care and service to enhance your CS-Cart experience for yourself, your team, and your clients.
Compare CS-Cart Alternatives
CS-Cart is a competitive tool for e-commerce. However, it may be too much for your needs or budget, and you may be better off going with competing services such as Shopify, Wix, or PinnacleCart. Read on to learn more about how CS-Cart compares to other platforms in the e-commerce space:
Frequently Asked Questions About CS-Cart
How much does CS-Cart cost?
You can do a 15-day trial period on any one of CS-Cart’s license options. After that, you’ll determine if you need the basic CS-Cart licensure or the multi-vendor licensure for marketplace-style businesses. CS-Cart basic licenses cost $1,350, or you can upgrade to $4,500 with an additional free one-year access to upgrades and 60 days of tech support.
If you opt for multi-vendor, expect to pay $1,450, or $3,500 if you want multi-vendor plus and the ability to white-label an app for your business.
Do you need to be a designer or developer to use CS-Cart?
What do you need to start selling on CS-Cart?
Can you use your own domain name with CS-Cart if you already have a website?
How many products can you sell on CS-Cart?
Can you have multiple stores on CS-Cart?
How I Rated CS-Cart
I test e-commerce providers based on the following factors:
- Value: What do you get for each plan — and does it hit that sweet spot of cost ratio to features?
- Ease of use: Is it simple to use the platform with intuitive tools, familiar interfaces, and supportive tutorials or tours?
- Features: Does the platform offer tools that support your business, including marketing integrations, plug-ins, reporting, and management? How effective are the features?
- Security: Which measures does the platform take to protect your business? Does it offer Payment card industry (PCI) compliance and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates?
- Support and improvements: How well does the platform help when you need it? And will it continue to grow with your needs?
Learn more about our review methodology.