CS-Cart Free Version Is No Longer Available

By Yan Kulakov, May 11th, 2016 in News and announcements

Hi,

A heads-up that CS-Cart 4.3.7 no longer has the free mode.

Why?

Well, in analyzing the eCommerce market we understood that we need to focus on a single direction—paid professional eCommerce solutions. We arrived at a consensus that we need to work for those customers who are ready to invest in their businesses.

By concentrating our resources in that direction, we’ll be able to reach our goal—making CS-Cart a perfect shopping cart with the best support and service of all other eCommerce solutions.

Best Support and Service?

As we mentioned, our goal is to make CS-Cart the leading shopping platform among paid eCommerce softwares. It’s a big task we’ve laid out for ourselves over the foreseeable future, but we can share our short-term plans today:

  • Technical support based on SLA (Service-Level Agreement). SLA is an agreement between us as a service provider and a customer. This agreement will plainly describe the responsibilities and scope and quality of our support service, which will make the service clear and its quality measurable. This means our support team will react faster within the defined period in the agreement and will resolve customer issues satisfactorily.
  • Two new CS-Cart editions for the most demanding customers. These editions will be complete packages with unique features and premium support. Customers will be able to choose an edition that best suits their eCommerce projects. Stay tuned to our blog not to miss the announcement.
  • Absolutely transparent pricing. You will always know how much you pay and what for. For example, for upgrading a store that has several storefronts we now charge for each storefront. Previously, didn’t expect that and got confused. But no longer. We plan to improve our pricing policy to avoid such extra fees.

What Now?

Newcomers who start from CS-Cart 4.3.7 now have 2 options after CS-Cart installation: trying CS-Cart free for 30 days and buying a license. After a 30-day trial, they must buy a license to continue using CS-Cart.

Actual free version users with live stores continue using CS-Cart legally. But they miss out on 3 important things that guarantee security, feature richness, and no downtimes of their stores:

  • No upgrades to newer versions. It’s important to regularly upgrade your store to keep up with new features, optimizations, and bug fixes. We regularly enhance security and performance. For example, the latest version supports PHP 7 and full-page caching, which dramatically increase the speed and stamina of CS-Cart.
  • No support. Our support specialists are the guys we are really proud of. They can save the day and keep your store running without downtimes. With the free version, you’re on your own against store and server issues.
  • No must-have eCommerce features. With the free CS-Cart version you can sell, yes. But you cannot become a big player and compete with bigger online stores. The reason—the free version doesn’t have the most important eCommerce features that bigger stores have: cross-selling tools, customer reviews, reward points system, and more.

What Do You Get with the License?

As we mentioned above, the license unlocks must-have eCommerce features and allows you to upgrade and get professional support. Take a good look at what you get with the license.

Premium Technical Support

Sometimes you can encounter issues in the store or on the server. Some of them are minor and some can paralyze your store. The longer the downtime, the more money you lose. In this case, you need help ASAP. Our support team provides fast and professional help.

Before becoming a part of our support team, each candidate receives intense training. Each must pass a tough test to become a certified support expert. After their initial training, support specialists continue to improve their skills: they forward the most complicated issues to our architects and get the advice that solves the most complex of issues and keeps your business running.

Over 50 Built-In Add-Ons

The add-ons expand the functionality of your store and help increase conversion, average purchase size, and make your store more trustworthy and friendly in customers’ eyes. The free version only had 14 add-ons, but the license gives you access to over 50 add-ons, such as:

  • Cross-selling add-ons: Bestsellers & On-Sale Products, Buy Together, Customers Also Bought, and Required Products. These add-ons help you sell more to each customer, which increases the average purchase size. Use these cross-selling tools to offer more useful products to your customers.
  • Comments and Reviews. With this add-on, customers can post reviews for products and comment on the blog. Feedback from real customers makes your store look trustworthy and helps other customers to choose the right product.
  • Google Analytics. Metrics is essential for analyzing the effectiveness of your marketing. This add-on integrates your store with the Google analytic service, which provides detailed statistics about your visitors and gives a powerful insight into your store traffic. By monitoring the statistics you know on what marketing aspect you need to concentrate.
  • Reward Points. Thanks to this add-on, your customers get reward points when buying products. They can spend these points to pay for other products or reduce a product’s price. This tool motivates customers to buy more and makes them return to your store.
  • Newsletters. This add-on allows you to benefit from email marketing without using paid email services, such as MailChimp. Send newsletters to your customers right from your store.

Powerful Marketing Promotion System

The promotion system allows you to offer your customers bonuses, such as free shipping and discounts. To get a bonus, a customer must fulfill conditions.

CS-Cart has two types of promotions: catalog promotions and cart promotions. In the free version, you could only use catalog promotions that gave product discounts. The licensed version unlocks cart promotions that offer more bonuses and conditions:

Other Cool Features

One post isn’t really enough to talk about all the advantages of the full CS-Cart version, so here are a few extra cool features that we’d like to mention:

  • Multiple storefronts—connect additional storefronts and manage them via a single admin panel (you’ll need to purchase additional storefront licenses).
  • User groups—assign customers to user groups and set privileges for your managers.
  • Multiple languages and currencies—add as many languages and currencies as you need.

And much more…

Any Discount for Buying the License?

Yes! We offer a 30% discount coupon to current free version users, which will work until and including May 17, 2016. After that date, the coupon becomes inactive. We’ll send the coupon to all the free version owners via email within a day, so monitor your mailboxes.

The coupon code that you’ll receive in the email is for free version owners only. Please do not disclose the coupon code anywhere on the Internet and do not share it with anyone.

To buy a license using the discount coupon, click the button below, add the CS-Cart license to the cart, and enter the coupon code to the Got a promo code? field.

Presenting CS-Cart and Multi-Vendor 4.3.7 with Admin Improvements and without Free Mode

By Yan Kulakov, May 10th, 2016 in CS-Cart releases, News and announcements

Hello, how are you?

Meet the new minor upgrade—CS-Cart and Multi-Vendor 4.3.7.

A major change in CS-Cart 4.3.7 is that the the free version is no longer available. Also, the upgrade brings five usability improvements for store administrators:

  • A customer can specify the email subject when sending it to the administrator through a form.
  • An admin can create statuses for shipments, so managers who usually process many orders don’t get confused.
  • In Multi-Vendor, admins can enable a shipping method for all the vendors with a single click.
  • The Store Import add-on doesn’t come with the installation package—admins download it free from the CS-Cart Marketplace.
  • PayPal In-Context Checkout is enabled by default in the new CS-Cart installations.

See other changes in the changelog.

No Free Version for Newcomers

Removing the free mode from CS-Cart was the biggest change that we discussed.

By analyzing the eCommerce market, we arrived at the consensus that we need to concentrate our resources on a single direction—the highest-quality product with the best service and support among paid eCommerce solutions.

Starting from CS-Cart 4.3.7, the free mode is no longer available. Now after CS-Cart installation, you have two options: you can try CS-Cart free for 30 days or you can buy a license.

Actual free version users with live stores continue using CS-Cart legally. However, when they decide to upgrade, they will have to buy a license. We offer a 30% discount coupon to free version users who decide to buy the license immediately. Monitor your mailboxes not to miss the email containing the coupon.

Please carefully read this post explaining our decision to remove the free mode.

Specifying Subject for Emails Sent Through Forms

A clear, precise email subject is important in business communication. The right subject explains the contents of the email without opening it, which can save you time.

In earlier CS-Cart versions, customers could not input the subjects of their messages sent to you via forms (such as the Contact Us form). Your customers’ email messages had the name of the form as the subject, which wasn’t very informative.

The built-in Form builder add-on now adds the Subject field to the forms. When customers send you messages through forms (Contact us, for example), they input their emails subject. For example, messages sent via the Contact us form have the exact and clear subject instead of the meaningless subject “Contact us”. You can pre-define subjects or allow your customers to write their own.

Creating Shipment Statuses

We bet every day you or your managers process a lot of orders. If the number of orders large, you can easily become confused about which order you packed, which shipped, and which still needs packing.

To avoid confusion, CS-Cart 4.3.7 now allows you to create shipments statuses in Administration → Shipping & taxes → Shipment statuses. On the Orders → Shipments page, manually set statuses to track each shipment’s state. On the shipment details page you also can change the shipment date and the comment:

Enabling a Shipping Method for All Vendors in Multi-Vendor

In Multi-Vendor, vendors share shipping methods. In earlier versions, you had to assign a shipping method to each vendor manually. Imagine that you have 500 vendors: assigning a new shipping method to each would take too much time.

In Multi-Vendor 4.3.7, you can assign a shipping method to all your vendors with a single click on the shipping method editing page:

Store Import Add-On on the CS-Cart Marketplace

The Store Import add-on allows you to upgrade to a newer CS-Cart version by importing your current store’s data into the new CS-Cart installation. This upgrade method is safe and convenient—you import data to your new store and configure it while keeping the old one up and running.

Since Store Import helps you move to the new version, it requires a special attention: it must be error-free and work smoothly and effectively. That’s why we excluded the Store Import add-on from the release package and moved it to the Marketplace. Now we can devote more time to improving Store Import and will release new versions of the add-on more often.

After the upgrade to CS-Cart 4.3.7, your Store Import add-on will be disabled and you won’t be able to activate it. Download the latest version of the Store Import add-on from the Marketplace. It’s free.

PayPal In-Context Checkout Enabled by Default

PayPal In-Context Checkout is a setting for PayPal Express Checkout to allow customers to pay via PayPal without leaving your store for the PayPal website. With In-Context Checkout enabled, the PayPal pop-up opens right in your store.

Starting from version 4.3.7, PayPal In-Context Checkout is active by default. This feature improves conversion rates thanks to seamless and secure checkout. We recommend you to enable PayPal In-Context Checkout, if you haven’t enabled it before:

  1. Go to Administration → Payment methods
  2. Click the payment method that uses PayPal Express Checkout
  3. Switch to the Configure tab and tick the Use In-Context Checkout checkbox
  4. Click Save
PayPal In-Context Checkout is only enabled by default in the new CS-Cart installation. If In-Context Checkout is disabled in your store, after the upgrade to version 4.3.7 via the Upgrade Center it stays disabled.

How to Get

We will distribute upgrade packages in batches, as always. License owners with active upgrade subscriptions will see upgrades available in their admin panels within a week. If you missed the upgrade availability notification, go to Administration → Upgrade Center and check for the upgrade.

If you are new to CS-Cart, download for CS-Cart or Multi-Vendor 4.3.7 installation package and buy a license.


We would be happy to hear what you think about the new release, so please comment.

If you have any great ideas about how to enhance CS-Cart, please let us know on the CS-Cart Uservoice.

Reporting any discovered bugs to our bug tracker guarantees that we’ll take care of them.

Feel free to ask questions about the changes we’ve made in the new version here in the comments or in the CS-Cart Forums.

Follow CS-Cart on Facebook and Twitter to keep in touch with the latest CS-Cart news.

Subscribe to our newsletters via the form below to receive news and inspirational emails directly to your mailbox.

Follow CS-Cart news & promotions

Build the eCommerce Mall of Your Dreams with Multi-Vendor

By Yan Kulakov, April 11th, 2016 in Articles, Tips and tricks

Hi, how are you?

The eCommerce world has really grown recently, but still has a great outlook for further growth. Amazingly, 80% of the web population has yet to purchase products online.

If you’re thinking about diving into eCommerce, or you’re already in and have a couple of original business ideas, then our Multi-Vendor will help you transform your ideas into a live eCommerce mall.

With Multi-Vendor you can build your own eBay, an eCommerce mall, where different sellers offer their products in a shared marketplace, and you regulate sellers’ activities.

Today, we’d like to share with you three Multi-Vendor marketplaces that use original ideas and look cool. Check out the previous set of marketplaces in another post about Multi-Vendor.

Yumbles

Yumbles is all about hand-crafted yummy food.

The idea of Yumbles is to connect food lovers with independent food and drink producers all over the UK. Guys from Yumbles carefully hand pick the food makers to work with, so you’ll only find the most original and incredible food on the marketplace.

Since the sellers on Yumbles are indie food and drink makers, you order directly from them. Makers only use carefully sourced local ingredients and make their foods fresh to order for you.

A particular feature of Yumbles is the Gifts section, where you can find gifts almost literally for everyone! Choose gifts by recipient, occasion, personality, and price. You can even make a gift yourself with a “Make-it-yourself kit”, or get a gift within one day by ordering one from the Last minute gift category.

Another unique feature of Yumbles is the Community section. This section is full of recipes for everyday cooking, baking, health food, and food for special occasions. You’ll also find articles with cooking tips, fitness articles, and other recommendations.

Wealden Fairs

Wealden Fairs marketplace sells products of Wealden Times Midsummer and Midwinter Fairs, which take place in the village of High Halden in England.

The idea of this marketplace is to allow people to buy products available at these fairs in any season, rather than only when the fairs take place. People can now enjoy “visiting” Wealden Times Midsummer and Midwinter Fairs 365 days a year.

The Wealden Fair marketplace looks cozy and has a great home style. For example, instead of the usual “cart” you see “bag” and when you’re buying products, you add them to this bag. The marketplace is full of little things like this that give it a more distinct look and feel.

Country Culture

Country Culture marketplace offers designer goods from all over Australia. Every seller is an independent and talented designer showcasing his or her hand-made products on Country Culture’s storefront.

According to the marketplace founder, Angela Lavender, the idea of Country Culture is to bring talented designers from Australia together and showcase their talents to the whole world. In this marketplace, many of the pieces are one-off products, making them feel like perfect gifts!

Designers, as the sellers too, wrap and ship their products themselves. But Country Culture supplies them with original gift wrapping so that all the products come to customers beautifully wrapped into the branded Country Culture wrapping.


We hope we’ve inspired you with these Multi-Vendor malls. Tell us what comes to mind about this article in the comments.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep in touch with news. Also, check our forum for beta feature announcements, such as Vendor subscription plans for Multi-Vendor.

To get news and other cool things from us directly to your mailbox, subscribe via the form below.

Follow CS-Cart news & promotions

Presenting a Lightning-Fast and Enduring CS-Cart Demo with 200,000 Products

By Yan Kulakov, March 24th, 2016 in News and announcements

Hi!

The more products and visitors your store has, the higher load it has to withstand. If the number of products and simultaneous visitors exceeds the number a store and its server can handle, the store dramatically slows down and can crash.

Thanks to the latest improvements, such as full-page caching and PHP 7 support, CS-Cart now works as fast as usual and handles a high load even with 200,000 products on board.

To demonstrate the stamina of a properly configured CS-Cart store with full-page caching, we’re presenting a special highload demo and its test results.

Full-Page Caching

CS-Cart now supports a new Full-page cache add-on which allows your store to handle more visitors.

The full-page caching works via Varnish, allowing your store to withstand a higher load and speed up page loading on the first and repeated visits up to 25 times.

This is how it works: when a customer opens a page, CS-Cart stores (i.e. caches) that page into memory. When another customer opens the same page, CS-Cart quickly retrieves it from memory. As a result, the second customer gets that page quickly—even on the first visit.

How to Get the Full-Page Cache Add-On

For now, the beta version of the full-page cache add-on is available on GitHub for free. The add-on only works with CS-Cart 4.3.6.

The add-on requires proper configuration of the server environment. Check out the instructions in the repository and make sure you are skilled enough to configure. If you think the configuration is too complicated, hire a high-level tech specialist for this job. You can also contact us via our Help Desk to get a consultation and advice, of course.

Since this is a beta version, the add-on has 2 restrictions for now:

  • it doesn’t work for Multi-Vendor
  • it only works with one storefront

We plan to enhance the Full-page cache add-on as soon we collect feedback. If you think your store is under a high load and badly needs a performance boost, try the Full-page cache add-on and please share your opinion.

Performance Testing

To show the performance of a properly configured CS-Cart store with full-page caching, we created a highload demo store and tested its stamina.

We took a dedicated server with a quad-core Intel Core i7 processor and 64GB DDR4 RAM for €39/month, installed CS-Cart, and configured it for full-page caching.

Then we imported 200,000 products with 11,000 features, arranged those products into 1,000 categories, and added product filters:

For the testing, we used Yandex.Tank, which checks how many transactions per second a store can handle.

A transaction includes a request to the server that a customer makes when clicking a link or searching for products, and a response from the server which results in an opened page or search results. The more transactions per second a store handles, the better.

In the testing, we made requests to 2,000 products and 100 categories: 5% of requests by authenticated virtual customers, another 5% by virtual customers with products in their carts, and 90% by virtual guests:

Testing Summary


Server Configuration CS-Cart Configuration Highload Performance
Intel Core i7-6700 Quad-Core
Skylake+ Hyper-Threading
64GB DDR4 RAM
MySQL 5.7 + MyISAM tables
PHP 7.0.3 + OpCache + APCu
Redis for sessions
APCu for CS-Cart cache
Products: 197,923
Features: 11,000
Categories: 1,006
Filters: Yes
Total TpS—980, which includes:
870 TpS from virtual guests
60 TpS from virtual customers
with products in their carts
50 TpS from authenticated
virtual customers

Conclusion: a properly configured CS-Cart with full-page caching on the above server configuration handles 980 transactions per second, which means:

We’ve also tested the highload demo without full-page caching and dividing virtual customers into groups, and we got 160 transactions per second.

Keep in mind that on more powerful servers with Intel Xeon processors, the number of transactions per second dramatically increases. To achieve even better results, you can share the load between several servers.


You are welcome to check the highload demo yourself. Please tell us your thoughts about full-page caching on the forum and please report any issues of the demo to our bug tracker.

If you follow us on Facebook and Twitter, you won’t miss any of our latest news and announcements.

To get news and other cool stuff from us directly to your mailbox, subscribe to our newsletters via the form below.

Follow CS-Cart news & promotions

Meet More Beautiful CS-Cart Stores!

By Yan Kulakov, March 21st, 2016 in Articles, Tips and tricks

Hi!

Customers prefer to shop in the stores where they feel comfortable. For example, when you’re shopping for shoes, you expect a shoe shop to have a comfortable place for trying shoes on, a pleasant interior, and a polite in-store consultant.

The same works for online customers—they prefer beautiful and convenient online stores to shop in. As a result, stores with attractive graphics and well-thought navigation bring more money to their owners.

We’re happy to present a set of 3 eye-catching CS-Cart stores to inspire you with more design ideas.

If you missed the previous set, check it out in this blog post.

Burford Garden Company

Burford is a family business with quite a history. The store sells products for the garden and home: plants, garden tools, furniture, cushions, home furniture, kitchenware, lighting, and much more.

The store owners say their products are different from the mainstream, and they present them differently. And it‘s true! These products are presented on the storefront with thorough descriptions and lovely product pictures. The storefront in general feels friendly and a great “home” style.

A particular feature of the Burford store is a section offering one-off products, interestingly called Le Souk.

The base of the Burford store is in the UK, so customers only pay in British Pounds. Burford uses CS-Cart 4.3.4 with a custom-made storefront design:

Rossano Ferretti Parma

Rossano Ferretti Parma offers its own branded hair-care products. Here in the store, you’ll find a wide range of shampoo, conditioners, masks, sprays, oils, and other hair-care products.

Rossano Ferretti is known for his special style of cutting hair, where the stylist cuts along the natural fall of the hair. Rossano Ferretti has already founded over 20 brick-and-mortar salons all over the world, as well as an online store based on CS-Cart.

Rossano Ferretti Parma works on CS-Cart 4.3.3 and has a neat black-and-white custom design. Customers pay in US Dollars or British Pounds and can select one of the four languages: English, French, Italian, or Spanish.

Wrendale Designs

Wrendale Designs sells products with unique designer prints illustrating animals. In their catalog, you can find greeting cards, gift bags, calendars, stationery, ceramics, and much more.

Wrendale Designs began as founder Hannah Dale’s hobby. She was inspired by the nature of Lincolnshire where she lives. Hannah started painting hares, and her illustrations were an immediate success among local people. Then she began painting other animals. Now Wrendale Designs is a family affair.

A particular feature of this store is that it has two storefronts on different domains. Catalogues on these two storefronts differ. On the UK storefront, customers pay in British Pounds, while on the US storefront, it’s US Dollars.

Wrendale Designs uses CS-Cart 4.1.5 and is packed with a custom storefront theme based on the default Responsive theme:


Hope you like this set! Stay tuned for the next one in April.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get the latest news and announcements.

To learn how to develop design for CS-Cart, check the Designer Guide.

Subscribe to our newsletters to receive news and new sets of designs directly to your mailbox.

Follow CS-Cart news & promotions