Five 1-year CS-Cart Licenses Giveaway

By Yan Kulakov, February 19th, 2015 in News and announcements

Hi!

We’ve already started CS-Cart 4.3.1 Beta testing.

Your feedback is valuable to us. That’s why we announce a special contest to motivate beta testers.

We’re giving away five 1-year CS-Cart licenses!

Free CS-Cart Licenses

The Reward

Each bug report brings you closer to the prize.

At the end of the beta testing, we will pick five most active and contributing testers and reward each of them with a 1-year CS-Cart license.

How to Win

To win a license, test CS-Cart 4.3.1 Beta and report bugs.

The more reports you submit, the higher your chance to win a 1-year CS-Cart license. The more severe the found bugs, the more valuable they are, the higher your chance to get the prize. We’ll ignore duplicate bug reports. The tester who posts a bug first, scores.

In order to take part in the giveaway, register an account in our bug tracker. Bug reports only from registered testers will have the value in our contest. This will guarantee fair play and help identify the winners.

Important: Please use only the official bug tracker to report bugs.

Ready Steady

GO

It’s not necessary to install CS-Cart 4.3.1 Beta to participate in the beta test. You are free to use the online demo of CS-Cart 4.3.1 Beta for testing.

Why Test CS-Cart 4.3.1 Beta

  1. It’s fast. On the same hardware, CS-Cart 4.3.1 Beta works faster than CS-Cart 4.2.4. We optimized SQL queries and cache engine to achieve speed boost.
  2. It’s fast as hell. In CS-Cart 4.3.1, the storefront loads fast due to JavaScript optimization and lazy image loading.
  3. Storefront test

  4. See how fast your store can be. If you feel like testing your live store with CS-Cart 4.3.1 Beta use the store import feature—no license obligations needed.

We highly appreciate your feedback. It helps make CS-Cart even better.

You are welcome to ask any questions about this contest in the comment section.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Good luck!

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Cross-Selling in CS-Cart: the Bestsellers & On-Sale Products Add-on

By Yan Kulakov, February 16th, 2015 in Articles, Tips and tricks

Hello!

This post is the last one in the series of articles about cross-selling tools in CS-Cart. Check out the previous posts about the Buy Together add-on and the Customers Also Bought add-on.

Talking about cross-selling in CS-Cart, we must mention the Bestsellers & On-Sale Products add-on.

Bestsellers & On-Sale Products

Using this add-on, you can create these product lists on your storefront:

  • Bestsellers—products that customers buy most often in your store
  • Newest products—products that you have recently added to your catalog
  • Most popular products—products that customers view most often
  • Recently viewed products—products that the customer viewed last
  • On-sale products—discounted products
  • Similar products—products similar to the current one
  • The Similar products list is a feature first introduced in CS-Cart 4.3.1 Beta. Your store visitors see this list on the product details pages. For example, on the details page of this backpack a visitor sees a list of similar backpacks:

Similar backpacks

We prepared detailed instructions on setting up a similar products list.

When you create a similar products list, you can define a price range to show only similar products within that range. To do this, enter a value in the Price range field. You can also make a list of similar products in the same category, including or excluding subcategories. To exclude out-of-stock products from the list, select the Only “in stock” products box:

Similar settings

Extra Store Pages

Another new feature of the Bestsellers & On-Sale Products add-on in CS-Cart 4.3.1 Beta is additional store pages. You can add four extra pages to your storefront:

  • all on-sale products
  • all final sale products
  • all newest products
  • all bestsellers

Extra pages

A customer can go to these pages in different ways. For example, you can create a graphic banner or a menu item with a link to the page showing all final sale products. When a customer clicks the banner or the menu item, the page opens.

Check our Knowledge Base for instructions on adding the above pages.

Add-on Settings

In CS-Cart 4.3.1 Beta, the Bestsellers & On-Sale Products add-on becomes customizable.

To open the add-on settings page, click the add-on name on the Add-ons → Manage Add-ons page.

The General tab contains two settings:

  • Minimum final sale discount (%) indicates the starting discount for final sale products.
  • Minimum sales amount to define bestsellers indicates the amount of sales needed to consider a product as a bestseller. For example:
  • General tab

    The Newest tab offers two settings for a newest products list:

  • Use the Period drop-down menu to choose a period of time when you added new products to your catalog. For example, choose Today to show, in the newest products list, the products you added today.
  • If you choose Last days in the Period drop-down menu, use the Last days field to set the number of days within which you added products. For example:

Newest tab


We’d like to know what cross-selling techniques you use. Do cross-selling tools in CS-Cart help you sell more? What do you think about the new features in the Bestsellers & On-Sale Products add-on? Please share your thoughts and experiences.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay informed.

Bye!

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Speed Boost in CS-Cart 4.3.1 Beta

By Yan Kulakov, February 11th, 2015 in CS-Cart releases

CS-Cart 4.3.1 Beta

Hi everybody,

Today, we’re proud to present CS-Cart 4.3.1 Beta.

Join beta testing now

Our team has been working hard to make CS-Cart faster and more feature-rich. We have fixed many bugs and added new cool features, but the main perk of CS-Cart 4.3.1 is speed.

Server Side Optimizations

On the same hardware, CS-Cart 4.3.1 Beta works faster than CS-Cart 4.2.4. We optimized SQL queries to achieve speed boost. Take a look:

Performance test

During the tests, we used a relatively slow machine with 50,000 products. We do not recommend using this configuration for a live store of this size.

Every time a customer opens a page in your store or uses the search or filtering features, a database query is executed. A query tells the store what information the customer wants to see. For example, “women apparel under $100” is represented by a certain query. The more items to load and the more complicated the conditions, the heavier the query. In a store with 50,000 products, a heavy query takes minutes to run, depending on the server.

In CS-Cart 4.3.1, we focused on the heaviest queries: product sorting and filtering. By breaking these queries into smaller chunks, we achieved massive speed boost; the same data that would take over a minute to load in CS-Cart 4.2.4, loads in 5.5 seconds in CS-Cart 4.3.1 Beta.

Caching Optimization

Product search means executing heavy SQL queries. Repeat the same search twice, and you have two identical heavy SQL queries to execute. Though we’ve made heavy SQL queries much faster in CS-Cart 4.3.1 Beta, it would still be nice to eliminate the need to run duplicate queries.

This is why we’ve introduced product ID caching. During a search, CS-Cart 4.3.1 stores, (caches) the IDs of the found products. If the same search is called, CS-Cart 4.3.1 takes the results from the cache and does not run the heavy SQL query again.

Caching is useful not only for search optimization. CS-Cart 4.3.1 caches most blocks on the storefront. This makes for faster page loading on the second visit.

Storefront Optimizations

Here are the improvements we’ve made on the storefront:

  • Lazy image loading. That is, an image is loaded only when it’s visible. For example, images in sliders are loaded only when a customer clicks the arrow:

Performance test

Lazy loading reduces bandwidth usage on the homepage by 30 percent. This feature also reduces the number of HTTP requests to the server.

  • JavaScript code at the bottom of a page. In CS-Cart 4.2.4 and older, a page was invisible to a visitor until all its JavaScript code was loaded. In CS-Cart 4.3.1 Beta, non-crucial JavaScript code is loaded last. As a result, during page loading, a visitor sees the content sooner.

Take a look at the results from Google PageSpeed and WebPagetest:

Storefront test

The First Byte cell indicates time before the page starts loading.

The Start Render cell indicates time before the page content starts rendering.


You are welcome to download CS-Cart 4.3.1 Beta and test drive it. We created a special bug tracker for CS-Cart 4.3.1 Beta, so please report the issues you find. We plan to fix them quickly and roll out upgrades (Beta 2, Beta 3, etc.) once or twice a week. You will be able to upgrade from CS-Cart 4.3.1 Beta to Beta 2, Beta 3, etc. using Upgrade Center.

We will activate Store Import within a week after the first beta release. Anyone who feels like testing CS-Cart 4.3.1 Beta with his or her live store will be able to use the store import feature.

Important:

  • CS-Cart 4.3.1 Beta is not production-ready software, so do not use it for selling products.
  • A direct upgrade from CS-Cart 4.3.1 Beta to CS-Cart 4.3.1 Final will not be available.
  • You will be able to upgrade from CS-Cart 4.2.4 to CS-Cart 4.3.1 Final via Upgrade Center.

You are very welcome to join beta testing. We are eagerly waiting for your thoughts about the new release. Please post your comments here in our blog.

Don’t forget to report bugs—we greatly appreciate it.

Stay tuned to our blog for articles about the new features of CS-Cart 4.3.1.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay in touch with the latest CS-Cart and Multi-Vendor news.

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Cross-Selling Tools in CS-Cart: ‘Customers Also Bought’ Suggestions

By Yan Kulakov, February 9th, 2015 in Articles, Tips and tricks

Hi!

One of the ways to boost your online sales is to use cross-selling techniques. Today, we’ll tell you about one of the CS-Cart cross-selling tools—the Customers Also Bought add-on.

Customers Also Bough Add-on

Use the Customers Also Bought add-on to show what products people usually buy with a particular item.

The “customers also bought” suggestions brought 35 percent of the annual profit to Amazon in 2006. Even though the results are not so dramatic today, Amazon, Ebay, and Best Buy have been successfully using product suggestions for years. This feature has become a must-have for a proper online store.

In CS-Cart, customers see product suggestions right on the product’s details pages. If products are purchased together with the given one often enough, they end up in its “customers also bought” block.

Customers Also Bough Block

For example, the PlayStation 4 standard accessory set includes only one controller and a mono headset. To get the best experience from PS4, customers often buy the console, an additional controller, and a PlayStation 4 camera. CS-Cart remembers their choices and offers them to future customers:

Customers Also Bough

Read the detailed instructions on setting up the Customers Also Bought add-on in our Knowledge Base.


Feel free to share your experience of using cross-selling add-ons in your stores. We are always happy to know what you think about our products!

One more post about cross-selling in CS-Cart is coming, so stay tuned and don’t miss it. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to stay informed.

Bye!

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Cross-Selling Tools in CS-Cart: the Buy Together Add-on

By Yan Kulakov, January 26th, 2015 in Articles, Tips and tricks

Hi!

Cross-selling means suggesting related products to customers. Merchants use cross-selling techniques to sell additional useful products to their customers.

CS-Cart offers four built-in cross-selling tools. In this article, we’re going to tell you about one of them—the Buy Together add-on.

Buy Together Add-on

The Buy Together add-on allows you to group related products into a bundle and offer a discount for the bundle. For example:

Buy Together Example

The screenshot shows the add-on in action. A customer is looking for a new hiking backpack. Perhaps he or she is going on an overnight hike. Offer a new sleeping bag as well, and give a discount for the bundle. As a result, the customer gets a new set of camping gear at a lower price, and you increase your online sales.

For instructions on setting up the Buy Together add-on, refer to our Knowledge Base.


We would like to know what you think about cross-selling in CS-Cart. Does the Buy Together add-on help boost your online sales? Please share your ideas and experience!

In the next post, we’ll talk about another cross-selling tool—the Required Products Customers Also Bought add-on. Stay tuned and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Have a good day!

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