CS-Cart and Multi-Vendor 4.3.1 Released

By Yan Kulakov, April 29th, 2015 in CS-Cart releases, News and announcements

Hello,

We’re happy to present to you the final CS-Cart and Multi-Vendor 4.3.1 release.

CS-Cart 4.3.1 is faster and more feature-rich than any other CS-Cart version.

Speed Boost

CS-Cart 4.3.1 is fast:

  • SQL query optimization speeds up product search and filtering.
  • Optimized caching makes the search faster, if you call the same search twice. Storefront pages also load faster on the second visit because CS-Cart 4.3.1 caches the content during the first visit.
  • CS-Cart 4.3.1 supports Alternative PHP Cache. This technology speeds up PHP scripts on your server. Even well-optimized websites load with a delay because it takes time to execute PHP scripts. APC cache shortens this delay.
  • JavaScript code was moved to the bottom of pages so that the code doesn’t slow down page loading. Store pages now load faster on the first visit.

Functionality Improvements

Thanks to the community feedback during the beta testing, we’ve fixed nearly 150 bugs. Check out the changelog for all improvements and fixes.

Multi-Vendor: Fully Featured Vendor Storefronts

In Multi-Vendor 4.3.1, vendors make their own fully functional storefronts with categories, filters, search by vendor products, and more. Vendor pages in previous Multi-Vendor versions lacked most of these functions.

A vendor page in Multi-Vendor 4.3.1 looks like a vendor page on eBay or Amazon:

Vendor Page

New Blog Add-on

The Blog add-on lets you create a fully functional blog inside your store. Keep your customers informed by posting news and special offers in your blog.

Blog Add-on

Upgrade Center Refinements

The Upgrade center in CS-Cart 4.3.1 has become more user-friendly. The Upgrade center will guide you through the upgrade process, showing the process in detail.

We improved backup and restore. If something goes wrong during the upgrade, you’ll be able to roll back safely.

Export and Import Enhancements

In CS-Cart 4.3.1 we’ve introduced a long-awaited feature—export and import of option variants, option combinations, and option exceptions. This feature simplifies catalog updating and stock accounting.

For example, you sell a T-shirt model that comes in different colors and sizes. You need to track the exact number of blue T-shirts of size M at your warehouse. These T-shirts have a combination of two options: blue color and M size.

Export product data with option variants and option combinations from your store. Then, import this data to the stock accounting software. You can now track the actual number of blue, medium-size T-shirts at the warehouse.

Bestsellers & On-Sale Products Add-on Expanded

New functionality allows you to show similar products on a product details page. We’ve also added an ability to create pages with all bestsellers, on-sale, new, and final sale products.

Bestsellers Add-on

Other Enhancements

CS-Cart 4.3.1 has a bunch of smaller enhancements, including:

  • Faster checkout
  • Easier navigation
  • Custom layout
  • Your own logo and favicon for each style
  • Displaying products immediately after choosing a filter
  • Ability to define a user group for a user via API
  • Improved protection from CSRF attacks
  • API 2.0 by default

How to Get 4.3.1

Download the CS-Cart or Multi-Vendor installation package.

Purchase a commercial license to get all features and support. Before purchasing a license, you can try CS-Cart or Multi-Vendor for free for 30 days. You can use CS-Cart for free even after the trial, but you’ll only have access to a limited set of features.

If you already have a license and an active upgrade subscription, download your personal installation package from the File Area in your Help Desk account.

Upgrade

Important: The upgrade will be available from the next week. We will be limiting the number of upgrade package downloads within the first few days to avoid server overload.

License owners with active upgrade subscriptions have two options for upgrading from 4.0.1 and higher to 4.3.1:

  • Upgrade center. Go to your admin panel, Administration → Upgrade center, and click Download.
  • Store Import. To upgrade from CS-Cart 3.0.6 and earlier (except the Community edition) to the current version install CS-Cart 4.3.1 and import your store.

Please ask any questions regarding CS-Cart and Multi-Vendor 4.3.1 in the comment section. How do you like the new features? We greatly appreciate your feedback!

If you find a bug, report it to the bug tracker.

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Why Upgrading is Convenient in CS-Cart 4.3.1

By Yan Kulakov, April 27th, 2015 in News and announcements

CS-Cart Store admins upgrade their stores on the Administration → Upgrade center page. The Upgrade center receives data and upgrades the store automatically.

The Upgrade center in CS-Cart 4.3.1 inherited features from the one in earlier versions, including: auto-setting permissions, viewing contents of the upgrade package, etc.

We’ve also introduced new features that make the upgrade safer and faster.

The new Upgrade center features are first introduced in CS-Cart and Multi-Vendor 4.3.1. All future upgrades will benefit from these features.

Upgrading from 4.0.1+ to 4.3.1 itself will use older versions of the Upgrade center that don’t have these features.

Backup/Restore Improved

The Upgrade center backs up files and the database automatically during the upgrade. Images aren’t backed up.

You can back up files and the database manually on the Administration →Backup/Restore page. Manual backup allows you to back up images, attachments, and downloadable files:

If your store doesn’t work properly after the upgrade, restore the backup on the Administration → Backup/Restore page:

You also have an emergency restore option. This is useful if you cannot access your admin panel. During the upgrade, a restore.php file is created. A link to this file is sent to your admin email. Click this link to restore the backup.

Easy Database Actualization

During the upgrade, CS-Cart data and the database structure change. The database structure must be actualized so that the database works with a new CS-Cart version. To actualize the database structure, the Upgrade center uses migrations:

A migration is an instruction for the Upgrade center on renaming, creating, or removing database tables. Actualizing the database structure via migrations is safer and faster than removing and recreating the database from scratch.

Add-ons Upgrade

By default, the Upgrade center upgrades only CS-Cart including built-in add-ons. It doesn’t upgrade third-party add-ons, which is inconvenient.

Since CS-Cart flexibility is one of our priorities, now you can expand the functionality of the Upgrade center to upgrade third-party add-ons as well. To do this, develop a special add-on for the Upgrade center. If you are not familiar with CS-Cart add-ons development, hire a developer for this task.

Languages Installation

CS-Cart is a multi-language platform. Language variables are used to translate CS-Cart into different languages. Language variables stand for menu names, add-on names, settings names, etc.

If the upgrade adds new settings to the admin panel, the Upgrade center installs only those language variables that stand for these new settings names. It doesn’t reinstall existing variables as it did before, which makes the upgrade faster.


Do you find the Upgrade center in CS-Cart 4.3.1 convenient? Would you feel comfortable upgrading your store from 4.3.1 to newer versions? Share your thoughts in the comments section. We’d appreciate your feedback!

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Faster Checkout in CS-Cart 4.3.1

By Yan Kulakov, April 6th, 2015 in Articles, News and announcements, Tips and tricks

With CS-Cart 4.3.1 customers spend less time on checkout

Fast checkout

Hello!

After adding a product to the cart the customer proceeds to checkout to pay for the order. During checkout, the customer completes four steps:

  1. Signs in to an existing account or registers a new one
  2. Enters the billing and shipping addresses
  3. Chooses the shipping method
  4. Chooses the payment methods

Checkout steps

CS-Cart 4.2.4 and earlier have two checkout styles. The store admin switches between them on the Settings → General page in the admin panel:

  • Multi-page checkout—when a customer proceeds to the next checkout step, the web browser reloads the whole page. Reloading a page takes almost as much time as initially loading it.

Multi-page checkout

  • One-page checkout—moving through steps doesn’t reload the whole page but only updates a part of it. Since there’s less to load, switching between steps is faster.

One-page checkout works on the AJAX technology. AJAX allows data exchange between browser and server without the full reloading of the web page.

One-page checkout

In CS-Cart 4.3.1 we have removed the multi-page checkout style. From now on, CS-Cart uses one-page checkout by default.

Checkout Settings

The checkout settings have been relocated from Setting → General to Settings → Checkout. You will find a description of each checkout setting on the Reference Guide → CS-Cart → Settings → Checkout page.

Three of these settings let you hide checkout steps:

  • If the sign-in step doesn’t require contact information, you may want to hide this step. Choose Hide step completely in the Configure “Sign in” step setting. When the first step is hidden, unlogged customers place orders anonymously. Logged in customers don’t see this step as well. If a logged in customer has indicated the billing and the shipping addresses in his or her profile, the second step is completed automatically.
  • It may be that there is only one shipping method accessible for your region. Place this method first in the Administration → Shipping & taxes → Shipping methods list. Now, go to Settings → Checkout and hide the Shipping options step to use the method you’ve just listed first by default.
  • If you offer only one payment method, e.g. credit card, make sure this method is the first in the Administration → Payment methods list. On the Setting → Checkout page, hide the Billing options step. Now, payment by credit card is used by default.

If you want your customers to choose shipping and payment methods themselves, leave the checkboxes ticked:

Checkout settings

By hiding all three steps, you let unlogged customers complete only one checkout step instead of four. Registered customers who indicated addresses in their profiles, place orders in one click. Handy!


What checkout style have you been using in your store? What do you think about the refined checkout in CS-Cart 4.3.1? We would appreciate any comments!

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New Look of the Vendor Page

By Yan Kulakov, March 30th, 2015 in News and announcements

Hello!

Multi-Vendor allows you to create an online marketplace where multiple vendors sell their products on a shared storefront, and the root administrator regulates vendors’ activities.

In Multi-Vendor 4.3.1, we’ve introduced a long-awaited feature—the ability to make a fully featured vendor storefront. In Multi-Vendor 4.3.1, the vendor page looks similar to a vendor page on eBay or Amazon.

Your Own Ebay with MVE

The New Look

In the previous Multi-Vendor version (4.2.4), customers could buy vendor products from the vendor page. But there was no way to search by vendor products, no product filters, and no single list of all vendor products. It took time to find the needed product on a vendor page. That’s why customers tended to buy vendor products through a common storefront which had those filters and search capabilities.

In Multi-Vendor 4.3.1, vendors create fully featured stores in a common marketplace. Customers see a list of all vendor products, product filters, and a “search by vendor products” field on the vendor page. Customers can still buy vendor products through a common storefront, but now they easily find and buy vendor products from the vendor page as well. A vendor page in Multi-Vendor 4.3.1 looks like a vendor page on eBay:

MVE vs. eBay

Vendor Locations

Root administrators fill locations (Design > Layouts) with blocks. Blocks carry the content that customers see on storefront pages. To display content on a vendor page, root admins fill in a special vendor location.

Watch the layouts video tutorial to learn more about locations and blocks in CS-Cart.

In Multi-Vendor 4.2.4, there was only one vendor location—Vendor account. We kept Vendor account in Multi-Vendor 4.3.1 and added a new vendor location—Vendor store:

Vendor Locations

    The Vendor store location is pre-filled with these blocks:

  • Vendor search—a search field to search vendor products directly on the vendor page.
  • Vendor information—vendors use this block to add their companies’ descriptions to the vendor pages.
  • Breadcrumbs—navigation links. This block helps visitors keep track of their location on the storefront.
  • Vendor categories—this block allows the root admin to add a categories menu that shows products of the current vendor.
  • Vendor filters—customers use these filters to quickly find products of the current vendor.
  • Main content—a list of all vendor products on the vendor page. Customers can click any product to open the product details page directly from the vendor page.

Vendor Page Elements


Please leave any questions regarding this new Multi-Vendor feature in the comments section. We’ll be happy to answer! We also appreciate your feedback.

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Pills Instead of Tabs in the Admin Panel

By Yan Kulakov, March 23rd, 2015 in Articles, News and announcements, Tips and tricks

In CS-Cart 4.3.1, there are no hidden tabs in the admin panel

Hi!

Today we’ll tell you about the simplified tab design in the admin panel, and why it is convenient.

Redesigned tabs

In CS-Cart 4.2.4 and earlier, tabs are arranged in a single line. And if tabs didn’t fit the line, some of them were ‘hidden’ in the More menu. Which is not so handy, since it means you don’t see all the tabs. You have to click the More menu to see them.

There’s also unused space between the visible tabs and the More menu—empty space that could be filled with additional tabs.

In CS-Cart 4.3.1, instead of tabs you’ll find pills. Simply, pills occupy the whole space of the tab bar. For example, on a product edit page you will see all the pills arranged in line:

4.2.4 vs. 4.3.1

If pills don’t fit a single line, they simply move to the next line. The More menu is thus removed.

Arranged in two lines

Check out pills in CS-Cart 4.3.1 Beta. The beta testing is free, just download and install the beta version. And to sweeten the cart, by the end of the beta test we will reward the most active testers!


Please do share your thoughts and ideas on this new design. Do you find pills more convenient than tabs? We appreciate your feedback!

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