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

CS-Cart and Multi-Vendor 4.3.6 Are Here!

By Yan Kulakov, March 2nd, 2016 in CS-Cart releases, Tips and tricks

Version 4.3.6 got a performance boost and new Multi-Vendor features, including the anticipated vendor subscription plans

Hello!

We’re proudly bringing to you the new version of our shopping platform—CS-Cart and Multi-Vendor 4.3.6.

Although this is a minor release that fixes bugs, it also brings new features and PHP 7 support, which speeds up your store and makes it more enduring:

  • PHP 7 support—CS-Cart 4.3.6 works with PHP 7, which speeds up page loading and allows CS-Cart to withstand a higher load.
  • Store import is back—upgrade from version 2.2.4 and higher to the latest version by importing all of your store data to CS-Cart 4.3.6 installation while keeping your current store up and running.
  • Сhanges to enhance usability of your store—links for quick accessing a carrier’s parcel-tracking page from the admin panel, correct displaying of the delivery period for UPS, the Subcategories tree filling for the categories block, and the Description field for shipping methods.
  • Vendor plans add-on (beta)—create subscription plans for vendors with restrictions, such as maximum number of vendor products, maximum revenue per month, and more.
  • Vendor’s terms and conditions add-on—allow your vendors to add their terms and conditions that customers must accept at checkout.
  • No empty categories in a vendor microstore—if a vendor doesn’t use one of the available categories, this empty category is not displayed in his or her microstore.
  • A vendor can get the Pending status more than once—a marketplace admin can change a vendor’s status from Active to Pending at the vendor’s request.

See other changes in the changelog.

Performance Boost

Speed and stamina are important for a website. Make a visitor wait too long for the page to load—he leaves. Make a visitor see your store crashes—he never returns. Good performance is especially critical for an online store because when a visitor leaves your store, you lose a potential customer and money.

CS-Сart 4.3.6 speeds up your store and enables it to withstand a higher load on PHP 7—it’s confirmed as the fastest version of PHP, it even beats HHVM.

We’ve taken the cheapest 5-dollar VPS hosting on DigitalOcean and compared the performance of CS-Cart 4.3.6 on PHP 7 and PHP 5.6 to one of the most popular CMS—WordPress.

WordPress is known for its simplicity and light functionality. CS-Cart, which has a richer set of ecommerce features, shows superiority in performance tests:

  • If the number of HTTP requests exceeds the number a store can handle per second, it slows down and crashes. CS-Cart 4.3.6 on PHP 7 handles 2 times more HTTP-requests per second than WordPress:
  • The faster a page starts loading, the sooner a customer sees the page. Pages in CS-Cart 4.3.6 start loading sooner than in WordPress:

Store Import

It’s important to keep your store software up to date to ensure security, speed, and feature richness. But moving to the new CS-Cart version could be a painful procedure sometimes—upgrading can cause issues on some servers or if your store is deeply modified.

Now, here comes Store Import. Simply transfer all of your store’s data to the new CS-Cart installation, keeping your current store online. First, if something is not working after the import, you still have your old store up and running. Second, you continue selling in your old store while configuring the new one after the successful import.

You can import your store data from CS-Cart 2.2.4 and higher, both Professional and Ultimate.

Multi-Vendor doesn’t have Store Import yet. If you really need it for your marketplace, let us know in the Help Desk, here in the comments, or in the forum.

Changes to Enhance Usability

To make CS-Cart clearer and easier to use, we’ve added links to tracking numbers so you can quickly access a carrier’s parcel-tracking page from the admin panel, made the UPS delivery period look clearer, and included the new Subcategories tree display style of categories:

  • Links for quick accessing a carrier’s parcel-tracking page from an order details page—click a tracking number on an order details page to open the carrier’s tracking page and check the delivery status of the order. This feature saves you time because you don’t have to copy the tracking number and insert it manually onto the carrier’s tracking page.
  • Clear delivery period for UPS—when UPS returns the delivery period in days to your store, a customer sees a clear delivery period in days: ‘3 days’ for example. In earlier versions, a customer saw only ‘3’ without the ‘days’, which was confusing.

  • Subcategory filling for the categories block—on a category page, customers only see subcategories of that category, not the full category tree.
  • The Description field for shipping methods—on a shipping editing page, you can enter descriptions for shipping methods, that customers will see at checkout:

Vendor Subscription Plans (Multi-Vendor)

Multi-Vendor 4.3.6 supports an anticipated feature—Vendor plans that allows a marketplace admin to create subscription plans for the vendors.

We haven’t yet included the Vendor plans add-on in the Multi-Vendor 4.3.6 installation package because we’re going to be testing the add-on and putting the finishing touches according to your suggestions.

Keep an eye on our forum so as not to miss the post about Vendor plans containing installation and configuration instructions.

The Vendor plans add-on is a flexible tool that helps you increase your revenue if used wisely:

  • Create as many plans as you want, edit, and delete them all on the Vendor → Vendor plans page.
  • Set the plan’s price, the period for which a vendor pays for the plan, and the transaction fee that you will charge for each order.
  • Define the maximum number of products a vendor can have, set the maximum revenue per month a vendor can get, and allow or disallow a vendor to have a microstore with filters, categories, and search.
  • Allow your vendors to access only particular categories and assign plans to existing vendors.
  • Vendors monitor the usage of the plans on their dashboards and change plans themselves.

Vendor’s Terms and Conditions (Multi-Vendor)

The Vendor’s terms and conditions add-on in Multi-Vendor 4.3.6 allows vendors to specify their terms and conditions so that the customers accept them at checkout.

Terms and conditions act as a legal contract between a vendor and a customer. It’s important for a vendor to have his/her own terms and conditions—this will demarcate liability between the marketplace owner and the vendor, and help to handle conflicts between a customer and a vendor.

A vendor specifies the terms and conditions on the vendor editing page in Vendor → Vendors:

At checkout, customers must accept the terms and conditions of each vendor, whose products they are buying:

No Empty Categories in Vendor’s Microstore (Multi-Vendor)

On a Multi-Vendor marketplace, vendors can have their own microstores with filters, search by vendor’s products, and categories.

Marketplace admins often allow vendors to use all the categories available in their marketplaces, but vendors usually do not use all of them. In the previous Multi-Vendor versions, unused categories were displayed in a vendor’s microstore, and customers could view those empty categories. As a result, customers could get confused.

In Multi-Vendor 4.3.6, empty categories vendors don’t use are not displayed in a vendor’s microstore.

Pending Status for Vendor More Than Once (Multi-Vendor)

A marketplace admin must approve new vendors before they can sell. If an admin is unsure whether to approve a vendor or not, he sets the vendor’s status to Pending. In the Pending status, a vendor can access his admin panel, change the company information, and add products.

In earlier Multi-Vendor versions, an admin could set the Pending status only once—right after the vendor completed registration.

If an active vendor is reorganizing his business, or moving all his supplies to a new warehouse, he needs to suspend selling. The Pending status is the best option for that—the vendor still can manage the microstore, but customers don’t see this vendor’s products in the marketplace.

In Multi-Vendor 4.3.6, an active vendor can ask the marketplace admin to change his status to Pending at any time.

Get It

Before upgrading to CS-Cart 4.3.6, make sure that your server has PHP 5.3.6 or newer—older PHP versions are no longer supported.

You have 2 options to upgrade to CS-Cart 4.3.6:

  • Via the Upgrade center on the Administration → Upgrade center page of your admin panel. License owners with active upgrade subscriptions will see the available upgrade in their Upgrade centers within a week.
  • Via Store Import on the Add-ons → Store Import page (make sure you have the Store Import add-on installed). All you need is to download the CS-Cart 4.3.6 installation package and install it on your server. Then import your current store’s data to the new CS-Cart installation.

If you’ve never used CS-Cart before, download the installation package and buy a license.


We hope that you like the new version. We greatly appreciate your ideas on how to make CS-Cart even better. Share your thoughts on our Uservoice.

Please report bugs to our bug tracker.

If you have any questions about the new features or the upgrade, feel free to ask them 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 storefront design ideas directly to your mailbox.

Follow CS-Cart news & promotions

January Pack of 3 Design Ideas for Your Storefront

By Yan Kulakov, February 15th, 2016 in Articles, Tips and tricks

Hello!

We’d like to share another three CS-Cart store design ideas from our archive. Look for previous examples of designs in these posts.

Printism

As the owners say, Printism is a philosophy not just a website.

This store offers prints of illustrations and paintings of different styles such as surrealistic, symbolic, indoor art, landscapes, vintage posters, and others.

When ordering a print, the customer selects the type of the print, such as paper print, framed print, canvas, or stretched print, the size of the print, and the frame style. Frames are applied to the print preview in real time, so a customer sees the final appearance of the framed print.

Printism uses CS-Cart 4.3.3 with a custom design that converts this online store into a real art gallery:

Miyake

Miyake-Japan is an online store of the Miyake Ceramics Co., Ltd—a company that has been offering ceramic ware for over 60 years now.

Now in the Miyake store, you can purchase not only ceramic ware but also woodenware, glassware, and kitchen tools for Japanese restaurants.

Because the store represents the international department of Miyake Ceramics, the storefront uses the English language and 3 currencies: the Japanese yen, the US dollar, and the Euro.

Miyake-Japan works on CS-Cart 4.3.3 and uses a custom storefront template with a large banner on the homepage:

Overboard

Overboard (OVBRD) is a skateboarding and streetwear store from Finland.

Overboard describes itself as an online store of the latest skateboarding products with superfast delivery. This store really keeps up with the fashion: in the catalog you can see cruiser skateboards that are currently hip, as well as Star Wars clothing.

The storefront is presented in English and Suomi, and customers pay for orders in Euros.

Overboard has CS-Сart 3.0.4 Professional under the bonnet. The desktop version of the store uses a dark custom design and the mobile version works on Twigmo, which is one of our products besides CS-Cart.


Hope you enjoyed these storefronts. Feel free to ask questions about CS-Cart design in the CS-Cart forum.

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

Subscribe to our newsletters via the form below to receive CS-Cart design ideas directly to your mailbox.

Follow CS-Cart news & promotions