Archive for the ‘Inside CS-Cart’ Category

SEO features of CS-Cart

By Michael Gunin, Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009 in Inside CS-Cart

Search engines remain the key traffic source for most websites, and online stores also get a lion share of visitors from them. It is especially important for webstores to optimize both home and internal pages for problem-free indexing since the competition in ecommerce is quite high and it is necessary to focus on people searching for individual products, manufacturers, categories and the store niche in general.

CS-Cart provides all the necessary tools for successful search engine optimization. All key parameters (like title and meta tags, alternative text for images etc) can be defined for each individual page (including products, categories and CMS pages). CS-Cart also provides auto-generated SEO-friendly URL addresses for all page types,
meaning they can be easily accessed by search spiders and contain relevant keywords.

Key SEO parameters of a page

Key SEO parameters of a page

The code of design skins is also search engine friendly, it is very clean and compact being based on CSS and compliant with all modern standards. Besides, for even easier indexing, CS-Cart provides the ability to generate a site map and HTML catalog of static product and category pages (in order to achieve the maximum performance).

With CS-Cart, you get an ecommerce solution focused on maximum SEO flexibility. However, please do not forget about the off-site factors since getting external links and promoting your store on other resource is no less important.

Banner advertisement in CS-Cart

By Michael Gunin, Friday, September 18th, 2009 in Inside CS-Cart

Both graphic and text banners are commonly used in online marketing for various purposes: promotion of key website areas, highlighting of special offers, paid or affiliate links to external resources etc.

CS-Cart has a built-in banner management system allowing to work with both banner types and display them randomly within the storefront interface. For each banner, you may define URLs they lead to, so it’s possible to link them to any location, be it some sections of your online store, third-party websites or products from your partners.

Banner addition form

Banner addition form

Store administrators are also provided with comprehensive statistics. For each banner, it is possible to see the number of impressions and clicks along with the conversion rate for a defined period of time, including details from hourly to monthly levels.

While not being too complex, CS-Cart’s banner management allows to perform all basic operations for banner rotation with ease. More advanced banner management system is used in affiliate module, about which we will tell you as well.

CS-Cart as a tool for selling digital goods

By Michael Gunin, Wednesday, September 9th, 2009 in Inside CS-Cart

Ecommerce is not just a projection of a brick-and-mortar market into the World Wide Web. It provides sellers with the ability to offer new types of products not usually sold in “physical” world. Digital goods are usually sold as files, and their categories vary from ebooks and software distributives to audio and video.

CS-Cart is completely ready for selling such kind of goods and has all the necessary tools to automate the process. Any product can be market as downloadable and associated with the corresponding files stored in a secure area. As soon as the order is placed and the payment is completed, a customer receives a special download link which can be followed to get the resource he ordered. It’s also possible to define a period during which a download link will be active.

File addition for a downloadable product

File addition for a downloadable product

By they way, we are sometimes asked if it’s possible to generate license keys for egoods automatically. CS-Cart does not provide such functionality out of the box, and the reason is that these generators are very different for each product. However, if you have such an algorithm, it can be easily integrated as an extra functionality.

Increased performance for high-capacity stores: how we achieved it

By Michael Gunin, Friday, August 28th, 2009 in Inside CS-Cart

CS-Cart version 2.0.7 (released just recently) includes significant performance optimization which was done specifically for highly-loaded and large (more than 100,000 items) online stores. We have decided to provide some general insight into the approach we’ve used. Ilya Shalnev, Chief Architect of CS-Cart, shares the results of this work:

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The testing has taken place on Core 2 Duo e5400 server with 4Gb RAM and 250Gb SATA HDD working under CentOS 5.3.

Our method was quite simple: as SQL queries make the most significant impact on server-side performance, we have performed the debug and picked all MySQL queries taking more than 0.01 second on our server.

The debug was done on a test store with 100,000 products stored in 500 categories (with a maximum of 4-level depth).

Other important aspects of product specifications include:

  • Number of secondary categories: 1 – 30%, 2 – 20%, 3 – 10%;
  • Product options used: color – 40%, size – 20%, color and size – 30%;
  • Product descriptions: “description_one” – 50%, “description_two” – 10%, “description_description” – 10%;
  • Product quantity discounts used: for 2 products – 10%, for 3 – 20%, for 5 – 40%;
  • Tags used: “test” – 60%, “sample” – 70%;
  • Thumbnail image used: 100%;
  • Number of additional images: 1 – 10%, 2 – 10%;
  • “Featured Products” blocks: 7 products – 50%, 5 products – 50%;
  • Product features used: Manufacturer – 30%, Format – 10%;

Next, we’ve performed the optimization of these queries by changing the database structure and using some other methods.

The table below outlines the end results for MySQL queries and PHP code execution for various page types of a test store with 100 000 products:

Page Execution time before optimization, sec: Execution time after optimization, sec:
Home page 0,09 0,09
Category page (2 000 products) 5,68 0,37
Advanced search page (clear, all products found) 52,77 18,38
Advanced search page (by description, 1 299 products found) 301,18 10,04
Advanced search page (price range from 2 000 to 7 000, 40 389 products found) 22,89 8,76
Advanced search page (price range from 2 000 to 5 000, 200 products found) 0,57 0,27
Advanced search page (no products found) 267,78 1,46

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As you can see, in most cases we have managed to make most resource-consuming queries execute about ten or more times faster than before! So, it is safe to assume that CS-Cart has become much faster on high loads, allowing your online stores to keep running smoothly even with a large product base and/or at the peak of popularity.

Another feature we have introduced is caching for queries which take more than 3 seconds to complete. Such queries are not executed for the second time and their results are seamlessly taken from cache. In case the content of corresponding tables changes, the cache is cleared in order to be filled with the new data.

Still, we are sure that many of you would be interested to know what else can be done to achieve even higher page loading speed, so stay tuned to receive further information on optimizing CS-Cart performance.

An easy way to place your own logos into CS-Cart

By Michael Gunin, Wednesday, August 26th, 2009 in Inside CS-Cart

Corporate logos are the key part of any brand identity. Therefore, it is obvious that you will definitely need to place them into your online store interface and replace the default ones.

In some systems, this may involve looking for corresponding templates, editing the code and uploading logo images via FTP or hosting control panel. With CS-Cart, however, the process is much easier: everything is done via a special section of the administration panel without the necessity for source code changes and file manipulation.

Choosing logos for various store sections

Choosing logos for various store sections

The interface allows to choose your own logos not only for the customer area, but also invoices, login forms, gift certificates and administration area. You may upload graphic files directly from your computer, find them on your server via a convenient file browser or indicate the path via an external URL.

As soon as the file is chosen, you can immediately see it to ensure that the right logo is picked. So, it takes minimal time to set your own logos in order for the store interface to reflect your own visual style – and make people see that the store they visit is yours.