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What is CS-Cart Hosting?
CS-Cart is an ecommerce software application written in PHP that lets you build an online store, even if you don’t know anything about websites or programming. Setting up an online store might seem difficult or daunting. From design choices to payment gateways to loading product options, there’s a lot to do.
Ecommerce solutions are often either too complicated and hard to use, or don’t offer enough options to make the online store really your own. That balance between ease-of-use and power is hard to achieve, but CS-Cart may have found the sweet spot.
CS-Cart is a proprietary ecommerce solution written in PHP. It runs as a standalone website, and does not need to be plugged-in to another CMS like WordPress or Drupal. CS-Cart comes in three versions: Free, Premium, and Multi-Vendor.
The Free version is a scaled-back “lite” version. It can be used for basic online shopping experiences, and is a good choice for small stores. A good example of a store that would fit the Free version well is a merchandise shop for an organization that isn’t primarily selling products. This would be good for a school, club, church, or even a theatre or band.
The Premium version of CS-Cart, which can be purchased in a single payment or licensed on a month-to-month basis, provides the advanced features needed for running a large ecommerce site. This includes things like Returns Management, Multiple Currencies, and Advanced Search options.
The Multi-Vendor version is especially interesting, as it allows you to create a network of independent sellers operating their own “stores,” all on the same website platform. The administrator of the entire system can charge individual store owners in a subscription model, or can take a percentage of revenue (or can let vendors use the platform for free).
CS-Cart has a robust theming system based on the SMARTY templating engine. This lets sellers create their own front-end experiences, or install and use one of over a hundred available themes.
The CS-Cart system also includes a rich set of APIs and programming hooks for adding custom functionality and plugins. Over 300 plugins are already available, and you can develop your own if there is some novel functionality you need.
Key CS-Cart Features
- Browser-based install wizard
- Upload the core files to your web hosting company, and the built-in one-click installation wizard manages the entire install process. This includes initial store configuration settings as well.
- Open source code
- Even though the software is available under a proprietary license (you have to pay for it), the code itself is open source. This means you can inspect it and even modify it if needed.
- Easy to use admin control panel
- All of your e-store’s stats and activity are displayed in one place, with links to common store tasks like creating new products, updating billing information, and setting up sales.
- Bulk Upload and Import of Store Items
- Whether copying product and customer information from another shopping cart solution, a CRM database, or a spreadsheet your intern prepared, CS-Cart can import bulk data for most data items related to the store, including products, customers, and order history.
- Internationalization and Localization
- Fully internationalized with UI string replacement. Localized into 8 languages currently, and new languages can be added with a single file.
- Currency, measurements, addresses, and date formats can all be configured and switched to accommodate local conventions and data.
- Search Engine Friendly
- URLs are search-friendly. Meta-data is auto-filled and also customizable. Sitemap and product catalogs included. Breadcrumb navigation supported.
- Easy-to-use Templating System
- Both the storefront and the admin panel can be customized via SMARTY templates. No programming knowledge is needed to switch or customize themes and color schemes. Branding elements can be inserted via the admin panel.
- Unlimited Products
- Even with the free version, there is no limit to the number of individual products than can be created and sold.
- Digital Delivery
- Sell downloadable goods, like music or e-books, and let the CS-Cart system manage email delivery and download links.
- Advanced Discounts and Couponing
- Create coupons of all varieties, included limited use coupons, expiring coupons, percentage and flat-rate coupons, and single-item-only coupons. Discounts can be set up store-wide, or can apply only on certain conditions, such as order total.
- Membership Features
- Create a subscription membership system. Members can either sign up for free or can be required to pay. Restrict access to certain products or other content to members only, or give members special discounts and other deals.
- Detailed Product Options
- Products can include multiple options, which can also incur additional charges.
CS-Cart Web Hosting
CS-Cart can run on almost any web hosting account that has PHP 5.3+ and MySQL 4.1+. Some web hosting companies specifically support CS-Cart, which is helpful as it relies on a number of configuration details that you’d otherwise have to set manually. A few web hosting companies even provide one-click installation of the free version, which you can upgrade when needed.