What shopping cart platform to choose?”- this is the main question any online store owner faces. People who have ever tried to find an answer to this question know that there are lots of shopping cart solutions available in the market so that a newbie can be completely lost in examining all of them. In this article, we would just share our experience and knowledge about two e-commerce platforms – Magento and CS-Cart. Working in e-commerce area for many years, we had a chance to test and compare different shopping carts and came to a conclusion that if you are going to start an e-commerce business and your goal is a product/feature rich, stable online store with lots of possibilities, you should take a close look at Magento and CS-Cart.
The first stable version of Magento was released by Varien Inc. in 2008. The rapid worldwide success of this platform was due to its free usage on Magento Community edition, fully customizable open-source code and a large number of features which none of other free and hardly any paid platform has. There is also a paid Magento version named Magento Enterprise, but though it is fully supported and fast customized by the original Magento team and has exclusive advanced features, it’s not that popular because of the cost – for the present time a single-server license starts around $2,000 per year. In 2011 a leading auctioneer eBay got all rights on Magento by acquiring it.
The first CS-Cart version was launched in 2005 by Simbirsk Technologies Ltd was also known as CS-Cart company. From year to year, the product grew and accumulated new features. The 2008 year became a turning point for CS-Cart when fully-featured and flexible CS-Cart 2.0 was released. Nowadays, CS-Cart has gained popularity all over the world. CS-Cart has currently a free version with limited features. There is also a paid version CS-Cart Ultimate, but unlike Magento, paid CS-Cart version is more popular because of a surprisingly reasonable price for rich functionality and a lifetime license for $385.
Comparison between Magento and CS-Cart E-commerce System
Each technology has their advantages and disadvantages depend on usability. As per our point of view none of the technologies is perfect in their field, but yes they fulfill the requirement of using API, extensions, plugins, and modules. Magento and CS-Cart are two very well know the name of the online eCommerce system in PHP. Where Magento (Community version) is freely available for download and CS-Cart coming with paid license purchase based. Both have advantages and disadvantages in their implementation, support, online document. We as Dtech Systems implemented both eCommerce system for our clients as per their requirements.
Here is a feature wise comparison between Magento and CS-Cart:
|User Environment Design||Magento||CS-Cart|
|Front-end Design||Pretty Well||Not bad|
|Easy Design||None||Pretty Well|
|Admin Experience||Good||Pretty Well|
|Product Comparison||Pretty Well||Pretty Well|
|Intelligent Recommendations||Not bad||Not bad|
|Product Reviews||Not bad||Bad|
|HTML5 Image Uploader||Pretty Well||None|
|Bulk Product Update||None||Good|
|URL Rewrite||Pretty Well||Pretty Well|
|Free Shipping||Not bad||Not bad|
|Sell On eBay||Good||None|
|News or Blog||None||Average|
|Custom Contact Form||None||Perfect|
|Banners Management||Not bad||Perfect|
|Email Templates||Bad||Not bad|
|Return Requests||Not bad||Good|
|Order Statuses||Pretty Well||Good|
|Taxes||Pretty Well||Pretty Well|
|Store Locator||Pretty Well||Good|
Reading the CS-Cart and Magento reviews one can grasp an idea that these platforms are powerful, user-friendly and the best choice ever. The truth is near here but let’s look at these platforms from the developers’ point of view.
As per the developer’s feedback, Magento has a customizable open source code but, to tell the truth, the code is not that easy to figure out for an amateur programmer, say nothing of a non-programmer. Too many files and logic to dive into along with complicated script with a tone of layers. And there is actually no proper documentation which can help solve big problems. Zend Framework adds an extra level of complexity because not any programmer is familiar with it. But, according to the developer’s feedback, if you are a professional, after spending a certain time with Magento, you begin to understand how powerful it is and how many possibilities it has for an extension. Magento reskinning is not a trivial task and requires professional involvement.
CS-Cart is also a customizable open source code platform and actually a little bit easier to understand than Magento. Though, an amateur programmer has to learn a lot before making any major changes. But in hands of professionals CS-Cart platform is pleasant to work with. According to our developer’s feedback, there wasn’t any task that was impossible to implement on CS-Cart platform. CS-Cart is also easier to install. Magento installation can take some time and effort because it has more options. There is one inconvenience with CS-Cart – Smarty template engine makes CS-Cart skin difficult to modify, especially if you want a completely unique design which has nothing in common with CS-Cart basic skin. Reskinning is sure possible but you may need a proficient design integration service for this job. Thus, easy customizable open source code doesn’t mean that you can do customizations yourself, you are more likely to pay for them. Besides, Magento customizations are generally more expensive than CS-Cart custom works.
Before drawing any conclusions let’s look at a comparison table which gives a quick summary overview:
|Price||Free but Customizations are Expensive||$345-$395, Cheaper Customizations|
|Provided Functionality||Rich Functionality, Lots of Features||Rich Functionality, Less Extra Features|
|Speed||Good speed but for product-rich stores’ dedicated server is recommended. Hosting is Expensive.||Faster but you should also choose the right hosting for product-rich stores. Hosting is cheaper.|
|Customization Possibility||Customizable but you have to learn a lot or be a professional developer||Customizable but you have to learn or be a professional developer|
|Community||Active Community||Active Community with Free Assistance|
|Is it Live?||Yes, Constantly Evolving, Upgrades Available||Yes, Constantly Evolving, Upgrades Available|
|Free Modules||Over 500||Over 80|
Both platforms “CS-Cart and Magento” may serve the same purpose of offering a good number of powerful tools for creating and managing a fully-featured online store. Both CS-Cart and Magento can be a very good choice for fast-growing business. But if your goal is a website with basic shopping cart functionality (for example, catalog website), we would recommend something easier because Magento or CS-Cart Professional will be too complex to manage. In our opinion, Magento is a must-have solution for big stores who want to have an absolutely stable, robust, bug-free platform with complex shopping possibilities and who have a certain budget to spend on good hosting and customizations. As for CS-Cart, it is a reliable, fully-featured choice for small but growing, medium and big business, the platform is not free but unbelievably cheap for provided functionality which can be compared to Magento. CS-Cart custom works are cheaper and you are more free in choosing the right server. There are some more points to consider if you make a choice between Magento and CS-Cart, and all of them are connected with your personal business needs, budget, and available resources.