Advice and opinions needed for shopping cart

Hi, I’ve been browsing this forum, various shopping carts, and some cart review/info sites for the past 2 weeks… and I think I’ve given myself a massive headache. Can someone give me some opinions on the following carts (new recommendations welcome too)?

A little background on what we’re looking for and/or need…

  • Price range up to $300
  • Has discount/award features like coupons, reward points system, affiliates, etc.
  • Upsell features or options that recommends similar products or products that other buyers have also purchased
  • Optional registration for checking out (meaning not required to register in order to purchase)
  • Important: clean validated coding, CSS based (or ones where it’s easily customized to become one if the default template is in tables)
  • Search engine friendly and SEO options
  • Options for multiple pictures and beautifully done for browsing pics (thumbnails and large)
  • Fast and hopefully not too resource heavy

Also, I don’t know if shopping carts generally offer this… but is there usually a feature for adding buyer comments for a purchase that might include an item that requires some sort of customization?

Carts that we have narrowed down to and are currently considering:

  • CS Cart (was told it was full of features but also very resource heavy…?)
  • CubeCart (I keep hearing mixed reviews about this one)
  • SunShop (customer service issues?)
  • JShop (we’re quite interested in this but we read somewhere that it was a huge hassle for those outside of the UK… something about the check-out form?)
  • ViArt (horrible coding and tables based?)
  • Squirrel Cart (tables based too and outdated?)

As you can see, we’re going nowhere. We’re new to this and would need one that’s easy to use and customize. We also don’t want to use any of the defaut templates… so to be able to change the layout and code it our way easily is very important.

For those who may have used any of the carts listed above, I would greatly appreciate any opinions or comments on your experience with them. Thank you very very much!

Miva Merchant is the best as far as I am concerned. Most of the features you’re looking for come stock on it and there are many inexpensive custom modules available for the extra features. It’s free if you sign up for hosting with a Miva Merchant hosting partner - you’ll get a free Miva Merchant license. Feel free to contact me off list for more specific info if needed.

I’m currently looking at a few carts for a clients website and based on some research the two I’ve narrowed it down to are:

  1. Sunshop

toptenreviews dot com / sunshop-review dot html

  1. CS Cart

Sunshop is ahead for me at the moment for all the great features including being able to check your store stats on your iphone (small feature in the grand scheme of things but the client loved it)

I am definitely in the exact same boat as you…so I would love any and all responses/advice that people have. I’m going through loops with all the options and the only way I’ve found to actually see if I like a product is to spend numerous hours/days using the free trial or talking to a sales person which ends up wasting a lot of my time.

Have you checked out Avactis? What about [URL=“”]PinnacleCart? PinnacleCart is a little out of your price range but not by too much. It’s $600 and has a ton of features. Avactis is only $200.

The only cart in your list that I have heard much about is CS-Cart and I believe it is based on an older version of OSCommerce. I’m not sure how much of it they rewrote from scratch but OSCommerce wasn’t really known for great code back in the day…

I though CS-cart was created by few ex X-cart developers?

@ thirteen - welcome to Sitepoint!

I use Jshop a lot, what non-UK hassles have you heard? Out of the box the only thing I can think of is that it’s default currency is GBP, but that’s easily changed. The checkout is currently a 2/3/4 step process depending on how you set things up but there is an optional single page checkout being developed which should be out soon.

My bad… I must be thinking of a different cart.

I was thinking of CRELoaded… Too many shopping carts in my head!

Regarding CS-Cart resource consumption: we’ve performed a major optimization in recent versions, and now it runs smoothly even on heavy-loaded and large stores. How many products will you need approximately? Also, we have a list of recommended hostings which many of our clients use and where CS-Cart works without a hassle.

A lot of hosts will offer free or greatly reduced hosting costs for non profits. Just ask around, the worst they can say is no.

And who can say no to animals? A sicko… thats who…

> ViArt (horrible coding and tables based?)
> Squirrel Cart (tables based too and outdated?)

Thats true! :slight_smile:

I work with these shopping carts recently

Has anyone any information on using hosted paid monthly carts like foxy cart over buying an owned cart solution? I realise the set up is way more tricky and that a much bigger hosting package would be required. Are there any other pros and cons!?

The biggest con with hosted packages is you’re stuck on their proprietary system, often with no way to export your data. If something goes wrong, you have no redundancy and no way to move quickly.

Think of a failure in the middle of your peak selling season… being down for just a few days could be disastrous to your business. I’ve never used a completely hosted solution but was with a host (won’t mention who) that was horrible to work with. They setup our first e-commerce system (this is back in 1999-2000) and at one point our website went down for 2-3 days. Yes DAYS.

The only thing that saved us was after the first whole day of downtime, I signed up with another host and restored our site from a backup I had. By the end of the 2nd day we were up and DNS was propagating to the new servers.

If a hosted e-commerce system has that problem, you have nowhere to go. If they go out of business, what will you do then?

I’m not saying that I would never use a hosted solution, I actually like BigCommerce and Shopify but these are just the risks you take to get an “easy” hosted solution.

There are, of course, risks associated with using a standalone system as well…

Thanks for that Brandon, I hadn’t thought of it like that and if something was to go wrong with the hosted solution it would be a disaster.

I think a standalone system like cs-cart might just be the best fit for my client.

Like Brandon said, with a self-hosted solution there are pitfalls as well. Odds are with any hosted solution (FoxyCart, Shopify, Big Cartel, etc.) they’re running on serious hardware with as much redundancy as they can possibly afford. Similarly, if there’s a security issue with a hosted app you can bet your service fee that they’ll be all-hands-on-deck to fix it asap, as a security breach could cause irreparable harm to both the company’s bottom line as well as their reputation.

Same thing with downtime. I can’t speak for any others, but when FoxyCart goes down for even a moment we have at least three people notified immediately and on the issue as quickly as possible. If you self-host and your client’s site goes down you may be the last to find out unless you have monitoring. Even then, if it’s an issue with your shared hosting there’s still not much you can do.

Compare that with the average self-hosted install, which will be on a (possibly overcrowded) single-point-of-failure shared-hosting account. If there’s a security issue you may not even be aware of it unless you diligently subscribe to the appropriate mailing lists, and even when you’re made aware now you have to upgrade the site for your client. And your client has to pay for your time, which they may not be happy about.

There’s also the very real problem of PCI compliance for many merchants. With a hosted service the PCI compliance requirements are usually greatly reduced or eliminated. (Between the SSL certificate, insurance, and PCI compliance + security scanning, a hosted solution may very well be more affordable for your client.)

There are definitely pros and cons for both self-hosted and hosted. I hope this is an appropriate post, and isn’t considered promotional. I just wanted to suggest that there are indeed very valid reasons for a hosted solution.