About CS Cart:
First version of CS-Cart was released in 2005 by Simbirsk Technologies Ltd. Current version at this time (Februar 2014) is 4.1.1. At the beginning CS Cart was not very popular software with just a few features and in my opinion with strange store front design and admin panel. In 2008 version 2.0 was released and this was a pretty huge step forward. Then in 2012 version 3.0 was introduced and this was i think a turning point for a CS Cart software. A lot of new features was added, new design has been introduced and all of the sudden CS Cart become one of the major players in shopping cart software.
Choosing the right software for you
There are many PHP shopping carts available and it's pretty hard to choose the right one. I have many experiences with them and i tell you what don't be too impressed with a first look at the software and with a nice admin panel design etc. When you decide for one of the software you are pretty much stick with it and you will work with it and maybe build new features, customize design etc. If you will realize that you make a mistake and choose the wrong one this could be a pretty costly mistake. You will lose both time and also money so i recommend you to try the software, read reviews, and most important install it and try to work with it (or at least try online demo). Seriosly not just take a quick look but try to add a new article, create new categories, if you have a list of products in Excel table for example take a look if there is an option to import articles, try to "buy" a product from your store and check if everything works as it should. Try to procced an order, remove product from order and add others into it from admin panel etc. All this things is important and it could "save your life" later. So don't be too impressed by just graphic interface and nice graphs in admin panel or anything like that.
Also consider about how big store you want to have. In my opinion CS cart is suitable for a store with at least 500+ products. For a smaller stores with just a few products you can also consider other shopping cart softwares (Presta shop, X cart, open Cart) or maybe even Wordpress plugins.
Competition (Magento vs CS Cart)
In my opinion Magento is one of the main rivals of Cs Cart software. Magento offers a community edition of their software which is free of charge. A lot of people use Magento so there is plenty of different themes (templates) available. There is a big Magento community so there is also a lot of other resources available (support forums, official forum, blogs with tips and tricks, plugins etc.) In case if you get stuck with Magento i guess you will pretty easily found a solution somewhere online. Good additional plugins are mostly payable and their official forum is not very helpful. If you will want an official Magento support it will be costly but like i said for the most problems you will get your solution online for free you just need to search on forums, blogs, stackoverflow etc.
Number of different (free) resources and high popularity of Magento is in my opinion the only really good thing for Magento.
CS cart on the other hand is not so much popular yet so there are not so much resources available. For questions and support you can mostly use their official support forum. There are not so many themes available and also not so much plugins. Cs cart comes with around 50 plugins build in and for most of the users this will be enough. If you want something special you will probably need to build it by yourself.
Good thing is that Cs cart source code is NOT encrypted and source code is logic and CS cart is not build in any framework so it's easy for implement new things or add some features. Sure you will need to have some PHP knowledge but it's still easier than in Magento. Magento source code is also encrypted so you will also need additional modules on your server to even install it and it's pretty hard to change anything later on except if you are a Zend framework guru.
Adding a new products in Cs cart is much more simple than in Magento. Cs cart also has an import wizzard so you can bulk import products from Excel file for example. Magento also has an bulk import option but it's much more complicated to use it and to use it right. I also notice that Magento over time and with many products start to works really slow. It's very annoying and it even work slow in admin panel. Saving a newly added products can take a while (few seconds). Administration of Magento and updating is pain in the ass. On the other hand i have no such problems with CS cart. It works the same as the very first day. Loads pretty quick, adding new products is fast, administration is easy and fast. So far i am very impressed with CS cart.
Free version of CS cart is now available (it wasn't before) with limited features. There is also a free community version of Magento available. Paid version of CS cart is surprisingly more popular than a free version and thats also because Cs cart offers a rich functionality for a very reasonable price ($385 one time fee).
In my opinion biggest Magento advantage is a big community and plenty of resources, plugins and themes. CS cart on the other hand is much more simple, contains all the plugins which online store should have it and it will be a great choice for 90% of the users. When you will need a help or advice you should visit CS cart official support forum there are not many other resources but good thing is that you will probably get an answer and it will be an official answer from CS Cart which is a good thing. So i would recommend you to choose a CS cart. Also check our table bellow.
| ||CS Cart||Magento|
|Price||Free - limited features /$385 - one time||Free community version / Customizations and other version are expensive|
|Functionality||Lots of build in features - less extra functions||Lots of features and (payable) plugins available|
|Speed ||Great speed even with more products ||Average speed at the beginning, bellow average after a while|
|Community ||Active official community - free help||Active community lots of other resources too |
|Customization||Need PHP knowledge but a lot easier than Magento||Need to be PHP and Zend framework expert|
|Updates||Pretty easy especially with default template ||Easy with default template, hard with custom design|
|Basic design change||Basic changes - easy with build in editor ||Not so easy|
|Admin panel|| User friendly and informative - good looking||User friendly and informative - good looking|
|Product adding ||Easy and fast ||Easy but not so fast|
|Bulk import ||Supported / working good ||Supported but not so easy|
|Orders handling || Easy with many features (add new product, remove product, cancel order, backorder, store credit...)||Not so good as in CS cart|
|Support ||Mostly free at official forum|
(extra request payable with reasonable prices)
|Mostly free if you find solution by yourself|
(high prices for official support)
|Architecture ||PHP/ MySQL and has a hook-based modular architecture - modify the cart's functionality without interfering with the existing source code. Smarty template engine and AJAX technology||built on the Zend framework and PHP/MySQL-based, it has an extensive use of AJAX technologies and modular architecture.|
|One page checkout||Yes||Yes|
|Mobile friendly version||Yes||Yes|
|Free addons||over 80 ||over 500|
|Maintenance||once you get it working it's pretty easy|
(works pretty much the same as the first day)
|Not so easy |
(can work slower and slower, additional plugins installation is not easy and can couse entire store probles with displaying errors etc.)
|Installation:||Pretty easy |
(works on most of the hostings)
|Need additional PHP libraries which need to be installed on server |
(also IonCube module)
Easy to install, use and maintance it
Mostly all features which you will need it is already there
Works fast even later with many products and categories
Easier to customize it and to add new custom features
Pretty easy to make basic graphic changes with build in editor
Good customer and invoice handling
Fast and easy adding of new products / bulk import
Build in plugins, build in CMS ...
Not so many free resources (forums, blogs, tips & tricks) but official forum is pretty good
Not many themes (templates) available