This CS-Cart release introduces numerous regular fixes and a bunch of marvelous improvements such as greater opportunities for more precise shipping rate estimation, reduced storefront load time, checkout through Amazon Payments™ and two brand new free design themes.
Less DB Queries, Faster Page Load
Number of database queries from the major front-end pages was reduced significantly. This is another step to huge performance gain, which follows block caching added to the previous CS-Cart version. Now front-end pages are loaded much faster even if visitors open them for the first time before the HTML output has been cached. The diagrams below reveal what our tests showed when we compared the number of database queries from different storefront pages in default installations of CS-Cart 2.1.2 and CS-Cart 2.1.3.
New Online Payment Processors
60+ online payment options available in previous CS-Cart versions were supplemented with three brand new payment processors: Payment21, Paytrace and the most eagerly awaited Amazon Payments™.
Revised Integration with Popular Shipping Services
Integration with the most popular shipping services was revamped completely in CS-Cart 2.1.3.
The most evident change concerns the location of configuration pages of shipping service providers that support real-time rate estimation (e.g., FedEx, DHL, USPS, etc.). They no longer use global settings, but are configured separately for each shipping method in the store. This change has the following advantages: the ability to set up two or more UPS (or FedEx, DHL, etc.) shipping methods with different accounts, and the ability to add a surcharge to real-time rates to cover extra expenses.
However, the most significant improvement concerns the accuracy of real-time shipping rate estimation for popular shipping service providers FedEx, DHL and UPS.
First, CS-Cart now supports multi-package shipping, i.e. it can assign products from the order to separate boxes, calculate the number of required boxes and send this info to a particular shipping service provider. The received callback with the final shipping cost will consider these packages. The number of necessary boxes is determined according to the products’ dimensions and minimum/maximum allowed number of product items in a box, which are defined on the product details page in the admin area.
Second, UPS users can enable their account-specific negotiated rates.
Third, shoppers are allowed to select the type of their shipping address: residential or commercial. This improvement is relevant to the shipping through FedEx only because UPS can detect the address type automatically while DHL does not consider this parameter at all.
Moreover, CS-Cart now connects to UPS, USPS, DHL and FedEx through their latest APIs. This not only brings the software up-to-date, but also enables a number of additional functionalities like the extra services by USPS.
Extra Features in CS-Cart Community
This free edition of our shopping cart software now includes two great features that were previously available only in commercial editions:
- SEO add-on to replaces ugly dynamic URLs with clean search engine friendly and human-readable URLs like http://www.example.com/true_product_name.html;
- Upgrade center to provide for a seamless automated upgrade of a store to a newer CS-Cart version directly from the web interface.
New Free Front-end Themes
Two brand new design themes were added to CS-Cart Professional and CS-Cart Multivendor. “Jewelry” is good for a web store selling decorations while “Food” will suit a web store selling food and drinks. Click on the thumbnail to zoom in.
To review the complete list of fixes and improvements in CS-Cart 2.1.3, please refer to the release changelog.