So I have been searching for the best marketplace platform to start my apparel multivendor marketplace and I have found that Cs cart MV was always at the top 5 because of it's "fully customizable out of the box features, the no need for developer skills, simple drag and drop store editor and one time payment that doesn't need extra add-ons.
I do have a shopify store website that I built and run locally on my country, have joined other marketplaces as a vendor. I have also watched other MV platforms work on youtube. Most of my findings will be compared to what I have seen and experience with other ecommerce platforms.
So I went on and downloaded the 4.10.4 30 day demo, and is now on my third day of tinkering with the software. Some findings were already a deal breaker for me. Now bear in mind, I am no developer nor a programmer but I do know how to copy and paste and edit codes on some files as long as there are instructions on how to do it and what code to put. These are just a few of the things that come into mind.
1. Themes - Now, for the price of $1,450 dollars. I was expecting a lot more themes included in the software not just the theme clones where only the colors were different. The main home page was ok, not the best but still looks modern and intuitive but when you move to the product page that's where it get's a little old fashioned. I tried searching for themes that resembles some of the decent free shopify themes only to find out that these kinds of themes actually cost a lot in the cscart marketplace ranging from 70$-199$. I've also read somewhere in the forums that the look and feel of CScart in general is lagging way behind it's competitors.
2. Theme and Layout editor - Now, this was one of the reasons I wanted to try the demo was to see how "easy" it was to edit your store layout and themes. I was quite disappointed since it was only the texts and button colors that you are allowed to edit "on-site". I thought it was like the shopify theme editor where you just add, drag and drop objects on-site. The layout editor on the admin panel was even more confusing for me at first. Rearranging blocks would be more easier if it was seen live while you try and move it. Also, I had a hard time trying to figure out how to navigate this layout editor.
3. Vendor Registration Page - I was trying to figure out how to make the vendor registration page look more modern like how other ecommerce platforms show their subscription plans to would be vendors and show the available plans and it's advantages not just a drop down menu with a text block on the right but I couldn't find an easy way to do so.
4.1Vendor Panel - Now this is the most important for me, as your marketplace would only be successful if your vendors can easily navigate your vendor panel. Most vendors are not tech-savvy and would easily get lost on all the unnecessary clutter on cscart's vendor panel. For example why show the categories and features option when they can't add or edit custom categories and features. I think it would be more vendor-friendly if the vendor panel looks more like in the front end rather than a backend feature. Yes, I know there's an app to convert vendor panel to frontend that but it would cost another 200$.
4.2 Vendor Panel Adding Products - Adding products on this panel was really intimidating as there were lots of extra boxes for vendors to fill up which can really be omitted and not affect the end result whatsoever. Moreover, ADDING A VARIANT of a product was really complicated, and you can't really add a custom variant out of the box because it has to be included in the "features" that is only configured by the marketplace admin. I know you can edit a code in a file to activate that feature since I searched the forums for this but isn't that supposed to be a given? I really like how easy Shopify is when adding products, it was nicely laid out and easy to add variations of a certain product.
4.3 Vendor Store front - Limited options to edit. I can't seem to find an easy and free option where a vendor can put a banner and a background image for their micro-store. When I joined the Lazada marketplace, it was easily done on their store front editor.
That's all for now, since I haven't finished testing the software but to summarize:
TL:DR - Cs cart can be an amazing product with lots of features out of the box and a completely editable code but sometimes it's more of a disadvantage rather than the other since it can be overwhelming and intimidating for someone who is just starting. A lot of problems I encountered can "easily" be resolved ONLY IF you know what to look for, if you are a programmer/developer or have LOTS of money to buy marketplace addons or to hire a developer. Marketing it as "for business owners not developers" is an overstatement. I do understand the community is very small compared to well known platforms, but I don't think they'll catch up anytime soon if they don't make it more user friendly in the future. For the price of $1,450 dollars for a one-stop solution, I've expected more.
PS: I may be wrong with all my findings so please do educate me since I'm really in need of a good multivendor marketplace solution and CSCART might be it.