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- Date Established
- Highly customizable
- Intuitive UI
- Advanced features
- Developer skills required
- Annual upgrade fee
- Expensive customer support
X-Cart is a licensed shopping cart that lets you sell products securely from your own server. Since its launch in 2001, X-Cart has grown to support over 35,000 stores in 111 countries. Combined, all of those stores rake in an annual gross merchandise volume of over $2.5 billion. X-Cart offers two selling solutions: a shopping cart solution (build your own online store) and a multivendor solution (build your own marketplace). For the sake of this review, we will be focusing primarily on their shopping cart solution. Keep in mind that the platform is open-source and is based on PHP/MySQL, so the ideal user would have some understanding of PHP, or at least the resources to hire someone who does. Read on for a breakdown of X-Cart’s pricing and an unbiased analysis of the platform.
Table of Contents
X-Cart comes as two different products, and both of them have their own unique (and complicated) pricing models. The two products are labeled on the website as X-Cart (which is version 5) and X-Cart Classic (versions 4.x). Essentially, what you need to know is that X-Cart is the current product (when you click the “Features” tab on the X-Cart website, you’ll see features from X-Cart version 5). Because X-Cart Classic is the older product, larger updates will no longer be applied to it. The company will, however, continue to maintain the platform for the time being. I’ve divided the pricing model by product. Unfortunately, each level comes with a different set of features, which makes things especially complicated. There are two things they all have in common: all plans come as lifetime licenses, which means you only pay once and the platform is yours, and X-Cart never charges transaction fees. That said, here are all seven of the different plans that X-Cart offers, listed with a few of the available features. X-Cart (Version 5)
- Free Edition — $0
- Unlimited Products and Orders
- Mobile Friendly Design
- Drag-and-Drop Layout Editor
- XML Sitemap
- Multilingual Capabilities
- One-Step Checkout
- Real-Time and Preset Shipping and Tax Quotes
- Product Options and Attributes
- Bulk Import/Export
- …and More
- Business — $495
- Includes All of the Above, PLUS:
- Multiple Currencies
- Product Comparison
- Product Filters
- Product Reviews
- Facebook, Google, and PayPal Login Support
- Ability to Attach Files to Products
- Product Variants and Combinations
- …and More
- Multivendor — $1,495
- The multivendor solution is a totally different shopping cart than the two above. Instead of allowing you to create an online store, it lets you create an online marketplace. Essentially, you can build your own eBay where many vendors can come to sell their products.
- Ultimate — $5,995
- Ultimate includes multivendor capabilities and even more additional advanced features, like the following:
- Advanced Top Menu
- Shop by Brand
- Infinite Catalog Scrolling
- Recurring Payments
- Ability to Save and Accept Credit Cards
- Abandoned Cart Recovery
- Exit Offers
- Loyalty Program
- Store Installation by X-Cart Team
- 1 Year of X-Payments Hosted
- Excel Export/Import
- Google reCAPTCHA
- and More
Note: X-Cart Ultimate used to be priced at $3,995. On April 13, 2017, X-Cart rolled out a new Ultimate offering, with a few dozen additional features. They raised the price of the plan to match the new functionality. For a full breakdown of the features that are available, click this link.
X-Cart 4.x Gold
- Built-In Responsive Design
- Product Options and Combinations
- Downloadable Products
- Featured, Cross-Sale, and Related Products
- Coupons and Special Offer Tools
- SEO-Friendly Catalog
- MailChimp Integration
- Predictive Search
- Facebook Store App
- International and Multilingual Support
- Advanced Order Management
- Basic Customer Reviews
- Affiliate Partner Program
- Access Levels and Memberships
- All of the above, PLUS:
- On Sale and New Arrival Products
- Banner System
- Sign-In via Social Media (Facebook, Google, etc.) Powered by Janrain.com
- Advanced Customer Reviews
- Multiple Currencies
- Custom Order Statuses
- Email Account Activation
- Email Product Notifications for Customers
- All of the above, PLUS:
- Multiple Vendors
- Separate Vendor Back-End
- Separate Vendor Shipping and Tax Rates
- Product Wizard
- Feature Comparison
- One-Year Support
All of X-Cart’s plans come with one year of free upgrades. After that year, if you’d like to continue receiving the latest upgrades and developments, you’ll need to pay an annual subscription fee (which can be quite pricey). Here are the annual subscription fees for X-Cart (Version 5).
And here they are for X-Cart Classic.
Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed
All of X-Cart’s solutions are locally-installed. You only pay once, but you’ll have to maintain your own web hosting and security. Or, you can choose to use X-Cart for your hosting. They offer plans from $29.95/month to $399/month. Some of these plans even include an X-Cart license and technical support. View X-Cart’s hosting plans.
Specific Size Of Business
X-Cart has plans to fit every business, from startup to enterprise. However, X-Cart is best for mid-size to enterprise-level businesses.
Hardware & Operating System Requirements
X-Cart has very specific system requirements, and after a pricing scheme like the one above, I think we could all use a break from long lists. So, you can check out those requirements on X-Cart’s site.
Ease Of Use
In order to really try out X-Cart, you can download their free edition. Because X-Cart is a self-hosted platform, you will have to take care of the downloading and installing yourself. If you’re a little intimidated by everything that page entails, X-Cart offers an installation service for $75, which, in my opinion, is totally worth it if you aren’t used to this level of technology. Fortunately, if you don’t want to go to all that trouble (or you want to try out a platform with more features), X-Cart offers a 14-Day Free Trial, no credit card required. You can also try a limited demo of X-Cart without submitting any information at all. Upon signing up for my free trial, I immediately received an email with login details. I quickly jumped over to my shiny new admin. Here’s the dashboard: I was pleased to find that the trial was already filled with sample products and fake orders. It really helped give me a feel for how the software works without having to spend tons of time plugging in fake information. That said, I did add my own products. Adding a product is a two-step process. You first add the basic product information and save. From there, you are directed to another page with more detailed product information, like attributes, categories, and shipping. When I first logged into the admin, I noticed a couple of notifications in the upper-left corner. One notification alerted me to low stock on a few of my sample products (thereby demonstrating X-Cart’s inventory management features) and the other showed me my store’s recent orders. I took a look at X-Cart’s discount feature as well. It’s far from the most sophisticated I’ve seen (I’m only able to narrow my discount to apply to certain categories, not specific products), but it isn’t terribly limited. Fortunately, it’s a cinch to use. As far as self-hosted platforms go, X-Cart is as user-friendly as it gets. Sure, you have to take the time to download and install the platform (which is a pain, but hey, there’s always that installment service), and you’ll have to maintain the platform with regular upgrades, but fortunately, day-to-day operations are fairly intuitive. X-Cart scores highly in terms of ease of use for the admin.
As I’ve stated before, when you select the Features and Pricing pages on X-Cart’s website, you’ll be presented with all the features for X-Cart 5. I’ve sought to make things a little easier for you by consolidating the feature list below. Admin
- Order management: Create and edit orders for your customers from the admin.
- Marketplace integration: Integrate with eBay and push your products to a marketplace using X-Cart’s bulk export features.
- Fraud prevention tools: Use X-Cart’s “Antifraud” app.
- Mobile admin: Manage your online store from any mobile device.
- Responsive design: Use X-Cart’s mobile responsive templates.
- Mobile POS: Accept payments on the go with PayPal and an iPhone, iPad, or Android.
Inventory and Product Management
- Track inventory: Track each product by its variants so that you never sell a product you don’t have on hand.
- View best sellers and low stock: Know which products you should purchase more of in the future.
- Sell digital products: Don’t forget to disable shipping for these products.
- Auction features: Allow your customers to bid on unique items.
- Filtered search: Let customers narrow their search results using product attributes.
- Cloud search: Offer a site-wide search engine with search suggestions and spell check.
- Sell globally: Enable your site to display different currencies and languages.
- Auto-calculate shipping and totals: Make sure those totals display in the correct currency.
- Real-time shipping quotes: Connect your platform to major shipping carriers (Australia Post, Canada Post, FedEx, UPS, USPS) to display accurate shipping quotes from each provider.
- Custom shipping costs: Set your own shipping costs based on flat rates, weight, order totals, or per-item costs.
- Checkout options: Create one step checkout or multiple step checkout, depending on what works best for your site.
- Checkout as guest: Allow customers to purchase your products without committing to an account.
- Loyalty program: Award customers for their continued business.
- Abandoned cart reminder: The grand majority of shopping carts are abandoned at checkout. Reclaim a few of those transactions with automated emails.
- Exit offers: Set exit-intent pop-ups to keep customers on your site for a little longer.
- Discounts: Offer discounts on specific categories and offer volume discounts.
- Newsletters: Integrate with MailChimp to keep in contact with your customers.
- Up-sale and cross-sale: List and display related products.
- Ratings and reviews: Inspire customer confidence with genuine customer feedback.
- Social media integration: Let customers share your products and pages on their social media sites.
SEO and Stats
- SEO tools: Create clean URLs, page titles, META tags, XML sitemaps, and rich snippets.
- View site reports: Try it using Google Analytics, Yandex.Metrix, Cloud Search, MailChimp, and Diib analytics.
X-Cart offers 72 different templates. Five of these templates are free, and the rest are priced between $49 and $149. Design-wise they are, well, not awesome. They aren’t hideous, but they are certainly behind the times, and I wouldn’t be willing to pay $149 for most of them. Here is one of the least offensive templates and an example of a more dated template…
There are a few ways you can go about editing your storefront, depending on your skill level. For those who are on the first page of their Web Design for Dummies Handbook, X-Cart provides a drag-and-drop editor. You can use this editor to rearrange large blocks of content on your website, but you can’t do much else with it. In order to make larger changes to your design, you’re going to have to edit the CSS style sheets. You can either do that in the admin or in the webmaster mode (which might give you a better idea of exactly which section you are editing). In the screenshot below, you can see what webmaster mode looks like… For the most part, if you want to customize your site, you’ll need to know CSS, or at least know someone who can help you with it.
Integrations & Add-Ons
All of X-Cart’s integrations and add-ons are available in their marketplace. You can filter by edition in the upper left-hand corner to view the apps available for the platform you own. Most of the modules listed in this marketplace are not integrations with other software, but are add-ons for your platform. There are, however, a few integrations available that you may recognize. Here are a few.
- ShipWorks (Free)
- DHL Shipping (Free)
- MailChimp Integration (Free)
- eBay Integration (Free)
You can find X-Cart’s list of 80+ payment processors in their add-on marketplace. Here are a few options you may know and love:
- Amazon Payments
- Sage Pay
- eSelect Plus (now Moneris)
Customer Service & Support
As with most self-hosted shopping carts, you’re largely on your own when it comes to technical support. In order to get X-Cart’s help, you have to pay for their services, which include development, web design, technical support, and hosting. X-Cart offers 24/7 customer support with their hosting plans. For $199/mo or $399/mo, you’ll receive hosting and support along with an X-Cart license, provided you sign up for the annual plan. You can also purchase a single-incident support plan or a support subscription plan for personalized assistance. Otherwise, you’re going to have to pursue some self-help routes. Here are a few resources X-Cart provides.
- Help & Docs: The home base for everything support related.
- Blog: Stay on top of updates, new versions, and releases.
- FAQs: Find answers to all of your pre-sales questions.
- Developer Docs: Access the knowledge base for X-Cart 5 developers.
- Community Forums: Post questions and engage with an active user community.
- HelpDesk: Sign in to your HelpDesk account (for current clients only),
- Contact: Submit a question to sales or use another contact method below.
- Email: email@example.com
- USA: 1-800-657-7957
- UK: 0-800-048-8862
- International: +7 (499) 608-8900
Negatives Reviews & Complaints
In general, customers appear to be satisfied with X-Cart. However, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have a few complaints about the software. Here are a few of the negative comments I encountered online, mixed with a couple of my own concerns:
- Price: This complaint is mine. In order to benefit from X-Cart’s continued development, you’ll have to pay for annual subscriptions, which are not cheap. Add those expenses to the cost of web hosting, security, web development, and any technical support that you may purchase, and you’ve got an expensive platform on your hands.
- Limited Customer Support: Support from a real-life human is not free. If you’re trying to save money on your support plan, you’ll need to utilize X-Cart’s self-help tools as often as possible. Customers say it can take a while to receive a response from an X-Cart support representative.
- Dated Themes: While X-Cart’s themes are fully mobile responsive, they are far from trendy. I’ve seen a bit of improvement lately, but they’ve still got a long way to go.
- Learning Curve: Clients report that X-Cart is not the easiest system to learn or to teach to employees.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
The most positive reviews I found were on X-Cart’s clients page, which is to be expected. What’s nice is that these pages are actually written by the customers themselves, so while they’re filtered by X-Cart, they are not written by X-Cart. Here are a few other positive comments I found:
- Customizability & Flexibility: Customers report that it’s easy to make changes to their stores’ capabilities. A common phrase is, “My business plans are not limited by what my platform can do.”
- Helpful Customer Support: I’ve seen loads of customer comments (including on this very review) praising X-Cart’s support team. Reportedly, the company can handle custom code very well and is thorough when it comes to technical assistance.
- Scalability: Lots of the customers on X-Cart’s “Success Stories” page have been using X-Cart for years. As their companies grow, they are able to alter their platforms to handle their stores’ new needs.
- Intuitive Dashboard: This my own opinion. I was really surprised by how easy it was to use X-Cart’s admin. It was just as easy to use as any fully hosted, cloud-based solution. I was also impressed by X-Cart’s drag and drop theme editor.
Because X-Cart is a self-hosted solution, you are responsible for maintaining your site’s security. Among other things, that means buying an SSL certificate, which you can purchase for your X-Cart platform starting at $89.95/year. You’ll also need to ensure that your site is PCI compliant. You can do this by accepting payments via a PCI-compliant payment processor. Or, you can use a PA-DSS certified software (like X-Payments) to accept card numbers directly on your site. Take a look at X-Cart’s advice on ensuring PCI compliance.
As far as features go, you could do much worse than X-Cart. This eCommerce platform appears to have enough functionality (and customizability, if you have the technical ability) to handle growing businesses. What gives me pause is X-Cart’s pricing (and not just because it’s mind-bogglingly confusing). In order to keep your site up to ever-changing industry standards, you’ll have to spring for the annual subscription. Every year, you’ll have to pay 20-50% the amount you originally paid for the platform. Compared to free, open-source solutions like Magento, X-Cart is expensive. In my opinion, X-Cart redeems itself (in pricing, at least) with the hosting plans. $199/month for a platform, hosting, and support is much more in line with other eCommerce solutions geared toward mid-size and larger businesses. If I were to use X-Cart myself, this is likely the plan I’d subscribe to. If you’re interested in X-Cart for your online store, I recommend you click the link below to download your own free version of the platform. Test it out before you make the plunge.