- Free trial doesn’t require credit card
- Deep design customization
- Numerous features
- Steep learning curve
- Pricing over-complicated
- Annual fee for software upgrades
- Expensive customer support
is a licensed shopping cart that lets you sell products securely from your own server. X-Cart was launched in 2001 as the world’s first PHP shopping cart software. Since then, X-Cart has grown to support more than 38,000 stores in 111 countries. Combined, all of those stores rake in an annual gross merchandise volume of more than $3 billion.
X-Cart offers two products. The first is its open-source software, for which you can purchase a license (a free version is available) and then build your own site or marketplace from the ground up. There’s also a hosted solution that allows you to build an online store. 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
To begin with, X-Cart offers a free 30-day trial, with no credit card required for signing up. So you can make an account and try it out before you commit to a paid plan. There’s also a free edition: Download the open-source software and build a store yourself, and you’ll have ongoing access to upgrades and everything you need to set up an online store. Of course, with the free edition, you will be responsible for finding and paying for site hosting.
There are two basic versions of X-Cart: version 4 and version 5. It’s still possible to use version 4, although it’s not fully supported anymore. For this review, all references are to version 5.
If you have the necessary coding know-how and want to build your own website, you can purchase a lifetime license and build your own website. You will need to arrange site hosting with these plans:
Free Edition: $0
You can use the entry-level version of X-Cart for free, for life. Here is some of what you’ll get:
- Unlimited products and orders
- Unlimited admin & staff accounts
- Open-source code
- Drag-n-drop layout editor
- XML sitemap
- Multiple languages
- Accept credit cards
- Two free and 50+ paid themes
- Payment and fulfillment order statuses
- XSS- and CSRF-attack protection
- Lifetime access to new features and bug fixes
For the price, you gain a lifetime license with one year of access to software upgrades, all the features from the free edition, and these additional benefits:
- Multiple currencies
- Amazon S3/Cloudfront integration
- Product comparison, filters, & reviews
- Facebook, Google, and PayPal login for customers
- Downloadable products & file attachments
- Selling codes, activation numbers, license keys
- Bulk editing
- Messaging customers
- Wholesale prices & discount coupons
- Sale products & related products
- Two-factor authentication
At this level, you can build your own marketplace with multiple vendor accounts. The lifetime license comes with one year of access to software upgrades and includes all features from the Business edition plus these:
- Warehouse operation mode
- Trusted & non-trusted vendors
- Individual commission rates for each vendor
- PayPal Adaptive with automatic commissions transfer
- Transaction history for each vendor
Your lifetime license includes all Multivendor features plus:
- One paid theme
- Tree-like category menu
- Shop by brand
- Infinite catalog scrolling
- Product stickers
- Paid memberships
- Hide prices for non-registered users
- Recurring payments
- Amazon Feeds
- eBay integration subscription (1 year, Large plan)
- Loyalty program
- Products carousel
- Store installation by X-Cart Team
- X-Cart technical support for one year
- X-Payments Hosted for one year
If you’re looking for a hosted, scalable solution that can grow with your business, X-Cart Cloud offers three flexible plans that offer tiered benefits plus an enterprise option.
Cloud Essentials: Starting at $49/month
The list of features with the basic Cloud plan is impressive. Here are some of the highlights:
- Unlimited revenue for your online store
- Unlimited catalog
- Coupons & discounts
- Shipping customization
- Product ratings/reviews
- SEO tools
- Native fraud screening
- Digital products
- Bulk inventory import/export/update
- Sales tax collection
Cloud Business: Starting at $99/month
This plan adds the following features to the Essentials plan:
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Gift wrapping
- Pop-up modals
Cloud Premium: Starting at $199/month
The top-tier Cloud plan includes all lower-level features and adds some nice new ones, including these:
- Back-in-stock notifications
- Backorder and preorder
- Coupon giveaways
- Exit offers & special offers
- Feedback solicitation
- Loyalty program
- Pop-up checkout upselling
- Stored credit cards for repeat orders
- Order returns
- Profit reporting
- Tax exemption
Offering Enterprise-level solutions, X-Cart Enterprise offers options large vendors will find attractive:
- B2B eCommerce
- Retail options f0r in-person selling
- Custom development
- Native apps (iOS & Android) for your website
X-Cart Enterprise offers custom pricing, and you can enter your contact information to get a quote.
Every X-Cart plans come with one year of free access to upgrades to new versions of the software. After that year, if you’d like to continue receiving the latest upgrades and developments, you’ll need to pay an annual subscription fee. Depending on the plan you choose, fees can range from $99.95 to $5,995.
Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed
Choose a locally-installed X-Cart solution, and you will pay only once but you’ll have to maintain your own web hosting and security. Or you can choose to use a cloud-based solution and pay X-Cart for hosting. They offer plans from $29 to $399 per month. The top-tier plan includes premium online and phone support. All hosted plans include daily backup and either shared, dedicated, or EV SSL certificates. Again, you can expect to pay an annual subscription fee to access software upgrades.
Specific Size Of Business
X-Cart has plans to fit every business, from startup to enterprise. Users who select the Cloud plans will find it appropriate for any size business, even those operating a multivendor marketplace.
Hardware & Operating System Requirements
X-Cart has very specific and technical hardware and system requirements. If your system is not up to speed, the X-Cart installation wizard will let you know that something isn’t right. To start, you’ll need one of these browsers:
- Google Chrome, latest version
- Safari, latest version for MacOS X v10.8 and later, iOS7 and later
- Firefox, latest version
- Microsoft Edge, latest version
It’s worth looking into the details about installation and operating requirements before you choose X-Cart.
Ease Of Use
However, you can get a feel for how you can use X-Cart to operate an online store by signing up for a free 30-day trial, with no credit card required. After your account is confirmed, you can follow the link you’ll receive via email to enter your store name and phone number, then answer a question about where you’re at in the eCommerce process. After that, you can use an Onboarding Wizard to walk you through a demo store. You can leave the demo products intact and explore the admin, or you can delete the demo products and start to create your own storefront. That’s what I did, and I was taken to this admin page:
The admin panel was complete, clean, and ready to use to set up my store, manage inventory, track sales, view reports, and perform just about every function necessary to eCommerce. Compared to the admin panels I’ve worked with, X-Cart’s probably had more than the average number of functions built-in. For example, under the Marketing tab, I found links that let me link to or set up a MailChimp account, create and buy Facebook and Instagram ads, and create a link I could use to email a Buy Button or post online.
Before digging into marketing options, though, most users will want to set up their product catalog. Again, the options built-in seemed more than adequate.
You can import files (CSV, Excel, OpenDocument, or ZIP) to build or update your catalog. Or you can enter products individually. As you add products, you can add them to membership lists, such as the default Wholesaler, set the tax class, apply global discounts, input quantity so you can track inventory, set backorder status, enter shipping weight, and more. There’s also a section devoted to SEO. You can use autogenerated meta tags, descriptions, and URLs, or you can create your own. Because SEO is so important to eCommerce, having it appear on the page where you add products seemed appropriate.
As I explored the admin, I was able to create a coupon and an exit offer, create categories for my products, and post a product review. Overall, the admin had the functions needed to create and run a store, and every element I tested worked easily and as expected. While building an online store using X-Cart does require specialized knowledge, running that store seems about as user-friendly as it gets.
As stated above, X-Cart comes with impressive features out of the box, although not all features are available on every level plan. Here are some of the best, grouped by category:
- Order Management: Create and edit orders from the admin.
- Discounts & Coupons: Set parameters for sales and volume discounts as well as an interactive “discount roulette” wheel.
- SEO: Add your own SEO terms or edit the ones X-Cart automatically generates.
- Track Inventory: Track each product by its variants so you never “sell” a product you don’t have on hand.
- Categories: Group products by type.
- Images: Add multiple images for each product.
- Reviews: Let customers rate and review your products.
- Multiple Languages: Translate your storefront and product pages into more than 40 languages
- Accept International Payment: Add up to 120 payment integrations with global payment providers.
- Access International Shipping: Get real-time shipping rates from major carriers.
- Calculate international taxes: In addition to U.S. sales tax, you can set up VAT for European sales and PST/GST/HST for Canada and Australia.
- One-Page Checkout: Although fast lane checkout is the default, you can easily toggle to a one-page option.
- Cart TTL: Specify the number of days before a stored shopping cart should be considered abandoned.
- Automatic Tax Calculation: Set up tax classes, determine whether to use shipping or billing address for tax calculation, and set up taxes for shipments to Europe, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
- Checkout Options: Allow customers to make purchases as guests or to register for an account.
- View Best Sellers & Low Stock: Get notices for products you’ll need more of.
- Bulk Import/Export: Use CSV or spreadsheets.
- Subscriptions: Share notifications for back-in-stock items and price drops.
- Mobile admin: Manage your online store from your mobile device. Most platforms are supported.
- Responsive design: Use X-Cart’s mobile-responsive templates.
- Native app: Get your own iOS or Android mobile app
- Exit Offers: Set pop-ups to entice customers to stay on your site.
- Discounts: You can offer discounts on specific categories and offer volume discounts.
- Newsletters: Integrate with MailChimp to keep in contact with customers.
- Ratings & Reviews: Inspire customer confidence with genuine customer feedback.
- Up-Sell & Cross-Sell: List and display related products.
- Built-In Tools: Every time you list a product, clean URLs, meta tags, and more are automatically generated, though you can edit if you wish.
Reports & Analytics
- Order Reports: Segment orders by product, category, coupon, top customer, and more.
- Statistics: View information about all orders, best sellers, abandoned carts, and cart recovery.
- Filtered Search: Customers can narrow search results using product attributes.
- Wholesale Pricing: Offer special rates to customers you identify.
- Volume Discounts: Set parameters to offer discounts by percentage or dollar amount during a certain time frame and/or to certain customers who meet minimum sales totals.
X-Cart offers four free, basic templates with mobile-responsive designs. A new store is assigned a basic white theme, with three different colors and layouts that you can switch to. Of course, you’re probably going to want to at least check out the theme store, to see if it’s worth buying a theme — while the free themes are adequate, they’re not exactly exciting.
On the X-Cart App store, you can search about 45 paid themes by category — there are more than 30 of those — or browsed together. Prices range from $99 to $149, and at least compared to the free options, that seems like a bargain.
Integrations & Add-Ons
Visit the X-Cart App Store, and you’ll find thousands of integrations and add-ons in a searchable marketplace. If you have an add-on in mind, you can enter its name into the search bar, or you can search by category. Enter “shipping” for example, and you’ll see a total of 75 free and paid integrations that you can add to your store if you choose.
It seems safe to say you can expect to find almost any integration you need to run your online store.
In addition to X-Payments Cloud connector, you’ll find dozens of free and paid payment processors in the X-Cart App Store, including quite a few that enable international payments. Here are some options you may already know and love:
- Amazon Payments
Customer Service & Technical Support
Although you can download and use X-Cart’s open-source software at no charge, if you need help from the company, you’ll have to pay for it. X-Cart offers three levels of support:
Standard Plan: $165 per month if paid annually
- Response time up to 8 hours
- Unlimited support requests
- Minor upgrades (withing 4th digit)
Premium Plan: $250 per month if paid annually
- Response time up to 30 minutes
- Unlimited support requests
- Major upgrades (all branches)
- Performance audit
- SEO audit, annually
- Phone/chat support
- Images optimization
- Designed and priced for your individual needs
Additionally, all paid support plans include email support, logs analysis, diagnosis, store setup assistance, X-Cart installation, basic SEO audit, GDPR consultation, and security patching.
If you’d prefer to go the self-help route, you’ll find ample resources, including these:
- Help Center
- FAQ Section
- Contact Form
- Social Media
For what it’s worth, as I encountered a minor snag in setting up my store, I took the opportunity to call for help. My call was answered in a reasonable amount of time, and a friendly agent quickly determined that my situation required help from the support team. Although I did not have a paid account, I received an email within a couple of hours letting me know that my situation was resolved.
In general, customers appear to be satisfied with X-Cart. However, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have a few complaints.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Here are a few of the negative comments I encountered online:
- Outdated Themes: X-Cart’s themes are not as appealing as they could be. For those with advanced code ability, adaptations are not out of reach, but it would be nice to have more stylish, modern options out of the box.
- Learning Curve: Developer knowledge is a big asset.
- Price: Although X-Cart’s hosting plans are in line with industry standards, an additional annual subscription for upgrades after the first year is necessary. Add on the cost of technical support, and you suddenly have an expensive platform.
- Buggy Upgrades: Although upgrades can bring new features and welcome improvements, they also can cause unfortunate issues that can be expensive and time-consuming to fix.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
Even customers who grumbled about some aspects of X-Cart had praise for the platform as well. Here are some of the top positive comments:
- Customizability: One user reported trying to switch to other cart options “but always come back to X-Cart because it does everything and more than what I need.”
- Built-In SEO Functionality: Users who cited SEO as a positive X-Cart feature said it was “the most SEO-equipped software in the market.”
- Helpful Customer Support: It may be a case of getting what you pay for, but overall satisfaction with X-Cart’s support team was common, with users calling it “robust” and “attentive.” One user said, “They can modify the software to your needs.”
- Intuitive Dashboard: Outside of tech concern, users seem satisfied with the way they run their stores. “Products are added in a flash,” one user said. Another said, “Easy to understand the backend.”
If you use an X-Cart license to create your own self-hosted site, you will be 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 $73/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.
All X-Cart Cloud plans include secure VPS hosting.
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 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% of 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 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 test it out before you take the plunge.
We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.
We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.