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Cart66 Lite review – WordPress plugin

Cart66lite review - baner

Cart 66 is a relaunched, upgraded version of a well known WordPress e-commerce plugin PHPurchase. With the new name and a few features also come a tad of controversy and new marketing approach. Previously there were 2 commercial versions for $49 and $99. Now there is a free Cart66 Lite and a commercial, fully-featured version for $89. In this review I will take a closer look at the “lite” version.

Cart66 Lite can be downloaded from the WordPress plugin page. The plugin’s homepage is unfortunately quite difficult to find since it’s not linked with the Cart 66 site. It is important because this is where you download the documentation from. Armed with documentation and teamed with users from an old PHPurchase forum and WordPress support I approached the plugin with big expectations.

Setting things up

At first Cart 66 settings page may seem long and complex but is in fact divided into nice and understandable sections. Among many things that can be changed there the most important for some users may be – currency and tax settings. The way these two elements are handled determines how usable the plugin will be in other than US or Canada countries.

Although we can set currency symbol there is no way to choose whether it will show before or after the numerical value (by default it shows before it). Calculating taxes is no better. In the documentation we read:

Cart66 Lite let’s [typo] you charge sales tax for all sales or you can specify tax rates by state, zip code, or zip code ranges. You can also specify whether or not you want to apply the sales tax to the shipping costs.

Unfortunately, the states in question are those from the US or Canada. The format of zip-codes is also US-like. Last but not least, if we want to do everything manually it is possible to set many tax rates…

cart 66 - setting multiple tax rates

…but we cannot assign them to products! Only the latest one is chosen and applied on checkout!

Categories and page hierarchy

The structure of the shop is built using pages or posts which change into product pages with the help of shortcodes – a solution already used in previously reviewed Quickshop.

Just like in Quickshop, to create a product we first need to set it on a separate page. Next, we incorporate this data into posts/pages using the already-mentioned shortcodes. After publishing, instead of the shortcode we will see the price and add-to-cart button. Regrettably, the quantity of products cannot be set there – we can do this only in the cart.

Even though employment of shortcodes makes product creation quick and easy, it has quite a few shortcomings. If you choose Cart66 as your ecommerce solution you will have to deal with the fact that prices and add-to-cart buttons will not be visible on product listings unless you alter The Loop (more on that in my already mentioned Quickshop review) or resort to tricks with custom fields in your theme.

Unlike Quickshop, shortcodes are also used to display all the indispensable for an ecommerce solution elements like – cart, checkout, receipt and even function clearing the cart after the purchase. It may be useful for some users letting them to e.g. “cut in” two shortcode-displayed elements with some text.

Setting and adding products

Using Cart66 we can sell downloadable and physical products as well as services. What needs to be noted is that Cart66 makes it also possible to – for example – sell t-shirts with custom text. Buyers can enter the text in additional fields in the cart, right next to the product.

Physical products can have two variations which can alter the their initial prices. We can set their weight and choose if they should be taxed. We can set shipping prices on per-product basis, individually for each product or based on the cart’s value. Unfortunately, I have found no way of setting discounts for individual items – we can only set coupons reducing the price of the cart by some a fixed percentage or amount.

Cart and Checkout

There is not much that can be said about the cart in Cart66 Lite – it is very basic. Even product thumbnails are nowhere to be found.

After confirming our cart’s content we move to a one-page checkout. This is the place where the tax is applied to our purchase, we can choose payment method (Paypal Standard or Express) and fill in our shipping address. Unfortunately, the number of fields in the form cannot be changed which can be painful if we are not selling in the US/Canada and need other, specific fields. What is more, the content of fields is not validated. This is the billing and shipping data accepted by the system:

Cart66 Lite - checkout form data validation

It goes without saying that lack of form validation can result in problems with taking orders and shipping.

Another thing that I would gladly welcome in Checkout is a simple “agree to the terms of purchase” checkbox with a link to the actual text.

After the purchase

Information about purchases can be viewed in a special section in the admin panel. A nice little feature here is the ability to decide about what steps are displayed there.

Cart 66 - setting order status

Unfortunately, because of inability to keep inventory data – reserved to Pro version – this plugin won’t be of much use in shops with many physical products. Also, users won’t be able to view their purchase history or modify them – user accounts are unavailable in “Lite” version.

Customisation and localisation

The way Cart66 Lite looks can be changed using simple CSS styles. If we want to accentuate certain products we can assign to them different images of add-to-cart buttons.

I haven’t found a working solution on how to translate the plugin to different languages. Of course, directly changing php files can do the trick but only until the first plugin update which will overwrite our changes.

Conclusion

Cart66 Lite is in many ways similar to previously reviewed Quickshop and wins in direct comparison. Nevertheless, I can recommend it only to small time merchandisers dealing in the US or Canada. It is not a good solution for retail sellers from other than the above-mentioned countries or ones selling more than few, unique items (no storage data). I might risk here even suggesting a different plugin that I reviewed – EShop. Even though my review is also not favorable it is simply better and definitely more feature-rich. The development also seems to be going in the right direction.

  • http://www.tannermooredesign.com Tmoore

    Thanks for this review – i’m always on the hunt for the best WP ecom solution. Currently i’ve used Shopp (http://shopplugin.net/) I’m or less happy with it though there are some annoying bugs and issues that persist. Have you worked with Shopp or any other plugins? Have you considered reviewing it?

    Thanks again,

    Tm.

    • Chris Planeta

      Hi Tanner,
      The next eshop solution I will be reviewing is Ecwid but don’t worry – Shopp will be also reviewed in the future:)

  • http://www.josh.biz Joshua

    Having gotten my fingers burnt with wp-ecommerce for the second time recently, this looked like a possible alternative but as concluded its very basic and geared towards the US. I design WordPress websites and have come to the conclusion that searching for a shopping cart for WordPress is like searching for the holy grail. It doesn’t (yet) exist. That’s a real shame but maybe it’s just pushing WordPress too far? Some say that using it as a CMS is a stretch already. But I would disagree…

    • Chris Planeta

      I’ve been looking for Holy Grails for my whole life:) Now, I’m trying to help you find one for WordPress eCommerce. After having tested 6 or 7 already I come to a conclusion that if there are none so far, there soon might be one that will rock our socks off. Constant development and adding features to WordPress are a big help. For the time being my personal favorite is TheCartPress, but I also like WooCommerce (review will be out by the end of the week) and there are soooo many more still waiting in line.

  • http://www.eakinsequipment.net Jeff Purnell

    Cart66 cannot process state sales tax with Paypal Website Payments Standard. Unfortunately Cart66 tech support blamed Paypal for not charging sales taxes, Paypal blamed Cart66 for not passing the information to them in order for them to charge sales tax. And I am stuck in the middle. Cart66 is clumsy for uloading new products and especially for product images. Images must be placed on a 500x500pixel background, centered, and skewed to the let else portions of the image will be chopped off when viewed. Cart66 works wonderfully with UPS API to get shipping charges.

    This is a good, inexpensive ecommerce system if you don’t need to charge sales tax.

  • http://www.koduleheoptimeerimine.ee/ Kodulehe

    Thanks for info. These Lite versions are always very lite. Its hard to find a good free e-shop for wordpress.

  • http://maisondehoa.com Charles Marriage

    Cart66-lite looked OK when I installed it 4 weeks ago, but on picking up the work again after a summer break, Cart66-lite reports an error (that the IPN and receipt page did not exist). These are supposed to be created by the software itself, and may have existed 4 weeks ago – who knows – but I havent moved them/deleted/slugged or whatever, and when I deleted the whole Cart66-lite installation and reinstalled the problem remained. As this sort of misbehaviour is not supposed to happen, any correction which may exist is not documented.

    Give up on Cart66-lite ? Yes I think I’ll have to.

  • http://ecommercecartplugindownload.wordpress.com/ cart66

    The way Cart66 En aning looks can be modified using simple CSS designs. If we want to emphasize certain items we can allocate to them different pictures of add-to-cart control buttons.

    Download at http://ecommercecartplugindownload.wordpress.com

    I have not discovered a operating remedy on how to convert the plug-in to different ‘languages’. Of course, straight modifying php information can do the key but only until the first plug-in upgrade which will overwrite our changes.