Dokan plugin for WordPress vs. one of the best multi vendor ecommerce platforms - CS-Cart Multi-Vendor: Review & Comparison 2018

The persistent idea to create their own online shopping mall visits people's heads in the last few years. You bet! Many entrepreneurs want to take a bite of this big pie: the opportunity to manage the big marketplace where people can buy almost everything they need. The success of Amazon, eBay, Etsy and many others shows the great viability of this kind of eCommerce.
Hi! My name is Alex.
In this article, I want to compare two ecommerce solutions for starting and managing an online marketplace. My purpose is for you to see which platform is more suitable to your demands.

Alex Makaev
CS-Cart Partner Relationship Specialist

1. General: Key differences in software types

So, if you are here, I suppose you know something about online marketplaces and have some ideas of how they work. The most important thing is in the difference between software types.


CS-Cart Multi-Vendor is licensed shopping cart software. Here are pros and cons of licensed shopping cart solutions.
High security level due to code integrity and constant improvement, so the customers' data and money are safe.
Launching expenses are higher than for other multi vendor ecommerce platforms because you have to pay for a lifetime license.
Customizable thanks to open access to the source code.
As a rule, paid technical support service and upgrades.
As a rule, the code is clearer than in free open source solutions and web store plugins.
Dokan is a plugin based on WooCommerce, working on WordPress. Here are pros and cons of "WordPress+plugin" solutions.
E-commerce functionality is easily added as a plugin to your WordPress site.
This type of software is initially created for running a site, not a web store with all that it implies, functionality limitation in the first place.
    Minimal effort for installation and setup.
    Possibly low security level because each plugin or addon to CMS can make breaches in code.
    The free version offers basic functionality for running a simple web store.
    Limited stability and performance capability with high traffic.
    It's not just my humble opinion, here you can read more information about it.

    2. Origin, geography, and the number of stores

    The popularity of an e-commerce solution is a significant index to its viability. A widely-used product won't disappear from the market all of a sudden. The very first license of CS-Cart was purchased in August 2005, so the history of CS-Cart has 13 years of development and improvement. Then, in November 2010 CS-Cart Multi-Vendor was released as a standalone solution for creating online marketplaces.

    CS-Cart has more than 35,000 shops all around the globe and about 1,300 of them are marketplaces on CS-Cart Multi-Vendor. You can see the geography of CS-Cart on builtwith.com.
    virtual malls
    As you can see, many entrepreneurs in the USA have chosen CS-Cart or CS-Cart Multi-Vendor for their projects. But there are only verified business locations.

    Dokan was released in March 2014 as a theme for WooCommerce and as a plugin for WordPress in September 2014. The developer team, weDevs, is located in Bangladesh.

    Unfortunately, Dokan is not recognized by builtwith.com as a standalone platform - Dokan based marketplaces are shown as WooCommerce shops. But according to information on developers website, it has more than 8000 active installations.


    However, there are no facts to testify that. The developer said that he can't reveal clients personal data. So, I couldn't find too much of online marketplaces based on Dokan.

    multi vendor support
    Dokan has 4 translations: English, Catalan, Chinese (Taiwan), and Dutch. Thus, firstly Dokan is used in countries where these languages are spoken.

    By the way, both of these marketplace platforms are based on PHP. It's good, because about 80% of platforms are PHP based, so no problems with looking for developer or support team in both cases.

    3. Top marketplaces on each platform

    CS-Cart Multi-Vendor
    http://www.shopclues.com/ - the example of scalability of CS-Cart Multi-Vendor platform. This marketplace has more than 53,000,000 SKUs and can maintain thousands of users on the website at the same time. Amazon Alexa local rank is about 175.

    http://keepamerica.com/ - the marketplace of products made in the USA.

    https://www.yumbles.com/ - this marketplace unite top independent UK producers of hand-made food
    On our website, you may find more examples, such as www.mode.co.nz, www.countryculture.com.au, forktofork.org.au and many others.
    Dokan
    https://www.mymuslimmall.com/ - an online marketplace of Muslim goods

    https://playthemove.com/ - an online marketplace of paintings, sculptures, other art objects and also apparel

    https://oodlique.com/ - an online marketplace of handmade gifts for different occasions.
    Unfortunately, I've found only these three examples on developers website and all of them have poor Amazon Alexa rank. I asked the developer where could I see more examples, but he answered he can't provide me more examples because he doesn't have permission to do it from shop owners. The developer gave me just one more example - https://www.mygypsystore.com/.

    Also, the developer says that they have 5000+ users of the "Pro" version. So let's consider this version as the most popular version of Dokan. We will compare this exact version to the CS-Cart marketplace website builder.

    4. Ease of use

    CS-Cart Multi-Vendor has an intuitive and user-friendly admin panel. Let's take a closer look.
    mall management software
    The home page of admin panel contains menus and statistics. Dokan uses WordPress admin panel to operate, so if you are familiar with it, there won't be a problem for you.
    shopping mall management system
    To be more objective, I'll quote a few CS-Cart and Dokan reviews from respected observers.

    CS-Cart Multi-Vendor
    Powerful dashboard: The administrator dashboard comes with the powerful options to make quick decisions
    ...the admin panel is very user-friendly and does not require programming skills for the initial setup or ongoing management.
    Dokan plugin
    Each vendor has their separate dashboard where they take control of their products and other settings, which makes the job easier for the administrator....the admin panel is very user-friendly and does not require programming skills for the initial setup or ongoing management.
    Thus, both of multi vendor software solutions have convenient admin panel with separate dashboards for each vendor. So I suggest you test them by yourself.

    5. Installation process

    To install CS-Cart Multi-Vendor first you need to download the package. You can install the ecommerce software on hosting or your local computer for testing. There are video tutorials and documentation to help you installing Multi-Vendor.

    Briefly, you need to upload the package to the server, unpack it to a necessary folder, proceed to your domain and click "Install". After that, there will be some settings to be marked and that's it, your CS-Cart Multi-Vendor platform is ready for work.

    By the way, you can ask the seller to install CS-Cart Multi-Vendor on hosting for you to test it. And there is nice little thing that he will do it for free.

    The installation of Dokan is not so difficult because it's a plugin for WordPress. So firstly you download and install WordPress on hosting. I didn't manage to find any video tutorial for installing WordPress, but there is a text guide for installing WordPress on the website.

    Some hosting providers maintain one-click installation of WordPress from their dashboard. If you use this kind of hosting, the WordPress installation will take less than 5 minutes. You need to choose the option on your hosting dashboard for it.

    After installing WordPress you have to proceed to admin panel and install Dokan plugin, which you've downloaded earlier. Also, you need to install WooCommerce, because Dokan doesn't work without it. By the way, both of WooCommerce and Dokan are available to install from WordPress admin panel as add-ons.

    6. Key features and functionality of each marketplace platform

    To structurize this section, I'll divide it into 2 parts: the functionality table and a detailed description of each multi vendor feature.
    Admin features

    Vendor Payout System
    CS-Cart and Dokan use PayPal Adaptive Payments functionality and it's good. Automatic payouts to vendors save 90% of store administrator time.
    multiple vendor
    Also, there is an opportunity to use Stripe Connect Payments. Available in CS-Cart Multi-Vendor and Dokan from Professional version.
    Configurable Vendor Plans
    CS-Cart Multi-Vendor and Dokan (from Professional version) have this functionality, so you can earn extra with vendor monthly payments.
    CS-Cart Multi-Vendor:

    Dokan:
    In Dokan, you can only specify cost, amount of products, period, admin commission, and vendor category. CS-Cart Multi-Vendor in addition to these features allows you to specify vendor max revenue and set if a vendor can use his own micro-store with a separate address like "yourstore.com/vendorname" where are the products from this vendor only.

    Also, the search in only vendors store is available in this case. Oh, and you can set different transaction fees for each vendor plan in CS-Cart Multi-Vendor. With Dokan, you have to set transaction fees manually for each vendor.
    Advanced Order Management System
    When the customers order goods from different vendors it's the one order for him and separate orders for vendors and administrator. It's very comfortable. Available on both online shopping platforms.
    Multiple languages
    You won't be bound by language limitations. You can start selling worldwide. CS-Cart Multi-Vendor has 26 languages, Dokan plugin has 4.
    Comments and reviews
    Customer reviews help vendors earn good image, because the opportunities to approve, decline, and edit reviews and comments are in admin's hands only in multi vendor marketplace open source software from CS-Cart. Available on Dokan plugin (Pro version) also, but some actions with comments such as deleting, marking as spam are in vendor's hands for no reason.
    Multiple levels of administrative access
    Running a big Internet store is much easier when you delegate duties to the staff members. CS-Cart Multi-Vendor gives you an opportunity to fine-tune the access level for your staff. Just look at the screenshot: .
    multi vendor network management
    Dokan has this feature too, but you can't distribute privileges by yourself, only choose role:
    Built-in layout editor
    Did you know that you can change your web store design with no expenses by yourself? Multi-Vendor marketplace website builder includes a built-in layout editor, a powerful tool for customizing the look and feel of your online marketplace.

    It allows you to arrange data blocks on every single page of your storefront by simple drag & drop without hiring technical experts.
    features of shopping mall
    Dokan plugin doesn't provide this feature.
    On-site content editing
    You can update the content on your virtual marketplace in a visual mode with CS-Cart Multi-Vendor. You can see the storefront with all the editable interface elements. It is possible to navigate through the interface just as if you were using the regular mode.
    vendor shop
    This feature is not available on Dokan.
    Vendor features
    Separate Vendor Panel
    The key functionality for a vendor. Of course, it's available on both online platforms.
    CS-Cart Multi-Vendor provides vendor panel that has the interface of admin panel with only vendor functionality:
    marketplace vendors
    Dokan provides vendor panel based on storefront account panel:
    e commerce vendors
    By the way, CS-Cart Multi-Vendor allows a vendor to create their own pages, polls, forms, and links. Dokan plugin doesn't.
    Separate store for each vendor
    Sellers can have a micro-store right inside your web marketplace. The micro store URL contains the vendor company name. Vendors can share it to attract customers to your marketplace. Both products have this functionality, but CS-Cart Multi-Vendor allows you to disable this feature in vendor plan.
    Import and export
    CS-Cart Multi-Vendor allows vendors to import orders and products from their online shop. Or on the contrary, maybe they need to export. It's possible with CS-Cart Multi-Vendor. Dokan also has this feature in in Business ($499) and Enterprise ($999) versions.
    Multiple levels of administrative access for vendors
    This functionality for marketplace administration works for vendors too on CS-Cart Multi-Vendor. And it allows making any amount of different levels for vendor shop administration as well. Dokan plugin has the similar functionality in Business ($499) and Enterprise ($999) versions but you can only choose between "vendor" and "vendor staff".
    Multiple languages
    As for administrator, it is also fairly for vendors. They can attract buyers from other countries. The marketplace website builder from CS-Cart has 26 translations and it's not the machine text, it's community-driven translation made by native speakers. Dokan still supports only 4 translations.
    Comments and Reviews
    As I mentioned in "admin panel" part those are very crucial to the business. CS-Cart Multi-Vendor offers the feedback and review system with an interactive star rating. Customers can comment and rate vendors, products, categories, and orders.

    Dokan plugin allows vendors to do actions like deleting or marking as spam with comments. So there is a risk of deleting negative reviews by vendor and his rating would be biased.
    Bulk product editing
    Very useful feature when you have many products. Both of marketplace platforms do have this one, but CS-Cart Multi-Vendor allows to do so with 45 parameters at the same time. And also, which is very important, it allows editing metadata and SEO. Unfortunately, Dokan doesn't allow to do that but also has an opportunity of bulk editing with 16 parameters.
    Call requests
    You don't have to lose clients who don't want to fill their personal data. They will appreciate if a vendor has "buy in 1 click" button. CS-Cart Multi-Vendor provides this feature. Dokan doesn't.
    Multiple product page templates
    Why is this important? Because different types of products may need different types of composition. For example, the vendor who sells complex products such as computer parts will choose the template with small pictures but a large description. And vice versa the other vendor with products that are small, for example, watch, will choose the product page with large images.
    CS-Cart Multi-Vendor gives you this feature. Dokan doesn't.

    7. Scalability

    Just a few words here. I've already told you about shopclues.com. This multi vendor ecommerce website has more than 53.000.000 SKUs, more than 500.000 vendors from more than 30.000 locations. Isn't it a good example of scalability?
    The marketplace playthemove.com working on Dokan plugin marketplace shows good results in the number of products - about 100.000 SKUs. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to find out how many vendors there are.

    Speaking of performance, CS-Cart developers made a high load demo, which contains 200.000 SKUs. Just check it out.

    8. Speed and performance

    Search engines give search results according to many factors nowadays. One of them is page speed. The bigger it is the higher your website on the list. This means more leads, more income.
    It's hard to measure page speed and performance of the marketplace software objectively because it strongly depends on hosting capacity and content optimization. If we compare a few shops on each e-commerce platform with Google PageSpeed tool, we will see that the results are contradictory: some web shops on CS-Cart Multi-Vendor show great page speed, others are not so good in it. The same is about Dokan.

    We can compare demos of each platform.
    CS-Cart Multi-Vendor:
    Dokan:
    The Dokan's result on the desktop is not satisfactory. Maybe it's because of not optimized content on the demo.

    By the way, let's test the CS-Cart high load demo I've mentioned before:
    Very impressive result! It shows the capabilities of CS-Cart Multi-Vendor platform and it's up to you to make your virtual shop be in the green zone.

    9. Mobile friendly

    With half of the smartphone owners saying they use them for shopping you can't ignore them. By the way, Google search boosts mobile-friendly pages. Your store must look good on any device, not only desktop.
    With the СS-Cart marketplace website builder you don't need a special template for page mobile view. It gives you full scalable design out of the box which provides great appearance on any screen.

    I couldn't manage to find information about mobile friendliness on Dokan. However, 2 of 3 shop examples are mobile friendly. Probably it depends on a theme used in store. Dokan supports any of WooCommerce theme by the way.

    None of our contestants have a mobile app for customers and it's not good. However, the mobile app for CS-Cart Multi-Vendor is in development and will be released soon.

    10. Updates

    CS-Cart Multi-Vendor usually has 4-6 updates annually. The update always contains new features and security improvement if needed.

    You can update your virtual store on CS-Cart Multi-Vendor through the admin panel. Make a backup before update. Just in case. Also, you can check the update on the test installation, which is allowed according to a license agreement.

    Dokan plugin had 6 updates for the last 2,5 months. It's not that bad - some issues are being fixed, new features are being added. But just imagine how many times you have to backup and check the update on test installation to have your marketplace version up-to-date.

    11. Technical support

    CS-Cart Multi-Vendor provides 3 months of free technical support after purchase the license. In practice, it's enough period for launching your marketplace and start to engage vendors. During this time you will solve most of the tasks with your store with help of support.

    CS-Cart marketplace platform support is based on the ticket system. You ask a question in your HelpDesk account and the technical support solves your problem.

    If it won't be enough for you there is an opportunity to buy support credits for having qualified technical support. Here you will know more about it. By the way, if there will be a software bug technical support won't charge you and fix it for free. And it's very rare case.

    Dokan support is also ticket based and lasts for 1 year. For the users of Enterprise version ($999 per year) the live chat with support is available. The developer claims that in that case, the support is a priority.

    Unfortunately, I've found so many comments on several sites where people say that technical support of Dokan is not so fast as expected and sometimes doesn't help at all.

    Yes, it's always a bunch of people who complain in any case, but those comments were on plenty of sites dedicated to e-commerce.

    For example, the comments on Dokan review on wpmayor.com:
    Just to be honest, there are negative comments on CS-Cart technical support also, but not many.

    12. Partners, community, tutorials

    CS-Cart Multi-Vendor platform has 300+ partners and resellers worldwide, so as a rule there is no problem to choose one in your country if you need any e-commerce software modification or expect qualified technical support personally.

    Speaking of Dokan, I've found 2 partners mentioned on their website. But if I got it right, you may ask the developer himself for any modifications. He told me this in his email.

    The product community may affect further product development. And in case with CS-Cart Multi-Vendor, it is really like this. For the online marketplace owners, there is an opportunity to vote for the required functionality on the UserVoice portal.

    By the way, instead of writing a ticket to technical support you can ask your question on the forum if you're having any issue with CS-Cart Multi-Vendor.

    Besides, there are YouTube Channel, Facebook and Twitter accounts of CS-Cart. Also, you can read the blog.

    Unfortunately, I didn't find on Dokan website any sign of something that looks like the forum where users can discuss their issues. The only place is WordPress official website I guess.

    Now let's talk about the situation when you know nothing about how to create, open and manage your web marketplace. In this case, you have two ways.

    The first way is to order turnkey project from one of CS-Cart partners, so all issues with development, design and start they take upon themselves.

    The second way for you to do those things by yourself. And in this situation, the more informative and useful the tutorial is, the more successful and fast your start will be.

    CS-Cart Multi-Vendor has user guide with more than 400 articles explaining all features of the software. Also, Core API documentation and Developer guide are available.

    And there are video tutorials. 60 lessons concerning to CS-Cart marketplace software and 10 extra for CS-Cart Multi-Vendor. All of them are informative and useful for a Multi-Vendor user.

    Dokan has user documentation with 90+ articles and it's quite useful. Also, don't forget about WordPress documentation on the official site.

    13. Marketplace

    As I mentioned before CS-Cart Multi-Vendor has 300+ developer companies. So they provide any service concerning to the multi vendor ecommerce platform from CS-Cart. But also they make modifications which are on sale as add-ons.

    Customer experience, site management, marketing, integrations, themes. Plenty of powerful modules that make your store on CS-Cart Multi-Vendor more competitive and successful you may find on Marketplace.
    features of multiple shop
    Dokan doesn't have a marketplace. There is a page on the site with the list of additional modules. Almost all of them are available in mentioned versions and aren't sold separately.

    So, properly speaking Dokan has 2 add-ons which you can buy: booking module and auction module. They are highly specific.
    marketplace website features

    14. Cost

    CS-Cart Multi-Vendor costs $1450
    licensed shopping mall software
    There is 30-day free trial on CS-Cart Multi-Vendor. The functionality is unlimited, and you can check all features during this period. After 30 days the access to the admin panel will be blocked until you enter the license key. That means you can save this trial installation for you real Internet store.

    30 days of free trial is more than enough for the one who has a goal. But CS-Cart Multi-Vendor has even more - 30-day money back guarantee. You can have a full refund within 30 days after the purchase. No catch.

    After purchasing the license you will have 1 year of free updates. You can prolong the update plan after this free period and it will be $385 a year, and if you do it in a month after expiring the subscription it will be $245. But it's your decision to do it. Your web store will work even without updates.

    Also, don't forget about 90 days of qualified technical support with license purchase.

    As I mentioned before the most popular version among Dokan users is Professional ($249) according to information provided by the developer. It's much cheaper than CS-Cart Multi-Vendor. But the price is for one year. Of course, the expenses will catch up CS-Cart Multi-Vendor after 6 years only, but the difference in functionality is very significant.

    Book design is the art of incorporating the content, style, format, design, and sequence of the various components of a book into a coherent whole. In the words of Jan Tschichold, "methods and rules upon which it is impossible to improve, have been developed over centuries. To produce perfect books, these rules have to be brought back to life and applied."

    Front matter, or preliminaries, is the first section of a book, and is usually the smallest section in terms of the number of pages. Each page is counted, but no folio or page number is expressed, or printed, on either display pages or blank pages.
    shopping cart prices
    Dokan plugin also has a refund policy. You can have a money back within 14 days after the purchase. But only in case when you issued a serious problem and the technical support was unable to solve it.

    15. Conclusion

    If you are here this means you've read this text or you've just scrolled down here. In the first case, you already know the answer, which solution for marketplace suits you better. For the others, I'll write some reasonings.
    Dokan plugin is a good choice to start, when you don't have any experience, your budget is small, and you will be satisfied by a pretty small marketplace. You may start even for free.

    Unfortunately, scalability on WordPress is not that simple thing. So if your Dokan store becomes bigger you'll face issues concerning to modifications in speed performance or even choosing another software, which is painful.

    There is a problem with developers on Dokan platform. Only 2 partners except for Dokan developer himself are mentioned on the website. What if you'll need modification? With almost the lack of competition between partners and developer, the prices might be too high. Also, I've found too many negative comments about Dokan support.

    On the other side, there is CS-Cart Multi-Vendor. The product price of $1450 is higher than Dokans'. But the advantages that you get with one of the best multi vendor ecommerce platforms that CS-Cart offers can outweigh this.

    It's feature packed, so the most of users don't need to buy add-ons. But if they do, there is a marketplace with 300+ developers ready to offer their solutions to make CS-Cart Multi-Vendor more powerful.

    One of the most significant things is that it's very scalable, just look at shopclues.com.

    So if you are planning a long-lasting and durable project, CS-Cart Multi-Vendor is your choice. Don't believe me? Sign up for 15-day personal demo and make sure of it by yourself.
    By Alex Makaev
    CS-Cart Partner Relationship Specialist
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