Mirakl vs. the CS-Cart Multi-Vendor
PHP multi vendor script

Review & Comparison 2018
Welcome aboard!
How come you have found yourself at the official site of CS-Cart Multi-Vendor?

"Did I follow the wrong link?" or "Did I press any CS-Cart related buttons? I was searching some information about Mirakl software!", you might have said. Keep options open!

If you are an entrepreneur, a retailer, a startuper, or an e-tailer, you will probably find this article very helpful for your business. I'd like a minute of your time. To be specific, approximately 20 minutes overall for a critical insight of your future virtual marketplace.

My article is dedicated to the review of both ecommerce software - Mirakl and CS-Cart Multi-Vendor - that is completely fair, as my aim was not to compare two products for creating an online shopping mall but to make a review of each of them.

Spoiler alert! Below you can find the structure of my review to familiarize yourself with things that we are going to discuss.
Content
Intro. Core difference
First of all, let me mention that the main difference between two ecommerce tools is that CS-Cart Multi-Vendor and Mirakl belong to the different types of the e-commerce software.

CS-Cart Multi-Vendor is a standalone licensed solution and Mirakl is a Software as a Service delivery model (SaaS) that enables seamless integration of a marketplace with an existing or embryonic website.

Every businessman needs to understand e-commerce software basics because main points help you to choose the proper solution for the project that is going to bring you money. That's the reason why I gathered the information concerning these two types of marketplace solutions for you below.
SaaS Solution
Merits
Demerits
No installation issues
As-is use only with no modification at all
No upgrade issues
Expensive for long-term projects (generally, it means monthly payments + transaction fee)
A store is hosted by the software developer
A store is hosted by the software developer.
Literally, you do not own your business
Conclusion: SaaS software is a good solution for those who need a store managed by a third-party side with no possibility for any modification. All your project, in fact, will belong to the developers of SaaS software and once you stop paying monthly fees, you will lose your business.
Standalone Licensed Solution
Merits
Demerits
High-security level (a licensing solution will enable you to deny access to your applications for anyone who is not entitled to access your application)
Launching expenses are higher than for hosted solutions
Highly customizable (due to access to the open source code)
Less expensive in the long run (you pay for ecommerce marketplace software only once)
The code is clearer than in free open source solutions and web store plugins
Conclusion: If compare with hosted solutions, licensed ones are less expensive in the long run conditions. It is also known for more clear code, security, a wide range of functionalities, and flexibilities. These points make license multi-vendor solutions are suitable for all type and size if business.
In a nutshell: The Who, The When, The Where, The How
Before we start to review features and core points of both software solutions, kindly let me sum up briefly the general info about two ecommerce platforms.
marketplace solutions
MIRAKL
CS.CART
Who Uses This Software
Small and Midsize Business (SMB),
Large Enterprises
Any size of any business
Foundation Year
2012
2005
About Company
Mirakl is an online marketplace that allows retailers to sell products to customers through API and personalized web pages
CS-Cart Multi-Vendor is a standalone e-commerce script that allows you to create an online marketplace.
Starting Price
Not reported at the official site
(according to the answer of the specialist of Mirakl, the price for the first year starts from $493,000 !!!)
$1,450 for the license
Free Open Demo
No open demo for testing software
Yes
There are 2 options for testing Multi-Vendor:- 15-day demo- 30-day trial version
Feature List
No
Yes
The description of all add-ons can be found in the documentation
As you can see, CS-Cart Multi-Vendor has a rich company's history, operating on the market from 2005. It suits any type of business, has open demos to test ecommerce marketplace software, and has the starting price equaled the cost of the license.

As for Mirakl, it only operates since 2012. Its website is very limited - no prices (apr $493,000 per year), no open demo, no guides or feature lists, no marketplace with the software extensions.
Programing Language
One of the important factors of any technical product is its core and what it consists of. This is exactly what we are going to discuss further

Mirakl is built on modular service-oriented architecture. It offers the ability to add a marketplace to any existing e-commerce site. Mirakl is a back office solution only. For a functioning e-commerce, you will need a frontend (webshop) such as IBM, Magento, Hybris or other. Mirakl connects to these frontends.

Speaking about CS-Cart Multi-Vendor, its scripting is PHP + JS + Smarty/Twig. The database is MySQL, soon it will be PostgreSQL.
Ease of Use

When I started to make a review of both best online marketplace software platforms, the most desired point for me was the Ease of Use one. I wanted to see how it's like to use the completely new software for the first time.

However, I was upset when I found out that it is impossible to test Mirakl software. There is no open demo at the Mirakl's official site. Also, the representative of Mirakl requested the mentioned above budget ($493,000) to arrange a demo session.

Even the simple list of features is absent at the official site of Mirakl.
Success Stories

Both CS-Cart Multi-Vendor and Mirakl have a wide range of live online marketplaces.

Let's start with the online marketplace script from CS-Cart. Currently, there are 36 successful examples at Success Stories webpage on the official site:
online shopping mall
Please refer to the link to see all Success Stories of CS-Cart Multi-Vendor:
https://www.cs-cart.com/multi-vendor-success-stories.html

Also, CS-Cart team has gathered video-reviews from customers which are dedicated to using CS-Cart Multi-Vendor. I suggest looking at them to have a clear idea of what people think of one of the best online marketplace software designed by CS-Cart:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwNSdQKT4bWe0_bFG3I0DEVahVs2RqRlt

I guess the most famous among them is the Indian marketplace ShopClues that has more than 53 000 000 products and thousands of vendors.
e shopping mall
Icing on the cake, you can get the personal examples of Internet marketplaces based on CS-Cart Multi-Vendor filling out the following form.
Mirakl's customers are primarily retailers, pure-players, and media groups such as Galeries Lafayette, RueDuCommerce, Darty, Mistergooddeal, Best Buy Canada, Auchan, El Corte Inglés, ePrice, Nature et Découvertes, Halfords, Natalys, Truffaut, Medicanimal, Menlook, Game, Macway, LabelPark or The Beautyst or Alltricks.
ecommerce marketplace software
Among them, there are a lot of world famous marketplaces, for example, Auchan, Walmart, Metro, Swarovski, and others.

Please refer to the link to see all Success Stories of Mirakl:
https://www.mirakl.com/mirakl-clients/

However, this is the key difference between CS-Cart Multi-Vendor and Mirakl software. Mirakl offers its services only for the promoted brands and companies with a very large budget. The CS-Cart Multi-Vendor script, in the opposite, is designed for any type and size of business.
Core Functionalities

We came to the point that I wanted to describe the most. However, as I have mentioned earlier, Mirakl did not give me an access to a free demo version, and it's a bit unfair to describe only a CS-Cart Multi-Vendor.

I tried to describe functions of the two ecommerce platforms mentioned on the Internet and using all documentation of marketplace solutions that I had.

CS-Cart Multi-Vendor has more than 500 features that allow you to sell and successfully run your e shopping mall. The description of all built-in add-ons you can see on the documentation:
https://docs.cs-cart.com/4.7.x/user_guide/addons/index.html

As I have got the answer from the official representative of Mirakl concerning the list of features, most of the required features already exist in Mirakl. There is no possibility to program within Mirakl. Their programmers can create new features if they see a need among several of our customers. All of their customers will benefit from these new features (or updates) in future.

Not a bright outlook at all.

Below you can find a table of features that Mirakl and CS-Cart Multi-Vendor have by default out-of-the-box (according to the official sites of CMS analytics):
CS-Cart Multi-Vendor
Mirakl
Catalog Management
Customer Accounts
Email Marketing
Inventory Management
Loyalty Program
Multi-Store Management
Promotions Management
Returns Management
SEO Management
Shopping Cart
Content Import / Export
Drag & Drop
Real-Time Editing
Templates
As you can see, it is approximately the same for both multi vendor platforms. However, please note that officially there are no any lists of features of Mirakl software so it is only information on the Internet. Nowadays, you can not completely trust the Internet.

Draw your own conclusions.
Expansion Capacity

Once you launch a successful online shopping mall project and start getting a big profit from it, you probably would think "What if I extend some functionalities of my current marketplace? Will this bring me more clients and money?"

And it is a really good question indeed! Every businessman needs to ask themselves about future expansion capacity of their business.

CS-Cart Multi-Vendor has an access to the open source code, it means that you or any third company can make any modifications that your project requires. It is quite convenient, especially if you have a technical person on your team. However, if you do not have any, CS-Cart Multi-Vendor has a wide range of partners who will make any modification for your project.

As for Mirakl, the official representative claims, that most of the required features already exist in Mirakl. There is no possibility to customize within Mirakl. Their programmers can create new features if they see a need among several of their customers. All of the customers will benefit from these new features (or updates).

It is rather inconvenient for customers to depend on someone's opinion if you need some special features at your online shopping mall. It is your marketplace, why anyone should decide whether you need this feature or not.

What if you need a super unique feature that other people do not share an opinion to have it? CS-Cart Multi-Vendor will allow you to implement this feature at your marketplace, Mirakl won't.
High-Speed Response

Speaking about the high-sheep response, the CS-Cart Multi-Vendor script and Mirakl showed different results in Google Page Speed test. To my surprise, Mirakl has showed not a good result.

I have checked one popular virtual marketplace from each marketplace solutions to show you some pages for speed response.
As you can see, the most popular retail marketplace Walmart has shown the third-rate speed response comparing to CS-Cart Multi-Vendor Home of Artisans.

Also, ecommerce marketplace software from CS-Cart works perfectly well with up to 1,000,000 products. If you plan to have more than 1,000,000 items, it may require some extra optimization. In case, you need to optimize your e shopping mall, you can do it by yourself using the documentation on "How To: Increase the Performance of Your Store":
http://docs.cs-cart.com/4.6.x/install/useful_info/increase_performance.html

Mirakl does not provide any documentation on increasing your site performance. Probably, this is due to the fact that Mirakl is a SaaS solution and you can not make any modification at your site by yourself. If I am not mistaken, in this case, you need to contact the developers of the platform.
Responsive Themes & Mobile App for Customers

As we have already driven through the speed of a site, I suggest looking at another jacket of a marketplace - responsive design and mobile app for customers.

Both CS-Cart Multi-Vendor and Mirakl have a built-in responsive theme that adapts any template to a user's device. It means that your customers could use any device they want to buy from your marketplace.

In order to substantiate my statement, I enquired with the official Google Search site to test the site's adaptability for mobile devices. Kindly have a look at the results of the optimization check of both software on two examples of marketplaces from both platforms as we have discussed above:
Home of Artisans (CS-Cart Multi-Vendor)
mobile marketplace platform
Walmart (Mirakl)
marketplace mobile
CS-Cart Multi-Vendor has released a mobile app for customers for Android and iOS. The app uses the same data as your marketplace: categories, products, users, carts, wish lists, orders, and more. As you change them in the Multi-Vendor admin panel, the changes affect the app. Сustomers just browse categories and add products to wish lists or carts. Then they can choose an offline payment method or PayPal Express Checkout.

Please have a look at our Mobile landing page to get more details:
https://www.cs-cart.com/multivendor-mobile-application.html

Mirakl does not have a mobile app for customers. Mirakl is a back-office solution. The (product) information provided via Mirakl can be displayed anywhere (desktop or mobile).
Design & Themes

It's perfectly clear to everyone that people love with eyes. That's why it is highly important to have a unique design at your virtual marketplace that is able to stop a clock. Let's see what our marketplace solutions - CS-Cart Multi-Vendor and Mirakl - can boast of at this point of my review.

Themes


CS-Cart Multi-Vendor has a built-in theme and 9 styles that allow you to customize the look of your marketplace the way you want.
All settings can be done from the Admin Panel of the PHP multi vendor script offered by CS-Cart:
multi vendor marketplace theme
Design Tools

CS-Cart Multi-Vendor has a Template editor and a Layout editor. The latter is a unique feature that allows creating individual layouts of a page by simple block adding.

With Layout editor, it is possible to edit the layout of every page, including a vendor's mini-store. You can easily drag and move blocks around, create new blocks, banners, menus, etc.
multi vendor theme
Playing with a code

If your Internet marketplace requires the unique design that is chalk and cheese, CS-Cart Multi-Vendor has an access to the open source code. It means that you or any other technical persons can make any design needed for your project.

Additional design tools (Themes on the Marketplace)

Everybody knows that sometimes we are all lazybones. We see that ecommerce marketplace software offers a wide range of design tools, but we need to set up all by clicking one button. Do you know that feeling?

CS-Cart Multi-Vendor has a Marketplace where partner-developers offer various themes at the Marketplace. All you need to do is just install a theme to your online shopping mall and Bammo! Your marketplace has been given a new look.

You can see available themes on the Marketplace:
http://marketplace.cs-cart.com/themes.html
multi vendor ecommerce theme
Probably, you will ask me, "Kate, why have you reviewed the Design & Themes section for CS-Cart Multi-Vendor only?" The answer is simple because there is no possibility to program within Mirakl.

You can not set your own design at your own e shopping mall. All settings will make developers of Mirakl. On one hand, it is convenient for really busy people to have all done by a third-party side. However, ask yourself "who owns your business after all?"

CS-Cart Multi-Vendor offers you, at least, 4 ways to set a design at your marketplace. Mirakl allows you just to observe possibilities of what developers of software can offer you.

Updates & Upgrades
I guess this is the most favorite point for any reformist out there.

Changes. Updates. Upgrades.

I can't help but agree that updates are a very important part of any IT-product. Especially, for a platform that is expected to bring you a lot of money.

CS-Cart Multi-Vendor
can boast minor changes approximately once in a month and major ones approximately 1-2 times in 3 months. The cost for updates is the additional fee. However, it is not mandatory. You as an online shopping mall owner will decide whether update your web store or not.

Upgrade policy is available through the link:
https://www.cs-cart.com/upgrade-policy.html

All Mirakl updates are included in the contract - there is at least one major release each quarter. However, we still do not have any information about the cost of Mirakl software, upgrades, customization, and other stuff.

Community & Partners
The more people know the more they share.

Communities suppose the brand awareness and, as consequence, the product development. Having partners around the world means the implementation your international project. Imagine the presence of your representative in every country of the world to sell your ecommerce marketplace software and make any modification. Not bad, huh?

Both marketplace solutions has a strong Partner Program which is really good. CS-Cart Multi-Vendor and Mirakl offer clients unparalleled expertise from a team of business, technical, and operational marketplace experts.

This program will ensure your success and the success of your clients.

However, I would like to note that indeed CS-Cart Multi-Vendor has a really good instrument for the expansion capacity of clients' marketplace. This online marketplace script has its own Marketplace where partners-developers present useful add-ons for additional fees.

Add-ons are much easier to manage than playing with a code. You can filter them and find what you need for your project requirements.
marketplace website features
CS-Cart Multi-Vendor customers can use their Marketplace to find the required addon before going to partners and making modifications in the code.

Unfortunately, Mirakl customers are deprived of this very instrument. It's a pity.

Tutorials
Once you have chosen a platform on which you would build your e shopping mall, the main question is "How to work with that?"

It is not infrequent that every technical product is provided with an instruction manual. Of course, businessmen do not need to have technical skills but salesmanship ones.

Having detailed instructions, video-tutorials and documentation are the must need for any technical product.

First of all, CS-Cart Multi-Vendor has a detailed User Guide with very precise information concerning features and modules at the platform. It has a very convenient search bar to look for a particular article.
online shopping mall documentation
Another powerful tool at CS-Cart Multi-Vendor is Video Tutorials. They are short and very informative. They will learn you not only how to set up each function at CS-Cart Multi-Vendor ecommerce marketplace software but also explain to you why this function is needed for.
marketplace video tutorials
It is not surprising that Mirakl does not have any User Guide available to the public at all. It is a SaaS solution, so there is no possibility to make any changes by yourself. However, there are many analytic details, reports, and video webinars for clients about Mirakl company.
shopping mall video tutorials
Pricing
That is the final flourish of the whole review.

I do understand, it would be more logical to familiarize you with the price of both marketplace solutions first. However, I was afraid that the cost for multi vendor software would scare you (you will understand why), so I decided to start with the functionalities of both ecommerce software solutions.

The main question is: What is better - to rent a house or to have it? To own business or to lose it once you stop paying monthly fees?

The pricing policy for CS-Cart Multi-Vendor is more than clear. It consists of two parts: the cost of the license and upgrades fees that are not mandatory.

The cost for the CS-Cart Multi-Vendor license is 1,450 USD. It is a one-time payment. No monthly or yearly fees.

The Multi-Vendor license is lifetime. It means that you purchase Multi-Vendor only once and can use it without any time limits.

Besides, on purchasing the PHP multi vendor script from CS-Cart you will get 90 days of free technical support and 1-year of free updates for your online shopping mall.

After the free period is over, you as a marketplace owner will decide whether update your e shopping mall or not. Kindly note that upgrades fees are not mandatory.

The cost of 1-year updates for Multi-Vendor is $385. However, the price within 1 month upon termination will be $245.

Speaking about Mirakl, the situation is not much clear. There are no price lists at the official Mirakl site. So I contacted the Mirakl's representative to know price details. Here is his answer:

"I cannot give you a general price as our pricing model consists of a set-up fee covering the project period and a revenue share model. The amount depends on the gross merchandise volume run through Mirakl. Usually, the first year with Mirakl will cost about €400.000 - including integration'.
marketplace website features
Can you imagine that? $495,000 just for the first year of using Mirakl software! It is 340 times more than paying for a lifetime Multi-Vendor license.

I have made a simple diagram for you to visually see how much the cost of the two marketplace solutions is different.
Please have a look, it is interesting.
shopping cart price
I think I'm going off my rocker! For 10 years of existing of your business with Mirakl, you will spend 3,400 times (!!!) more than with CS-Cart Multi-Vendor.

As statistics show*, a small business starts to bring a stable income only after 1 year of existence, and a profit after 3 years.
_______
*more details can be found in the following articles as references:


"50% (or However Many) of Small Businesses Fail"

For this purpose, I made some simple calculations, before starting to get any profit from your business for the next 3 years you need to spend about $1,485,000 of your budget with Mirakl software, and $1,450 with CS-Cart Multi-Vendor.

And still, after the 3-year period is over, you start getting a profit from your online shopping mall with Mirakl, you do not own your business, developers of Mirakl do. With CS-Cart Multi-Vendor, your business will be all yours.

Conclusion

To sum it all up, when you choose a shopping cart for creating a marketplace, you need to consider the following points:

  • Who will own your business?
On purchasing a CS-Cart Multi-Vendor license, it will be all yours with no time limits. Meanwhile, Mirakl will have your business, and you will lose it once you stop paying the fees.

  • How many features the software has out-of-the-box?
As we have seen, CS-Cart Multi-Vendor has more than 500 features out-of-the-box. It is difficult to talk about Mirakl as there are no any lists of features available for customers.

  • How much will it cost to run and manage a successful online business?
CS-Cart Multi-Vendor costs $1,450 USD for lifetime. Mirakl needs about $495,00 every year to be paid for running a business.
CS-Cart Multi-Vendor allows you to make any modification at your e shopping mall, integrate any application, or payment gateways, or any other system you need, to play with a design and so on. Mirakl does not.

Objectively, Mirakl software is intended only for a certain circle of persons who have the largest budget for their business. CS-Cart Multi-Vendor covers all types of business, regardless of who you are - a startuper, an entrepreneur or a large retail company.

CS-Cart Multi-Vendor has both - local markets for family business, for example, Yumbles, and a huge shopping mall at the type of Indian market Shopclues.
marketplace support
by Ekaterina Buyankina CS-Cart Sales Specialist
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