Interspire Shopping Cart 5.5 Review

January 29th, 2010 by Chris

Interspire has gone through a couple interations of updates since I last reviewed them about 7 months ago (on 5.0). My original review can be read here: Interspire Review, and I wish to provide you with updates regarding the issues I encountered. If you didn’t read the original review, you should, I’m going to be referencing it a lot.

First let me say that Interspire has been fairly proactive in addressing the concerns raised by my original review.


They have changed their upgrade policy to allow you free upgrades for 1 year regardless of upgrade type (previously you had to pay for major upgrades) after one year you can renew at 50% the original cost of your licence.

This pricing scheme is more in line with other software vendors out there, and is an industry standard. While Interspire is still expensive compared to many other carts, their upgrade policy is now inline and shouldn’t be a source of complaints.

Installing, Upgrading, Importing

I’ve done more upgrades of the software since my original review, and all went off without a hitch, except the most recent one, which to fix I merely had to uninstall and reinstall my template (two clicks). They’ve also added more templates.

I am annoyed though at the lack of persistent data though some of the template changes. For instance, welcome text at the top of the homepage. I have to re-insert it every time I upgrade a template. It would not be that difficult to provide a field that persists through template changes for that sort of thing, or footer text, etc. In fact, stick them all over, they’re really simple to do. vBulletin finally caught on a few releases ago and stuck option advertisement templates all over the software so when upgrading you could have those templates persist and not have to redo all your advertising.

Order Summary

What I said previously:

Why is it so hard for some carts to provide a printable receipt after checkout? Honestly, Cubecart doesn’t, OScommerce doesn’t, what is the deal?

Interspire does not do it either when you select payment of check or money order (mail order form) they provide this sentence: “Mail a check or money order in US funds, along with a printed order summary, to:” But don’t actually provide the order summary. I guess you have to wait for the email and print it out? What if you don’t get it? Why not just put the order summary on that page?

When you pay with a credit card through Interspire provides a link for the order summary, but again, why not put the order summary on that page? There is a ton of whitespace on it, fill that space up!

The email summaries they send are nice, put that content on the page seen after checkout.

Still holds true. No fix there.

Categories & SEO

My issues with the category setup on the menu in regards to SEO and headings as mentioned in my first review are still there. I would like to be able to have more control over the category listing, perhaps giving prominent locations to products or categories I wish to promote more, I can’t. I would also like the ability to section off my menu.


They now allow more than 5 product images. I would still like a lightbox to display them on product pages instead of a popup. Popups are old technology, take longer to load, and can be blocked.

Product Variations

What can I say? They’re trying.

5.5 included a new product variation handling tool and other upgrades.

Firstly, they paginated the product variation screens. So it will no longer crash your browser from information overload if there are tens of thousands of form fields (very possible).

Secondly they implemented a bulk variation editor. This, unfortunately, is almost worthless. It is like they just don’t get it. Let me explain.

Their tool allows you to filter variations and then edit the cost. Suppose you sell engagement rings available in silver, gold, and platinum. Each ring can be sized from 5-15, and can include a .5, 1, or 2 carat diamond.

Their tool allows you to replace existing values, which is not very useful at all. Say you have the following prices:

Gold .5 carat = $500
Gold 1 carat = $1000
Gold 2 carat = $2000

So suppose you need to increase the cost of your gold jewelry because gold prices increase at the wholesale level. You use the filter to select “gold” and then select say “add $30″ and instead of adding $30 to each gold ring, it finds every ring option that involves “gold” and replaces the value of that combination to $30. So now, instead of having rings costing $530, $1030, and $2030, you have rings costing just $30. Oops!

The solution is to go back and select gold and .5 carat and input $530, then gold and 1 carat and input $1030 and so on. Doing each combination individually. Which begs the question, I thought this was supposed to save time?

It does save time, if you’re only dealing with combinations that do not affect the price. Like suppose there was no price change depending on ring size. Then you could do a gold price change for all ring sizes at once. But the second you add a second price-affecting variable, you screw the system up.

This is true whether you’re editing or doing the initial setup of your product variations.

The solution would be simple, create a toggle to indicate whether you want to increment or replace existing values. If you did so and selected “increment” it would still filter out all combinations involving “gold” and then instead of saying “cost = $x”, it would say “cost = $current_cost + $x.”

Otherwise, all that they’ve done is created a new way to do things one at a time, which defeats the purpose entirely.

Also, it is far too easy to destroy thousands of existing variations. With the system as is you can easily accidentially not set a filter then hit submit and zero out or otherwise change all of your carefully done, perhaps 100,000 total, product options. That sort of devastation demands a confirmation step. I would strongly recommend Interspire code in a simple “Are you sure?” check, it will save someone’s butt sometime.

Finally, there is still no display of prices next to product options on the actual product pages customers will see. Almost every other cart will display the options, why? Because customers don’t like having to play “guess the price.” There are a couple Interspire hacks and modifications that address this, but so far, no support from the actual company. It should be a really easy change too. Integration

I complained about their integration in my last review. They left out customer emails, they left out the entire block of shipping information, and they did not appropriately use the description field (to list the actual products sold, rather than just repeat the order# information).

They’ve fixed everything except the description field.


Still no support for dimensional weight with UPS.


They have added a monthly sales tax report, which was my main complaint.

Other bugs

They now allow you to use an SSL domain, but you can’t set it to be your same domain, perse. For instance many sites use as their catalog, but drop the “www” for their SSL domain, you can’t do that with Interspire. Not a huge deal, but there.

They have also fixed the annoyance of not letting you know your current version in the admin area.

Order Management

Order management has gotten better, customer messaging is now included in all versions of the cart as I requested. However, the messaging system still just emails people to tell them they have a message, it does not actually email them the message, creating a second unnecessary step.

Final Thoughts

My thoughts on 5.5 are pretty much the same thing as my thoughts on 5.0. The cart is a Ferrari without tires. However, I see mechanics working in the shop putting tires on some wheels and so I am optimistic. The people at Interspire are listening to feedback, even here on my blog, and they are making changes based on that feedback. That is moving in the right direction, even if we are not yet at our destination.

As far as the product variations go, I still can’t fully recommend it for sites needing complex variations, but they’re getting closing, one more small change (the increment setting mentioned above) and they’re about there. In the meantime, my script that helps setup new products that need variations is always available. For other sites though, especially when you have a site owner not that adept at skinning, Interspire is attractive.

Also, apparently in their next version they plan to include the ability to print UPS labels directly from the cart, which would be stellar.

Coming soon will be my review of X-cart (almost done), and my review of the newest CRE Loaded (almost started).

10 Responses to “Interspire Shopping Cart 5.5 Review”

  1. F4480  Says:

    So which is your best recomendation for paid shopping cart ?

  2. Wonder  Says:

    Looking forward to your review of X-Cart. Thanks for the udapte on Interspire.

    Any comments or feedback on CS-Cart from your experiences. I am also interested to see some review on CS-Cart but very few thorough reviews around.

  3. Wei  Says:

    Thanks for the review. I totally agree with you with regards to their product variation features. Very very awkward to use.

    However, I am considering their multi-vendor solution, as it is the only one of the few out there in the market, and I don’t have much choice.

    With regards to single vendor shopping cart, I think CS-Cart could be a very good option. Their product variation is miles ahead of Interspire.

  4. Wonder  Says:

    Thanks Wei,

    Yes, been doing some research and test and already CS-Cart is looking better than Interspire and X-Cart.

    Their(CS-Cart) forum is very good and just a bit concerned about the level of support and responsiveness given the Russian element which I seem to have picked up from most articles I’ve read. However, none suggest that this compromises support in anyway regardless their location/origin.

    I am hearing some negative vibes about X-Cart already, but will still check it out.

    Like to hear what Chris has got in his review..!

  5. Wonder  Says:

    Well I am almost completed with my review and I can say CS-Cart is miles ahead in every area..

    I am tempted to go with CS-Cart unless Chris comes up with something I missed on when we see his X-Cart review.

    CS-Cart is very flexible and value for money where as you have to buy lots of add-ons for X-Cart before you can compare apples for apple.!!

  6. Wei  Says:

    Wonder, another interesting option you might want to have a look is Opencart, very flexible, robust and simple to use.

    For a single storefront, I would pick between CS-Cart and Opencart.

    I need to find a multi-vendor solution. Anyone out there has any experience?

  7. Z  Says:

    Well I been waitin for sevreal months now for interspire to fix some minor updates since 5.0, its now 2010 5.5 has been released with some disappointments! @Wei, I’ve actually checked out Opencart today and I was very impressed! Today I will decide with my developer which cart to go with interspire VS opencart, since he does all the programming I’ll let him choose based on what fits us better for the both of us. I’ll keep you guys updated and let you guys know what shopping cart I went with.. BTW, I want to send a BIG Thank to Chris for the very helpful review! A++

  8. Mahmood  Says:

    Hey chris,

    In your review you mention that the order messaging is now included in all the licensed version, however on their product comparison page, it still only shows it as a feature for the ultimate version. Are you sure it is included in all the versions?

    P.S. I dont currently own a copy of ISC, but I am thinking of getting the professional version.

  9. Jack  Says:


    Any chance of a CS-Cart and OpenCart review? Surprised not to see either in your cart review section. Appears tons of people are talking about both.

    Thanks much for your other reviews. Keep’em fresh.


  10. Jasmine  Says:

    Interspire is a great shopping cart. I am actually researching for a suitable shopping cart form my client, I have narrowed down to either Interspire or CS-Cart.

    Thank you for the review.

Leave a Response

(Email field must be filled in)

Top of page...