At FoxyCart we love awesome websites, and especially ones that sell awesome t-shirts. The guys over at Baltrakon T-Shirts have nailed it with their beautiful e-commerce website that showcases their sweet shirts, with the e-commerce side of things being powered by none other than FoxyCart.
Hello! Who are you? What’s your company? How’d you get started in web development or with your business?
Hi! I’m Greg Sadetsky, master of a few dozen hats (with apologies to Dave McClure). I’m presently a full-time student and the technical side to Baltrakon, a shirt design & print shop based out of Quebec City.
I’ve been doing development around and on the web for some time (e.g., I remember Adobe PageMill and FileMaker-based sites).
Could you describe this project? What was the goal? What was the vision?
Apart from selling shirts in about a dozen retail stores in Quebec and Montreal, Baltrakon has always had an online presence. The original site had a gallery-like structure, where you had to navigate between pages of shirt designs. There were 9 designs per page, which meant that going through the entire catalog would mean close to a dozen page loads. The “free” PayPal checkout button was used to process orders.
I started working with Baltrakon on a site redesign with specific goals in mind:
- allow visitors to see the whole shirt catalog upon loading the site’s index (instead of browsing designs using paging)
- optimize the checkout experience (offer a frictionless one-page checkout experience)
- have better admin tools for adding shirts and managing the inventory
There were other nice-to-haves that we also tackled: a visual redesign (on which we worked with a partner), more intra-site linking (to allow better discovery of shirt designs), better pictures for the designs (e.g., photos of people wearing the shirts), better monitoring of the site’s health (using Pingdom), visitors’ paths on the site and e-commerce revenues (FoxyCart’s integration with Google Analytics).
What were your roles and responsibilities in this project?
The visual redesign was done by a partner. I programmed the site and have been on pager duty ever since :-)
How’d you find FoxyCart, and what need or problem drove you to choose FoxyCart over other options?
One of the features we wanted to have on the new site was the ability to edit the shirt inventory. It bears noting that there are a few “parts” to one of our handprinted shirts: the design itself (the “picture”), the t-shirt style (e.g, American Apparel 2001), its color (Poppy, etc.) and size (XS to XL). First, we need to consider that certain designs don’t work with some styles and colors, and that our inventory (blank colored shirts on which the designs are printed) might (or not) have a specific shirt design/color/size.
The “availabilities matrix” we end up with is not huge, but, from what I saw when looking at existing cart / checkout solutions, it did seem a bit hard to find a solution that allowed for an easy way to edit shirts, their “design compatibilities” (red design + green shirt = bad idea) and the inventory (without going into each shirt’s product admin page and removing the 2001 Poppy XLs when those run out, for instance...).
With this need for a custom site, and my general favoring of hosted solutions, the choice for FoxyCart (after reading tons of positive reviews, seeing the developer-friendliness and global DIY spirit) was easy.
How was FoxyCart able to meet the need or problem?
I added the provided sample code to the site so that customers could add shirts to their carts; I was pretty much done after that! The cart and single page checkout were exactly what we were looking for. I have definitely spent more time working on any other part of the site than the cart and checkout integration...!
We also got great “extras”: e-commerce stats in Google Analytics, e-mail receipts and coupons / discounts (we use special codes for retailers so that they can order in bulk through the same site as our own customers; this is much easier than providing them with a paper catalogue, having them fax us their orders, etc.).
Oh -- we also run the site in both French and English. After having a few bits of FoxyCart’s messages translated, we were able to run the site in both languages using the same FoxyCart account. Awesome!
What was your experience with using FoxyCart?
The tech integration was easy, and the documentation clear (the versioning of the docs and frequent updates on the blog made it obvious that work was continually done on the system; the release notes for the latest version are a clear sign of the amount of work that goes into making everything work so smoothly...)
The customer support is beyond outstanding; the e-mail replies I’ve gotten from FoxyCart staff (and CEO...) were helpful, to the point and most of all generous.
What surprised you about working with FoxyCart?
The lack of surprises :-) We haven’t yet hit a snag (knock on wood) or felt like we were being gouged in per-product or per-sales monthly fees. FoxyCart’s technical side is solid and clearly documented while the stellar support staff is on-hand to answer any questions. It’s definitely a transparent, perfect solution.
What would you say to other Developers/Designers/Merchants who are looking for an ecommerce solution?