SmashStack

Target Market

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Integrations

Languages

  • PHP
  • JavaScript

Long time friend and FoxyCart user Kris Sarratt has built multiple websites that use FoxyCart to meet the ecommerce needs of his clients.  We visited with Kris about how FoxyCart helped to rid the fears that normally come with ecommerce.

Questions

Answers

  • Hello! Could you tell us a little about yourself? Who are you? What’s your company? How’d you get started in web development or with your business? What types of work do you enjoy doing? What types of clients do you typically serve?

    My name is Kris Sarratt and I have a web development company named SmashStack that I started about 6 years ago.  I had started doing web design a few years earlier as a hobby which I soon realized I really enjoyed a great deal.  I started out doing a website for non-profit as a favor.  One person in the organization noticed my work, then wanted a website for their business.  Soon another person noticed my work and needed a website for their political campaign and things just grew from there.  I was fortunate that I had a friend at the non-profit named Brett Florio (co-founder of FoxyCart) that was getting into web development.  He sorta took me under his wings and began training me asking nothing in return.  He challenged me back in ‘06 to stop using a WYSIWYG editor and actually learn to program by hand.  That’s a challenge that enabled me to get serious and develop real skills.

    My company is SmashStack.  It’s a smaller web design/development company that runs lean and we can move quickly on projects.  When I say “we”, I mostly mean “me”.  I have other people I bring in on projects when I have elements of a project that need to be done that are either over my skillsets or they can do it better than me (i.e. high end design or advanced programming).  I strive to give clients a high end product at a very competitive price.

    My favorite type of work is when I get to work with other design/marketing firms that have already gotten the client, done the design work and built the sitemap and are simply handing me the PSD files and need a full site/CMS built out.  I enjoy doing front-end browser development with HTML5/CSS3, jQuery and other emerging technologies.  I really get a kick out of working with MODx as well as FoxyCart.

    Initially my client base were individuals I found off Craigslist (that’s how I started growing my business) or clients that were referred to me.  But my client base has begun changing in the last year as mentioned above to design/marketing firms.  I’ve been fortunate enough to get connected with some really amazing designers who need help taking their designs to HTML/CMS/eCommerce.

  • What skills do you have in your arsenal? (html, css, javascript, php, ruby, nunchucks, etc.) How would you rate your level of expertise with those skills? Any favorite apps you use for development or new technologies you’re excited about?

    My primary skills are HTML/CSS.  I am super picky when getting a PSD from a client that I make sure that the final product looks exactly like the design.  I tend to be a perfectionist and my clients greatly appreciate it (and keep sending me more work).  I can sort of crank out a site quickly once all the designs are complete and the functionality finalized.  My other skillset that has been instrumental in growing my company is Project Management and helping clients set expectations which keeps project scope in check.  I really, really enjoy working with MODX CMS as well and have been able to build quite a few MODX + FoxyCart stores.  I’m decent in jQuery (still have a ways to go learning more) and have begun in the last few months to really learn PHP and MySQL.

  • Please describe your experience with FoxyCart. How’d you find it? Why’d it appeal to you? What are your favorite features or aspects of it?

    My experience with FoxyCart has been a really great experience.  I don’t think I found FoxyCart as much as it found me.  As I mentioned earlier, Brett Florio (FoxyCart co-founder) trained me in web development before he started FoxyCart.  When he started it, I was one of the first users and quickly fell in love with it since it was so easy to customize and integrate into my existing projects.  I didn’t have to spend months learning security and other problems that come up with using an eCommerce system you download and install.

    I think my favorite aspects of FoxyCart are: ease of integration into an existing site, ease of customization (so stinking easy to change HTML/CSS), ease of modifying functionality quickly through jQuery, affordability, and how easy it is to set up a store and begin selling products in no time at all.  I also really like the fact that they handle the security elements and I’m not having to worry that I’ve got customer’s CC info sitting on my server.

  • Did you have ecommerce experience prior to using FoxyCart?

    Does putting a Paypal “Buy Now” button on a web page count? :)  No, I was always afraid of getting into eCommerce because of potential liability issues of having secure info sitting on my server.  FoxyCart lifted that fear and allowed me to set up a system in confidence for my clients.

  • Has FoxyCart helped you better serve your clients? Increase your revenues? Improved your overall quality of life? :)

    FoxyCart has absolutely allowed me to produce a better product for my clients.  Once I added eCommerce to my arsenal of skillsets I could offer my clients, I saw a big spike in revenue for my business.  Actually probably over half of my best clients came through FoxyCart.  One company in particular that I work with now quite a lot came through a FoxyCart project.  It has really opened a lot of doors for me and helped me to grow my business quite a lot.

  • Got any FoxyCart websites we can look at? What were your favorite parts of each? (We’ll insert screenshots of each, and add them to our featured sites.)

    I’ve got a few in development at the moment that came out nicely:

     Some live sites:

  • What has been your favorite FoxyCart project? Why?

    I think my favorite project was the Energy Lab Nutrition project (http://energylabnutrition.com/) because it opened up a lot of doors to work with a company that did the original design work.  It was a fun project that we did some neat backend work for, but the end result in gaining a new client, Smash Brand (http://www.smashbrand.com).  Again, FoxyCart has really opened up some great doors for our company.

  • What would you say to other Developers/Designers/Merchants who are looking for an ecommerce solution?

    Look at the various options out there.  There’s no one magic bullet when it comes to eCommerce.  I think FoxyCart’s biggest selling point in my opinion is the fact that it works into what you’re doing, not the other way around.  If you have an existing site and design and you want something that you don’t have to scrap your work to make fit into some system, FoxyCart is amazing.  You just drop in a few lines of code into your head, create your Add to Cart button and you’re ready to go.  Oh, and the checkout page customization is just awesome.  How many systems out there allow you to fully customize your checkout page so easily?  Plus with it’s API, you can really do some neat stuff as well.  It’s a solid system at a great price.