Practical Ecommerce

Cart of the Week: CompleteCart by Thin Air Media

There are more than 500 online shopping carts. And each week we feature one, interviewing both the cart’s developer and a customer. “Cart of the Week” is not a review or an evaluation, but rather an opportunity to learn about a shopping cart from the people who build it and use it.

This week, we’ll hear from Marc Terrien, owner and president of Thin Air Media Solutions. The company is based in Crested Butte, Colo., and offers web development and design services and software, including its CompleteSite content management system and the online shopping cart module known as CompleteCart. Terrien estimates that the cart currently has around 30 users.

We’ll also hear from a CompleteCart customer, Rod Cesario, owner of Dragonfly Anglers, a site that sells fishing equipment and accessories.

PeC: Please provide some general background on the cart.

Marc Terrien

Marc Terrien

Marc Terrien: “CompleteCart was first released in 2004 as an integrated module for our website-building software, CompleteSite.

“CompleteCart is designed to moderate a virtual conversation between the customer and the merchant. The site must be smart enough to know about colors, sizes and styles of products; be able to compile selected items into the shopping cart; track inventory; collect complete information about a customer’s order; transmit a customers order to a payment gateway service; and do all of this reliably and securely. CompleteCart manages the technical details of this conversation, and allows merchants to focus on managing what they want to sell.

“CompleteCart was originally built to offer a straightforward shopping experience for users, and an easy-to-manage feature set for the site admin. Over the past several years we have added numerous features at the request of our clients, including a ski reservations package, the ability to market real products and digital products by link or URL, a full lodging package with online availability checking and booking, wholesale sections with user/password access, and the ability to tie CompleteCart to a calendar so event ticketing can be managed and displayed together. The basic package has a large feature set, but it can also be customized to meet special requirements.”

PeC: Is it hosted, licensed, or both?

Terrien: “CompleteCart is available as a module to CompleteSite, the base for all Thin Air websites. It is sold as a licensed product, and hosted on our servers as a SaaS (software as a service) system.”

PeC: How much does CompleteCart cost?

Terrien: “Licenses range from $1,000 to $2,000, depending on the number of products sold. Typical ecommerce sites with custom design run $2,000 to $5,000.”

PeC: What is your company doing to become PCI compliant?

Terrien: “CompleteCart has an excellent track record adhering to standards and security, and is currently under review for full PCI compliance expected this summer. The auditor is one of the ‘big guys,’ but I want to be sure all the ducks are in a row before I say too much.”Listen to Marc Terrien describe the launch of his web marketing business in 2005, and the subsequent acquisition of CompleteCart.

PeC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?

Terrien: “CompleteCart can be quickly implemented in a plug-in fashion, getting the site up and running on a very short timeline. It has an excellent user administration that allows for easy editing of product information, as well as order processing, inventory control, shipping controls, and order reporting.

“Its greatest strength is its customization ability; the cart integrates seamlessly with other modules, like the calendar.”

PeC: What are some of its weaknesses?

Terrien: “It is somewhat limited in the ability to fully customize the look of the actual checkout process, such as the checkout boxes and add-to-cart buttons.”

PeC: What plans do you have for future cart development?

Terrien: “We are planning on adding PayPal and a couple of other additional payment gateway choices, as well as enhancing the ability to customize a cart’s color scheme and overall look to better match the website.”

PeC: How would your cart help an ecommerce merchant, versus the cart he or she is using now?

Terrien: “CompleteCart is a versatile ecommerce system that fully integrates with other aspects of the website. For example, if you have a calendar of events and you sell tickets to those events, you can integrate the ticketing and cart components directly into the calendar and event descriptions.

“Another advantage with CompleteCart is it is customizable. Since our company does software development, many various features and functions can be added to meet your specific needs.”

PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers, who are mainly ecommerce merchants?

Terrien: “Ecommerce is more valid today than ever before, as it allows small, medium and large organizations the maximum leverage for the sales and fulfillment process, especially in a tough, competitive economic environment. If you sell something, you should sell on the Internet, as it opens up the world to your products and services.”

A Customer’s View

Rod Cesario

Rod Cesario

Rod Cesario is the owner of Dragonfly Anglers, a web store that uses CompleteCart to sell fly fishing tackle, outdoor apparel, T-shirts and gifts. According to Cesario, his website processes 10 to 20 sales per month via the cart, and he provides his comments and opinions about it below.

PeC: How long has your company been using CompleteCart?

Rod Cesario: “Since October 2003. I was looking for a company that was local and could easily answer my questions, either by a phone call or by walking a block to its office. I wanted to see as well as hear how things worked within the site. I never did consider other carts.”

PeC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?

Cesario: “It has the versatility to change things within my site myself. I like to know how to do all things related to my business. Controlling the cart, and what is included in the products I offer, is up to me.”

PeC: How could the cart improve?

Cesario: “I would like for new features to be installed so changes can be done quicker and more efficiently.”

PeC: How would CompleteCart improve another merchant’s business?

Cesario: “This cart will improve a merchant’s business only if the merchant is motivated to maintain the cart to a point to make it very easy to purchase products. A cart will work to improve sales only if it navigates easily and gives the consumer confidence to purchase online. This cart gives you the ability to portray that feel.”

PeC: Do you plan on continuing to use the cart?

Cesario: “Yes.”

PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers concerning the cart?

Cesario: “I feel it is very easy to work with a company that is so accessible.”

Other CompleteCart Sites

Kate Monteith

Kate Monteith

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