Practical Ecommerce

Cart of the Week: Cartweaver

Practical eCommerce counts over 300 different shopping cart systems. In this ongoing “Cart of the Week” feature, we profile a specific cart, asking the cart’s owners and users about its strengths and weaknesses.

Here we profile Cartweaver, a licensed cart system based in Washington state. The cart solution is designed for integration with Dreamweaver and costs $295. We interviewed CEO Lawrence Cramer, asking him to explain the benefits of his company’s cart. We then asked Michael Evangelista, a ColdFusion developer who has used Cartweaver on dozens of sites, to evaluate the cart.

PeC: Please provide some general background on the cart.

Lawrence Cramer Cramer: “We started out as a ColdFusion cart because I’m a ColdFusion developer. For version 2, we worked with store developers to develop an ASP and PHP version as well. The current version, 3, came out with new features, improvements, several updates and fixes, better discounting, display of product images, tightened security and updated documentation about how to make sure users know databases are secure. The cart is licensed to developers who can make as many sites as they wish for themselves or end users.”

PeC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?

Cramer: “Cartweaver is easy to apply to a site, doesn’t force a particular structure and respects your design. You don’t have to know code, but it would be helpful to know your way around HTML, CSS and Dreamweaver. Cartweaver is made to work really easy in Dreamweaver and to use the toolbar interface. If you do know code, all source code is included. It’s highly modular and has a lot of log commenting in the code. It’s pretty easy to customize for people who do know code.”

PeC: What are some of its weaknesses?

Cramer: “Right now we don’t support Google Checkout. We also do not integrate with order management or accounting software. Users can export and import files, but we don’t have anything built in.”

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

Cramer: “We have an add-on in development called Customer Contact that has really extensive search capabilities. It will allow users to search their customer list based on what the customers purchased. Being able to narrow down whom you communicate with in your customer base will be really effective for marketing. And, with the huge strides ColdFusion has made with release of version 8, we’re hoping to take more advantage of that.”

PeC: How specifically would using Cartweaver improve a merchant’s business?

Cramer: “Cartweaver is the next step in the evolution of a small ecommerce business to move to a stand-alone ecommerce solution that gives you complete control over the look and feel of your site.”

PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers?

Cramer: “One of the good things about Cartweaver is that it does install into Dreamweaver as an extension. It’s a really easy process to get all the files in and configured appropriately. Also, protecting customers’ data is important, and one thing Cartweaver never does is store customer credit card information. That’s one less liability in your business.”

A Customer’s View

Michael Evangelista, owner of a development company, Evangelista Design, and a hosting company, Gowesthosting.com, offers his thoughts on the cart.

PeC: What are Cartweaver’s biggest strengths?

Michael Evangelista Evangelista: “For most users, the way it integrates with Dreamweaver is second to none. For the advanced user, the code is very transparent and easy to edit directly. While it works out of the box just fine, you can turn it into almost any thing you like because it’s customized very easily. Even my customers who are not web savvy have had no problem running their Cartweaver site.”

PeC: What are some things it could improve?

Evangelista: “Cartweaver could improve by offering more polished CSS. The dynamics is great, but the display is pretty basic. It’s not like some of these others where it is a whole ecommerce solution. It could improve in terms of adding more themes and skins that are part of the default cart.”

PeC: How specifically would using Cartweaver improve a merchant’s business?

Evangelista: “The back-end administrator system for Cartweaver includes all the features a merchant needs to manage orders, customer history and of course the product itself. It makes it very easy for the store owners to go about running their business.”

PeC: Do you plan to continue using Cartweaver? Why or why not?

Evangelista: “Absolutely. It’s been very easy for me to set things up in a fashion that allows me to use the same file set for multiple projects. It’s very fast and easy to turn every site into an ecommerce site with things just the way I like them. It has everything I need.”

PeC: Any other thoughts on shopping carts for our readers?

Evangelista: “When developers build an ecommerce site we are taking on the responsibility of not only our customers’ web presence but their transactions as well. Make very sure the product is secure, well supported, and has a community of reliable seasoned developers to make sure development with each version goes correctly. It has to be something easy for a developer to use and understand, but it also has to be easy for your customers.”

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Brendan Gibbons
Brendan Gibbons
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Comments ( 2 )

  1. cartweaveruser July 22, 2009 Reply

    Cartweaver is a good solid little e-commerce system for entry – to mid level programmer.
    Cartweaver was developed by programmers for programmers and as such sometimes lacks real world logic or administrative accounting needs on very basic levels.

    For example in reviewing orders it does not total order sales numbers for list of orders showing – pretty standard stuff –

    Other things it needs to improve upon are:

    Ability to enter a Company name into the customer or shipping information pages.

    Ability to quickly & easily import product data.

    Entering product data is a bit cumbersome at times as well

    There is not a very easy way to adjust code files as there are multiple code files that have to be changed just to add fields, and the logic behind the coding is sometimes confusing as to why things are coded in certain ways.

    Uploading product images is a big pain an slows the manual process down a lot

    Product Images must to be resized prior to uploading (you can upload up to 4 product images) as Cartweaver does not allow you to set various image size requirements.

    No quick way to update multiple product prices

    Developer is not to programmer friendly at times if you develop plugins to sell to other users.

    Support is pretty good although it still uses the old newsgroups and lacks a support forum – very time consuming when trying to find answers to questions very fast. No knowledge based system in place at this point either.

    Biggest plus Cartweaver has is it’s pricing –

    Who should buy – Entry-Low end Mid level programmers only

  2. paulab November 12, 2010 Reply

    As an entry level person who inherited a CW site, I find Cartweaver frustrating and painstaking. Having developed a site using Zen Cart, it’s easy for me to compare the two. CW does not have:

    stacking discounts

    gift certificate discounts

    $$ off (say save $5 on next order with this code) takes $5 off every item in cart, not whole cart

    Pictures have to be in 4 different sizes to upload to CW

    Form that you enter items cannot be duplicated for same type items

    As above, cannot update mulitple product prices

    If you are not the one who purchased CW, you will have no support and I cannot find enough instruction online for much of anything!

    Cartweaver forums: having difficulty logging in to ask questions.

    Although it’s easy enough to learn the basics, changing files or integrating new add-ons are a bear! Ugh!
    BUT their facebook forum does respond to questions and issues quickly… although they always send me to the forum that I can’t log into!!

    It certainly would be helpful if the user knew .php (in my case)!

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