At Practical eCommerce, we are aware of more than 350 online shopping carts. And each week we feature one, interviewing both the cart’s developer or management 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 built it and use it.
This week, we’ll hear from Margo Baxter, founder and CTO of Flying Cart, a hosted shopping cart with offices in Austin, Texas and Chicago, Ill. The company has roughly 6,500 stores using its cart software. We’ll also hear the views of Sandra Miller, the owner of Graffiti Jewelry, a Flying Cart customer.
PeC: How much does the cart cost?
Baxter: “[The Standard plan is $14.99 a month and includes up to 50 products; the Pro version is $29.99 a month and includes up to 250 products as well as inventory management and the ability to send newsletters; the Super plan is $59.99 a month and includes up to 1000 products and all the features of the Pro version.] Marketing tools and credit card processing are included. We also have a free plan with limited features so people can try it out. We don’t charge transaction fees.”
PeC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?
Baxter: “Flying Cart makes it really easy to set up a store. You don’t have to have any special technical knowledge and can be ready for sales in less than five minutes. We automate as much of the online marketing as we can and we provide lots of information about marketing on our blog. For example, merchants can submit their products to Google Product Search with one click. We also offer social networking features so stores can connect with one another to share customers. Our customer service is fast and more personalized than any other service because we want to do everything we can to help each business succeed.”
PeC: What are some of its weaknesses?
Baxter: “Our approach is simplicity and to automate marketing. We don’t have all the features you will find in expensive ecommerce solutions because we focus on simply selling products.”
PeC: What plans do you have for future cart development?
Baxter: “We want to take our marketing tools one step further to make it easy to advertise products online. We are currently working on integrating Google AdWords into our system.”
PeC: How would your cart help an ecommerce merchant, versus the cart he/she is using now?
Baxter: “Our cart is good for small to medium size retailers that want a simple solution and don’t need all the bells and whistles of more complicated sales systems. We help people start a business step by step. Getting the shopping cart is a good start but if you don’t know how to market yourself, it’s hard to get sales. We take care of that.”
PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers, who are ecommerce merchants?
Baxter: “Focus, focus, focus on selling your product first. Don’t worry about the store design or features that you think you might need in the future. Just get that first sale and go from there.”
A Customer’s View
Sandra Miller is a Portland, Ore. artist and a Flying Cart customer. She uses the cart on her website, Graffiti Jewelry. Here, Miller offers her opinions and comments about the cart.
PeC: What does your company sell via the cart?
Miller: “Artisan glass jewelry, glass decor, photography, and giclee prints.”
PeC: What is your store’s approximate total annual revenue?
Miller: “It varies from between $5,000-50,000 per year.”
PeC: How long have you been using Flying Cart?
Miller: “Two years.”
PeC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?
Miller: “Both my customers and myself enjoy the easy interface and navigation. It’s clean and attractive and very customizable which is important to me. New options are constantly being added by the development team.”
“I also love the community aspect to Flying Cart and the unique blog posts that educate Flying Cart merchants on how to build their businesses. We are never left out of the loop.”
PeC: How could the cart improve?
Miller: “There aren’t many things I would change about the cart other than I would love to see an option for creating pages to elaborate on each product category. As an artist, I feel the customer needs more specific information about each group of items than the ‘about me’ page can provide. I have been able to work around that with pop-up links, but I would like an entry page option incorporated into the site.”
PeC: How would Flying Cart improve another merchant’s business?
Miller: “The unbelievable ease of setting up shop, filling the store, and managing the merchandise is what sets Flying Cart apart from the other ecommerce sites I’ve used. I have given dozens of paid and free sites a fair try, and even developed my own site from the ground up. As an artist, I spent more time learning HTML than I did creating my product. Now that I am with Flying Cart I feel like an artist again. I was shocked at how much time I freed up. [The Flying Cart team] respond to questions within the day, and they are so incredibly helpful, as well as showing a deep interest in the opinions and suggestions of their clients.”
PeC: Do you plan on continuing to use the cart?
Miller: “Oh, yes. I love my storefront. Don’t anyone take away my Flying Cart!”
PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers concerning Flying Cart?
Miller: “This is truly a community of storeowners working in tandem with the developers. I’m very proud to be a part of this unique approach to selling online. From the moment I signed up, I have said this site and the people running it are a breath of fresh air.”