FoxyCart's Reason for Being

FoxyCart's raison d'être is simple: To provide web professionals with a powerful, flexible, secure, and enjoyable e-commerce platform with which to deliver more profitable e-commerce sites to their merchant clients.

This focus on serving web professionals who in turn serve merchants is a unique approach, and can best be understood in the context of FoxyCart's birth.

In the beginning...

In the beginning… we waited for somebody else to build the perfect e-commerce platform. We'd tried dozens of systems, yet every time a client requested e-commerce we still spent dozens of hours scouring the internet for the Holy Grail, for some stone unturned. We knew how to build sites, which libraries we liked, how to author HTML and CSS. We wanted e-commerce that worked with us, not a system that forced us to re-learn the basics just to end up with a cludgy, antiquated site that was a bear to maintain and a beast to customize.

We had a CMS we loved, and we'd be damned if we were going to use anything inferior. We wanted an e-commerce platform that was CMS agnostic, that we didn't have to worry about the security of, and that we could easily style to match the handcoded HTML+CSS we'd already built.

So we waited. And waited. Years, we waited. Until we could wait no more. Brett finally realized that this Holy Grail of e-commerce wasn't going to build itself, so he proposed it to Luke, who said (no joke): “Yeah, I think we could pull that off in a weekend.” Brett knew that Luke was sorely mistaken, but also had a hunch that if Luke fully grasped the vision for FoxyCart he would run for the hills. So Brett kept his mouth shut, and a full year later, FoxyCart was launched.

People often ask how we came up with the name “FoxyCart”. We started calling it FoxyCart as a sort of codename, not intending to ever use it publicly. For better or for worse, all the .coms were taken for every other idea we had, and in the absence of anything official, the moniker became what we knew and loved. Exciting and true!

Serving Web Designers and Developers

Because FoxyCart was built by web designers and developers, and because we were ultimately building what we ourselves wanted, FoxyCart naturally was built with the concerns of web professionals in mind. Some highlights include:

  • Versioned in a completely unique way for a hosted service. We keep improving FoxyCart, but new versions don't impact old. This is key, because the last thing you want is for a client to call you up in the middle of the night because an upgrade (to a system you don't even control) broke their store. And yes, we had those phone calls with other hosted services.
  • Not a turn-key solution, because you (or the merchant) likely already have “best of breed” tools to use. For example, many e-commerce systems do analytics, inventory, and email marketing. But no e-commerce systems do analytics as well as Google or Omniture; or inventory as well as a real warehouse or retail inventory management solution; or email marketing as well as MailChimp or CampaignMonitor. And why would you want to give your clients a sub-standard solution? We wouldn't, so we didn't build FoxyCart like that.
  • Completely customizable, a la CSSZenGarden. While nearly every other system out there claims easily design flexibility, most of them are either lying or clueless. A bajillion templates is not design flexibility. Design flexibility is using your own HTML and CSS exactly how you want. FoxyCart's automatic template caching can even take your existing templates without you re-coding anything at all, and automatically cache, secure, and host it on our servers.
  • Admin accounts can be flexibly linked to multiple separate stores, so web professionals and firms can manage all their clients' stores from a single login.

So while we set out to build a tool we would use, our ultimate goal was serving our clients, the merchants. We made our living on referrals from happy clients, and if FoxyCart was built to please the designers and developers at the expense of the merchant, that'd quickly lead to unsustainable business practices. To that end…

Serving Merchants

The ultimate goal of any e-commerce site is to convert visitors into customers, and to do so as efficiently and problem-free as possible. So we completely rethought the checkout process and streamlined it as much as possible to eliminate as many steps between the customer's money and the merchant's bank account as possible. FoxyCart innovated:

  • A unique one-page checkout with automatic detection of a new or returning customer. Gone were the days of confusing prompts and inputs to force the user to remember if they'd been to a store before. FoxyCart figures it out automatically.
  • Near unlimited product flexibility, allowing for physical, intangible, downloadable, and subscription products utilizing any type of order form imaginable. One option or a hundred, if you can build the “add to cart” form, FoxyCart can handle the product.
  • Outsourced maintenance, compliance, and liability. By fully outsourcing the checkout process to FoxyCart the merchant reduces their PCI Compliance requirements from an SAQ D (200+ largely impossible-for-mortals requirements) to the SAQ A (a much more reasonable couple dozen easier requirements). Because a merchant should be able to focus on their core competencies instead of worrying about security and risk.
  • A solution that's easier for the merchant's web firm to implement leads to reduced time-to-market and greatly reduced startup costs. The benefits are clear.

The Complete (Incomplete) Result

With this unique approach of first serving the people building the sites, who in turn serve the merchants selling the product, FoxyCart is in a different category than the vast majority of our competition. FoxyCart is not a turnkey solution. This generally makes FoxyCart perfect for some and just plain wrong for others. Find out more in the next sections, What FoxyCart Is and What FoxyCart Isn't.

What FoxyCart Is

FoxyCart is:

  • Fast and easy to get started with. All that's required is basic HTML knowledge to create a link or a form. Even if you've never created an e-commerce site before, FoxyCart will allow you to implement a custom e-commerce solution without banging your head against your desk.
  • Flexible and powerful enough for advanced developers and integration requirements. With features like an API, XML datafeeds, Single Sign-On, JSONP capabilities, and more you can use FoxyCart to create radically customized e-commerce functionality without having to reinvent the wheel.
  • Completely customizable, much like CSS Zen Garden. Well-formed and semantic HTML is output, and you can use your own templates and CSS to quickly, easily, and automatically style FoxyCart to match.
  • Built for web professionals, who in turn use FoxyCart to provide superior e-commerce solutions to their clients.
  • Built to integrate and to eliminate data duplication. FoxyCart is like a power drill, not a Swiss Army knife. We believe in using the best tool for the job, which usually isn't an all-in-one tool.
  • Affordable and profitable with low monthly costs and the most streamlined checkout flow available, to reduce time to market, cost of implementation, liability and compliance burdens; and to increase conversion rates, profitability, and customer satisfaction.
  • Secure. We work hard on our security so our users can take advantage of the reduced liability and compliance burdens that may be associated with using an outsourced solution to handle transactions.
  • Open and honest with our technology and limitations, and appreciative of constructive feedback.

What FoxyCart Isn't

FoxyCart isn't:

  • A turnkey solution that includes a site-building system, email marketing, inventory, analytics, CRM, or etc. FoxyCart is a master of one trade, not a jack of all.
  • The kitchen sink. FoxyCart does one thing and one thing only (the cart and checkout flow), but it does that one thing better than any other system.
  • Built for non-technical users to implement, though very basic HTML knowledge and a desire to learn will get you a long way.
  • A 24/7/365 friend on the phone. We're really (really) friendly, and we strive to go above and beyond when we provide support, but we're also a small team. Technical support by phone is inefficient and difficult, given the more technical nature of what FoxyCart is. If you require phone support, FoxyCart isn't for you.

Ready to Get Started?

If FoxyCart sounds like the right fit for your needs, that's great! If you're not sure, feel free to ask. If FoxyCart doesn't sound like it's your bag, we still recommend reading The E-Commerce Bare Necessities on our wiki, as they contain valuable information regardless the e-commerce platform you end up using. Our goal is to serve web professionals doing e-commerce, even if that means providing education for those ultimately using another solution.

You've made it this far, so continue on to the Getting Started section, and let us know if you have any questions along the way.

– Brett, Luke, and the rest of the FoxyCart team

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