Just a quick post to announce the availability of my latest side-project: FoxyWire, which I built in about 15 hours of coding (PHP/mySQL) over the course of a week. FoxyWire is an out-of-the-box integration between two of the quickest ways to cobble together an e-commerce business that I’m aware of – FoxyCart for almost instant shopping cart functionality, and Shipwire for automated intelligent fulfillment and shipping.
Until today, if you wanted to use FoxyCart and Shipwire together to run your business, you needed to either transfer orders manually by uploading spreadsheets, or do some custom coding to connect the two APIs. I went ahead and did the hard work for you – now you can use a (free) FoxyWire account as a “universal connector” to funnel FoxyCart orders directly into Shipwire and build an end-to-end automated supply chain without leaving your desk.
Here’s a bit of background on how each service works, and how you can stich them together quickly with FoxyWire to build an enterprise class e-commerce supply chain.
FoxyCart is different than any other online shopping cart software in that it’s designed to be lightweight, easy to setup, and not require the customer to jump through tons of hoops to check out. It’s the last point that drew me to FoxyCart – every additional “Next Step” click is a chance for cart abandonment. The checkout page is a single screen that can be completed in under a minute. Very slick, very easy. I’ve used FoxyCart to power several side projects, and have gotten explicit feedback from customers that “your checkout is the easiest I’ve ever used.” FoxyCart also doesn’t have any software at all you need to upload to your own server – orders are simply passed into their hosted cart via forms, links with parameters, or even a JSON API. Check out their 2-minute tour of FoxyCart for a deeper dive into their features.
Ah, how the world has changed. Advanced logistics and fulfillment used to be reserved for large, international companies with sophisticated supply chain managers. Not anymore. Shipwire brings professional-grade fulfillment within the price range and sophistication level of an individual entrepreneur. Shipwire has warehouses in LA, Chicago, Toronto, Vancouver, and London. To get started, you can ship your inventory to any or all of Shipwire’s warehouses. When a new order comes in, simply send the SKUs and address information to Shipwire (automatically via their API if you’re using FoxyWire), and they’ll use intelligent business rules to ship the order for the lowest cost possible, dynamically selecting the closest warehouse and cheapest shipping carrier. Check out this interview with their CEO to learn a bit more about how they are trying to help entrepreneurs build supply chains to rival Fortune 500 companies.
FoxyWire acts as a connector and translator between FoxyCart and Shipwire. FoxyWire simply listens for new transactions from FoxyCart, performs some error checking and logic (to be sure we don’t try to ship e-books for example), translates the orders into a format Shipwire can understand, then pushes the address and line item information to Shipwire. I couldn’t have built FoxyWire without the great APIs provided by both FoxyCart (API docs link) and Shipwire (API docs link). The Shipwire API is extremely handy in that it takes only an XML file containing address information and the order’s line items – no specific shipping instructions are required. Shipwire intelligently selects shipping options based on the rules laid out in the user’s Shipwire account.
The kind folks at both FoxyCart and Shipwire have listed FoxyWire on both their websites (here and here) as the only currently available method for FoxyCart/Shipwire integration. Over the next few months, I hope FoxyWire is able to help a lot of people launch new businesses without jumping through manual spreadsheet hell or expensive upfront coding. If you’re a new entrepreneur looking to launch an e-commerce business selling physical goods, I don’t know of any quicker way to get started taking orders and sending them to your customers than by using FoxyCart, FoxyWire, and Shipwire.
Note: As of November 2012, FoxyWire is now part of Order Desk. Order Desk is an extremely robust FoxyCart order management product created by David Hollander, which adds an order dashboard, subscription management, order statistics, custom reporting, and integration with lots of additional systems in addition to the simple FoxyCart/Shipwire sync offered by FoxyWire.