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Multiple Mini Store
 
trucatch
Jr. Member
 
Total Posts:  13
Joined:  2012-04-03
 

Well I have a crazy plan and I don’t think that it will be possible but I wanted to see if some of you more experienced users knew if this was capable of working.

First of all, our website is trucatchtraps.com. We have a bunch of animal organizations/groups that are somewhat partners or just an expansion in our company that we don’t really have to worry about. Instead of the organization ordering from us, we would prefer to have them incorporate a smaller version of our webstore. Almost all groups have a website already in place. But right now these organizations only have the capabilities of ordering directly from us. Since these groups have a lot of contacts and know a lot of people, we would like to have the groups set up a store on their website to, in return, give us more business. On their webpage we only want to allow a few items instead of our entire catalog like 6 for instance.

I was wondering if there was a way for me to create a Universal/Generic webstore from our catalog with just a few items that each organization could customize. I would be willing to build the store for each organization and use whichever products they decided.

The group will have a NET 30 contract set up with us. The customer will order from their webstore, the customer will pay the organization, either the organization or we will contact customer to notify them of order, we will receive information about the order, finally we will ship the item to the customer.

Trust me I understand it would be so much easier for them to just advertise our webpage on their webpage, but my boss thought them having their own store is a good idea.

Let me know what you think plus if you need more information I will be more than willing to provide you with it.

Thank you,
Ryan

 
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TRMMarketing
Sr. Member
 
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Total Posts:  145
Joined:  2009-11-29
 

Ryan,
To start out, your crazy idea is entirely possible. A few years ago I set up a mini site network that allowed schools to white label spirit wear apparel for school teams, mascots, etc. I have also set up white label mini sites for custom sporting goods.

There are a few logistical items you will have to address. One is fulfillment. The others are payment and customer service. Do you ship the product directly to the organization and then have them handle the actual distribution or do you ship directly to the end consumer?

For payment, there are two real options, the first being that the cart processes the payment through each organization’s merchant gateway and then has net30 terms to pay the balance. This, as a business standpoint, has a lot of potential for loss. What I would recommend is the second option—all the mini sites process payments through your gateway and then your company cuts a check to each organization at the end of the month. This gives you the ability to handle returns, customer complaints, and also ensures you are not going to get stuck with an unpaid invoice because the products don’t ship until the money is in your account. To accomplish this, you would have to provide your organizations with a method of pulling up a report of sales over a given time period. For this, there are two real options. One is to provide organizations with an admin account, in which they have access to a dashboard. Although, it is important to note that Magento CE, by default, does not allow for restricting permissions on a per store basis for administrative accounts. For this, you would have to go with Magento Enterprise. There is an extension available which allows the Magento CE to restrict administrative accounts on a per store basis. However, it was a nightmare to work with and was very buggy. In the end, we ended up scrapping that idea and instead generating front-end accounts for each school with a custom dashboard, which only appeared for specific customer groups. Each account was tied to a specific school.

As for embedding the store inside each organization’s website, I would recommend against this as you will find yourself fighting an uphill battle with poor server maintenance and a host of security issues. Instead, what I would recommend is that you have each organization set up a sub-domain and point it at the server where their mini store is located. It is then a simple thing to try to match their website look with some simple templating.

Hope this helps. If you have any questions, please feel free to send me a PM.

 
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