Implementing locked online store - suggestions welcome!

Dear Blocs forum,

this time around I rather need your advise - if you care. :wink:

Backstory and requirements:

I am currently implementing an online platform/store in cooperation between my and a partnering company involved into lab diagnostics business. We deal with many kinds of lab diagnostics and supplies, but this portal should be created specifically for distributing Covid-19 diagnostics, namely - various kinds of rapid tests.
The specific nature is: we only sell these to medical institutions, clinics, specialised wholesalers etc., but NOT to end users (because these tests are not meant to be used by non-professionals).

Because of this restriction, we have to operate our ‘online shop’ only for registered users, being closed to general public, so to say…
Therefore we basically need to approve the registrations for these customers manually. The idea is: a customer applies for registration, but he has to be ‘approved’ by us, not automatically (because of the specifics above).

Current tools I have at my disposal are:

  • Sitelok add-on
  • Ecwid business plan account (with closed storefront app)

I know, that I can do such manual registration with Sitelok, but we need to use Ecwid’s customer group feature for differentiation between purchasers, like hospitals, wholesalers etc.
Hence a customer HAS to be registered in Ecwid store in order to be assigned to a specific group.

My thoughts:

I assume, Sitelok (as good as it is) is probably not suitable for such procedure - because in such case customers have to register twice:

  1. once through Sitelok to gain access to their member’s area on our site (approved by us) and then
  2. once more from there, in order to access their Ecwid’s store account (they’d get automatically).

The only workaround for this which comes into my mind is to omit Sitelok and send to every single customer “their” login and password manually upon their registration request. …which is, of course, less than optimal.

If you, dear reader, have managed to get to the end of this essay and have a better Idea, - please, please, please leave your suggestion. :wink:

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks!

Maxim

Given that you have to check registrants individually and not just wave them through I am thinking you should have a sign up form with specific registration points you want included. At that point you set them up via Ecwid and supply the login details.

This may seem a bit slow but it also protects you from selling to the wrong people through a more automated process. The legal consequences of getting it wrong could be serious I would imagine and you could at least demonstrate all reasonable efforts were made to verify the companies involved. Remember they are used to dealing with bureaucracy and might even think it odd if the process was too easy.

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Hey @Flashman,

thanks for your reply!

Indeed, it can not be treated too easily. As you suggest, it would just evoke a false impression to the customers if they see a general online store for these products.
Still, my idea is to make the process as straightforward as possible for all parties, despite the specifics.

But probably you are right: companies should send us their inquiries first through a contact form and we would add a form field, asking if they prefer to order through our shop directly next time.

Design wise: do you think, such contact/inquiry form should be placed in a modal or just leave it as a “form” on a page? Maybe there are some best practices?

Sorry for bothering… But I really appreciate your input!

Many thanks!

Maxim

As a designer I would say that a modal can be cool and I’ve used them on sites or sometime had a simple form that opens with visibility. Remember you are dealing with dull bureaucrats here, who expect things to look a bit clunky, so a site for Covid shouldn’t look like it was designed with a nod to Bauhaus or even modern day Apple.

My wife works at a local college and they have to jump through 5 levels of bureaucracy to buy a paperclip. Chances are you will receive communications asking you to work in accordance with their own processes. One way or another you just muddle through.

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@Flashman Agree fully.

Design should’t look neither too modern nor too simple. Such style is exactly what I was going after myself. Thanks for confirming. :wink::+1:

No doubt, I have to take “bureaucracy factor” into account, which is hugely important when dealing with institutions. Can’t make it too easy for them, probably. :slightly_smiling_face:

Anyway, thank you very much for taking your time and share you thoughts. Much appreciated!

Maxim

I’m not sure about how Ecwid works in a protected environment, however, if the shopping cart gets displayed through your own site, you could simply insert your shopping cart into a page protected by sitelok. You could then use sitelok’s registration form set to manual approval. Once approved, sitúelos should send the login confirmation to the client that ives them access to your protected shopping cart page.

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Hi @hendon52,

thanks for your reply!

I also thought about similar workaround - the issue is: I have to use Ecwid’s shop login for the customers because we need to differentiate them into price groups there (special discounts etc. related to particular customer type).
That makes one-cart-for-all solution not suitable for me, even if behind a registration lock… Unfortunately.

Thanks again, appreciate it!

Maxim