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My company is currently using Volusion and finding it doesn't meet our needs, so we're doing some research on switching.

We need to handle complex product bundles and options representing child products with their own SKUs. It's easiest to explain by example.

Let's say we have a product that includes a control unit, component A, and component B. For component A, they have several options of different sizes, some but not all of which increase the total price. Component B comes in several styles and sizes, but the size must match component A or they will not be compatible. Some styles increase cost as well. Style options are the same regardless of size.

Components A and B are both sold as individual items. Every option for component A has a sku, and every size/style combination for component B also has its own SKU (3 sizes, 3 styles, 9 SKUs). When the product is sold, it should decrease the stock for the control unit, as well as each component. And of course in our back end our shipping dept needs to know what components were selected to pack the correct items.

The ideal UX would be if the customer can choose component A from a dropdown then the dropdown for component B will only show style options and automatically assign the matching size, to prevent customers from purchasing an incompatible combination. Our lead time on these components is very long, so we do not want to allow them to order out of stock components - ideally they should not be listed in the dropdowns at all, though if that cannot be done they need to be made aware of what specific component(s) is/are out of stock so they can make another choice if they want.

Another specific need we have is that we sell to both retail and wholesale clients. Wholesale pricing is product-specific - it's not a flat percentage off or the like. We would like to avoid listing every product twice in a retail and wholesale version - is it possible to flag customer accounts as wholesalers and have them receive the reduced prices on the same listings? Ideally it would display both the wholesale and retail prices to wholesalers but only retail price to regular customers. Going a step further, can we have different pricing for product OPTIONS for customer levels? An example product might be $20 retail / $10 wholesale for the base version, but $22 retail / $11 wholesale with added color - retail customers add $2 to the base price, but wholesalers only add $1.

Going yet another step further, our distributor agreement with one of the brands we stock forbids online sale to retail customers and web only wholesalers but allows us to sell to wholesalers who maintain a brick-and-mortar store. Is there a way to further flag customer accounts as wholesalers with or without brick-and-mortar stores and only display these products to the proper audience? It's fine if we have to manually flag these accounts, but will the system handle pricing and display differences for different customer types?

Can Magento handle these (admittedly complex) specific needs or do we need to look into other providers instead?

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One thing I will say right off the bat is that Magento handles some fairly complex product configurations. Your specific needs might not be supported 100% out of the box as you expect, but generally you can bend some rules to allow Magento to handle your needs without a lot of customization.

That said, if you consider customizing certain parts of the store (you will need developers for this), you will be able to meet your needs however you like. The main benefit over Volusion or other hosted services is that you control the code and you decide what your store is capable of. Of course, you also accept a larger responsibility in managing your store and code base.

When it comes to customer types, Magento has a couple generic "Retail" and "Wholesale" customer classes built in, but you are welcome to add additional classes to meet your needs. There are some fairly robust mechanisms available out of the box to customize pricing based on customer class, but again, this might not meet your needs 100%, but it will likely come close enough to be acceptable (or, again, you can always customize).

If you decide Magento doesn't fit your needs, I don't think you're going to find another platform that will do any better without heavy customization. On top of that, anything that is a hosted solution (like Volusion) leaves you at their mercy for new features. I highly suggest either installing a sandbox store (you may need help setting this up if you are not familiar with typical sysadmin tasks) or fiddling around with a demo store (it looks like Magento removed the CE demo store but I'm sure you can find other demo stores floating around the web).

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in terms of Magento you need a grouped or bundled (have to be checked) product whose associated products are of the type configurable product -> problem here is that Magento doesnt support it, you can only add simple products.

Solution : you need to built a new product type, which fits your needs and also maps the different dependencies between the components and also the relation/rule to the inventory

You can set up different customers groups which fits your needs, you can enter the price according to the groups, when you create the products in the backend.

For the visibility of the prices you need to implement a little logic to show the right prices to right customer grouped. I guess you like not to show any prices if the visitor of your shop is not logged in (case which you should consider)

Finally you need to Developer to implement the features you like to have.

I hope my answer was helpful.

  • And not to forget is possible performance issues, depending on the amount of products variants, options ..... – Samir Shaban Jun 23 '14 at 21:52

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