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After lots of research, I'm considering using Wordpress and either the WP e-commerce plugin or the Shopp plugin. We'll also integrate with PayPal to do the actual credit card transaction.

The products that we will be selling will be a combination of regular products and "odd" products that have crazy dimensions and weights. Whenever one of these "odd" products are part of the shopping cart, we want the transaction to be passed on to a sales associate. The sales associate will look at the order and provide estimated shipping information (they need to figure out how to group and package odd products with regular products, if possible).

Will the two plugins that I mentioned allow you to intercept the checkout process to do this?

Is this something that ecommerce plugins/engines allow you to do?

I'm thinking of just tagging these "odd" products and then I would hopefully be able to "hook" into the process somewhere.

(Note: I also posted this on StackOverflow but thought that this is also relevant here.)

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The entire goal of using an e-commerce solution like these plug-ins is to automate the process ... meaning there's typically no way to intercept the purchase process for this kind of special handling (that would defeat the purpose of automation).

One option you have, though, is to just not list your "odd" products in the e-commerce solution. List them separately (on a special page, in a different section) so that they can be handled separately. This would prevent them from ever being added to the user's shopping cart and allow regular purchases to occur instantly as normal.

An additional problem you'll be facing if you try to build this kind of checkout intervention into any e-commerce solution: security. People are wary of buying things online to begin with, and placing this additional step either requires users to a) authorize the purchase twice (once when they're shopping, again when your sales rep deals with the purchase) or b) provide you license to charge whatever you want after a sales rep handles the purchase.

Option A will be frustrating to users. They want to make the purchase, receive their goods, and be done with it. Option B opens you up to a lot of risk because you become responsible for someone else's account information.

So while it might be possible to "hook into the process somewhere" with one of these plug-ins, that would be a very dangerous thing to do.

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Perhaps before I can intercept before it gets to processing. Indicate that someone will call them and get appropriate credit card information and such. –  milesmeow Oct 7 '10 at 21:28
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In that case, I'd suggest using something like WP E-commerce and just not giving it a payment gateway. Don't collect any payment information and do it over the phone. If you try to mix and match automated payments with manual processing, you'll only run into problems. –  EAMann Oct 7 '10 at 21:44
    
What about having parts of the online offering be "active" so that it can be used with the shopping cart but the "odd" items are "inactive" and can't be used with the shopping cart (maybe they are just static lists on a webpage? Those items have to be called in to be ordered. –  milesmeow Oct 8 '10 at 4:58
    
That would be a very transparent compromise ... one that I'd strongly encourage. From a consumer point of view, it would provide a clear distinction between what will be automatically charged and what you'd have to authorize over the phone with a sales rep. –  EAMann Oct 8 '10 at 14:15
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