I have a customer who needs 2 different ways of selling her products on a website and i'm not sure how to approach it.

She designs and sells hand-made clothes. Right now she has a Facebook page where people approach her and she takes their details along with the design of their choice, and she sends them available fabrics for them to choose from for their garment. When all is done shes collects the payment and sends them the product.

She also have a limited selection of garments that she sells on a third-party online store, but these pieces are sold "as is" (no size correction). Most of her orders are for custom designs though (people choose one of her designs and she makes a custom garment for them in the fabric of their choice).

I want to make a website for her that will offer users both the option of making a custom order, and the option of purchasing products "as is".

I thought to make 2 links on the product page - one for purchasing "as is" via paypal (on relevant products), and another link for making a custom order (this link will open a form where the user will fill in the wanted size, shipping details and contact info, and once the form is sent he will receive a message saying that his order was made and he will be contacted with shortly to select the fabric). As you can probably guess the fabrics cannot be selected on the website because they change too frequently.

This means that I have 2 ways of ordering products - one in which the users complete their purchase through the website, and another in which the order is completed manually by the website's owner via email.

The question is - how do i make a shopping cart??? Making 2 separate shopping carts for the 2 types of purchases (custom and "as is") seems cumbersome and could lead to users not making curtain purchases because they thought it was included in the other shopping cart.

It seems my only choice is to make one shopping cart for one type of order, but even in this case i don't know what to choose.

I'll be happy for any advice on this matter and i hope iv'e made myself clear enough.


Thanks everyone, but the thing is that unlike other businesses this designer sells mostly custom items (in bulk orders - 3-4 items on an average order). She only has a small selection of products for immediate purchase (also, there's only one unit of every design to be bought "as is").

Since her custom products are selling in bulk orders, i think a shopping cart is necessary because it encourages the user to collect more items and ordering them all at once (not necessarily paying for all of them at once)).

This is why iv'e come up with this solution:

All products ("as is" and custom), will all be added to the same cart.

On the product page the user will have 2 links - one for "as is" purchase and another for "custom order".

When the user clicks the "as is" purchase link they will get a lightbox with all of the product details (including size and fabric information that are relevant only for "as is" purchases), and a "add to cart" link.

When a user clicks the custom order link, they will get a lightbox with a form where they can fill in their size, add extras, write a comment etc, and an "add to cart" link

At checkout the user will fill in shipping details, and press a "finish your order" button, and then they will receive a message saying that their custom order has been sent and they will be contacted by email to choose a fabric, and a suggestion to pay for the "as is" order in the meantime (a paypal link button will appear at the bottom of the message). If they don't pay for the "as is" order it will stay on their shopping cart and in any case the site's owner will be able to see if they haven't paid for the "as is" order and refer to that in the custom order emailing process.

It's not an ideal solution, but i want to make as comfortable as possible for both the user and the site's owner.

Your opinions on this will be much appreciated

Thanks again for all the advice.

6 Answers 6


I guess this is the taskflow

As is -> Select design -> Add to Cart -> Payment gateway

Custom -> Fill form -> Mail receipt -> Manual payment

You need shopping cart only for the As is section. What you need for custom order is an order history page. But since your requirement is for customers to keep track of both in a same section, this is my suggestion


2 items added

  • As-is order 01 (and other line items like price, description, etc)
  • As-is order 02 (and other line items like price, description, etc)


2 recent custom orders

  • Custom order 01 (with line items like order number) Check mail for more details

  • Custom order 02 (with line items like order number) Check mail for more details



Instead of Order history, you can provide some other button text to guide the user to a different payment method.

This way, your users can see the status of both As-is and Custom orders in the same section, the shopping cart. The two sections are divided by the "Proceed to Checkout" button making it clear that As-is orders should procced to payment, and custom orders are already placed.

Instead of Order history, you can provide some other button text to guide the user to a different payment method.

  • This is a nice solution. I was hoping to take advantage of the shipping details at the end of checkout and use them for the custom items as well (that's why i thought to make it so that the checkout submit button would send all of the custom items orders (/inquiries), and only then offer purchasing of the "as is" products). That said, when i think about it, for each custom order made the user will have to fill out certain details anyway (size, height, extra features etc.). They will have to do so because it gives them the option of inquiring about items for themselves and for others as well
    – anat
    Jul 15, 2015 at 22:57
  • Since they will have to fill out a small form anyway, I can just add one more field for country and that should be sufficient for shipping pricing. It will be much more convenient because the ordering process of the "as is" products will remain a standard process Your solution is elegant because it allows reviewing of all types of orders before checkout (there is no user registration on the website because of ssl / development costs, and so this review will only be used for one session, but it will allow the users to review everything in an orderly manner before checkout which is great).
    – anat
    Jul 15, 2015 at 22:57
  • Thank you @anat. Glad this answer helped. All the best with your website Jul 16, 2015 at 1:10

You do not need to add customized product into cart since the payment will be done later manually. Cart approach is for payment at the end but you can use another metaphor which is highly accepted in service and customized product sector: inquiry

You can create an inquiry section for customized orders with a suggestive price indication. Due to the strategy, you can promote customized products while shopping the ready made products.

As an opinion, checking car websites can be a good reference point for you since it has many customized parts.


You don't need two separate shopping carts. Your shopping cart is just a generic collection. It can contain any product(s) for that matter. In your case

  1. you can specify whether the product is "as is" or a "customizable" one (You can put a flag on the product to say whether this product is customizable. Based on this flag you can enable/disable a "customize" button to open up your form).
  2. you can show the size of the "as is" product in the description with a disable "Customize" button, then the user will know it is to be bought "as is"
  • Thanks, but the problem is with the end-point of the ordering process - one type on order is purchased at the end of it's process with paypal, and the other is not purchased at the end - it is moved on to a manual payment process. That is the actual problem - if the user adds to his cart an "as is" product and a custom product what will he see in the shopping cart? How will he be transferred to checkout when there are 2 different kinds of checkouts based on the products in his shopping cart?
    – anat
    Jul 15, 2015 at 13:09

Sounds like you have two channels. 1) manual payment for custom, 2) paypal for as-is.

The first option doesn't really need a cart. It's not like customers are going to be filling up their virtual cart with lots of custom products. Even if they do want to order more than one thing, it sounds like this channel will be best served with a landing page that explains the purchase process and a form of some sort of choose some initial options and get in touch. Any links to this page (from product pages) can have the call-to-action "How to Buy", or something like that.

For those products that can be bought as is, you have a cart. Items have an "Add to Cart" call to action. Design patterns and conventions for carts abound.


I would recommend a split layout. Distinguish the process using colors, icons and context. You don't have to add the custom design to cart. The custom design is a group/set of data that the designer would use to make the product. Therefore you can treat it like sending an email. You could include a product reference number in the bespoke design that's from a factory design.

Here are some examples of split layout,

Sample wireframe for OP.


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

  • Thanks for the elaborated suggestion! I'm gonna go with something similar to this only using Gautham Raja's suggestion for a shopping cart for users to add "as is" items, and to display both "as is" items and custom order history before checkout. Point being - there's not going to be a shopping cart / inquiry cart for the custom order items and they will be sent one by one, but at least there will be a record of the custom orders in the admin panel (for the site's owner), and in the shopping cart before purchase (for the user)
    – anat
    Jul 15, 2015 at 23:23

Why not delay customization options until the shopping cart is finalized...e.g. you press the checkout option.

You'd press checkout, pay for any as-is items in the cart... then get the options for the custom items.

If you don't pay for the as-is items, you don't get the ability to order custom items..but it beats having a split order (I see you ordered an as-is item, but you didn't pay for it yet).

As for customized items you could put an explanation that this is a PRICE TO BE DETERMINED price and when you hit checkout, if the as-is bill is zero, you'd fill out the forms for each item and get the email to select specifics.

This how I would think about this...

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.