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Creating Members-Only Websites: Introduction

If you sell information, it's likely that you'll need a "members-only" sections of your website, where only your customers can log in to gain access to the information they have purchased. Modular Merchant's Subscription Product system (also called recurring billing or a continuity program) makes this possible and easy to manage. With Modular Merchant, you can set certain products to be "membership" products. When a customer purchases one of these products, they will automatically have access to the "members only" content that you specify!

Modular Merchant's shopping cart software offers two different ways that you can provide members-only content to your customers: You can either use the store's built-in members area, or add a membership area to your own website. This article will provide an overview of both of these methods. You can then use the method that works best for you, depending on your skill level and desired results.

We'll get to the tutorials in a moment, but first, let's review some of the things that you can do with Modular Merchant's Subscription Product system. With the shopping cart's continuity program, some of the things you can do are:

  • Create a members-only area of your website that only your customers can log in to.
  • Provide different content to each customer, based on which product(s) they have purchased.
  • Specify a list of products, and require the purchase of either any or all of those products.
  • Set a date range for eligibility. For example, customers' access could last for 90 days after they make their purchase.
  • Set rules to prevent customers from sharing their login information with non-customers.

As mentioned above, there's two ways in which you can set up a member's only website that requires a login to access. These options range from super simple to slightly more advanced.
Method 1 uses all the tools built-in to Modular Merchant. No programming is required.
Method 2 allows you to password protect pages of your website, restricting access to customers that are subscribed to one or more products that you specify. Some programming is required.

Below are overviews of each option, with links to a detailed tutorial article for each one.

Method 1: Using Modular Merchant's Built-In Members Area

All Modular Merchant account plans can use this method. It takes advantage of the membership tools that are built in to the Modular Merchant shopping cart software. No programming is required. All you need to do is add the members-only content to the desired products.

Skill Level: Easy

Availability: All Modular Merchant account plans.

What you need to be able to do:

  • Edit a product in your store's administration area, and add "member-only" content to it.

How it works:

  1. Add member-only content to a product.
  2. Customer buys the product.
  3. Customer logs in to the Customer Account area that is built-in to your Modular Merchant online store.
  4. Customer views the member-only content associated with their products.

If this sounds like the best solution for you, then go to the tutorial on using Modular Merchant's built-in membership area.

Method 2: Using Modular Merchant's Remote Membership Validator (RMV)

This method allows you to create a login form on your own website that will restrict the access to your site's members-only content to just your customers. Some simple programming is required.

Skill Level: Intermediate

Availability: Modular Merchant Gold and higher account plans.

What you need to be able to do:

  • Create a web page with a login form.
  • Add PHP* code to the web page to handle the form submission.
    *PHP may be replaced by ASP, JavaScript, or any other language that can handle form data.
  • Work with a simple response returned from the shopping cart software.
  • (optional) Work with XML data returned from the shopping cart software.

How it works:

  1. Create one or more webpages on your website that contain "member-only" content.
  2. Add a login form to the members-only webpages. Your customers will log in to using the email address and password associated with their Customer Account from the shopping cart.
  3. Customer buys the member-only product.
  4. The customer logs in to one of the "member-only" pages on your website.
  5. When the login form is submitted, the page contacts the shopping cart, which checks to make sure that the customer has purchased the appropriate product(s).
  6. The shopping cart responds back with a "Y" if the customer's membership is valid. If invalid, a message explaining why is provided.
  7. (optional) The RMV system may optionally be configured to respond back with an XML document containing the customer's account information and order history.
  8. Based on the response returned by the shopping cart, either let the customer in, or keep them locked out. (Sample code available in the RMV tutorial.)

If this sounds like the best solution for you, then go to the tutorial on using the RMV system. The tutorial includes a complete walk-through of using the system, and sample PHP code is provided.

Using the method above that meets your needs and matches your skill level, it is possible to create password protected websites that your customers can access. Let us know if there's anything that's not covered in the tutorials that you have questions about!

— Last Edited - 01/25/2013 10:20am PST
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