Although we use the term 'customers', the user records created in Kartris can actually be for people who may not have purchased anything on your site. For example, a user can create an account on the system in order to create a wish list, or save baskets, or sign up to the news letter.

If these users decide to purchase at a later date, they will use the same account that they created previously.

By keeping all user data linked to a single account (which is unique for an email address), it is easy for both the store owner and the customers themselves to see order history and access other features of the software.

You can click through to a customer from any order record in the back end.

On the Customers page ('Customers > List/Find'), you can search by part of the email address, name, company or by the ID number. If you enter a number alone that matches exactly an ID number of a customer in the database, Kartris will take you directly to that customer's user record.

If you deal with certain types of customers such as retail customers, wholesale customers, preferred customers, etc. you may find it useful to group these customers so that you can easily find all similar customers or apply certain benefits, prices and restrictions to them. The customer group functionality in Kartris can be accessed by going to 'Customers > Groups').

The interface lists all the customer groups, and has special links to 'affiliates' and 'mailing list', which are special built-in customer groups.

One of the common requirements of an online store is to hide certain categories and products from all but specific customers. When editing a category, product or version, you will see a dropdown menu selection for 'Limit by group'. In this way, you can link a category, product and/or version to a specific group. In this case, only customers who are logged in to the front end and are members of the appropriate group will be able to see these items. Other customers will not see them, or be able to find them in searches.

Although you can set a % discount at customer level, you may find that this does not give you the direct control you need. You may want to individually price certain items for a specific group, so for example it might be $15.00 for retail customers, or $13.25 for wholesale clients.

Kartris has a tab under versions labelled 'Customer Group Prices' where you can override the price of any version for each customer group. Leaving the price at zero for any group will mean that the item for that group will be at normal price (and not zero!).

Of course, this functionality can enable you to have customer-specific prices too - you can create a customer group and assign just one customer to it, and then set prices for that group.

You can set a % discount for each customer if you wish. This will apply a % discount to the value of all items within the order, excluding shipping, handling and any other costs. This is in addition to any customer group discount applied so care should be taken to not give double-discounts inadvertently.

In Kartris, passwords are hashed for additional security. This means that the raw password is not stored in the database; instead, a function called a 'hash' is used to scramble the password, and this scrambled value is stored. When a customer logs in, the password they give is also scrambled and then compared to the stored scrambled password to make sure they match.

Because the raw password is not stored, the system cannot send the password to the customer as a reminder because the hash is not reversible. Similarly, you cannot find the password of a customer or an admin from the back end, or even by looking directly into the database.

Therefore if a customer loses or forgets their password, it must be reset. There are two ways to do this (1) the store owner can change any customer password from the back end (2) the customer can request a password change from the front end.

In the first case above, you should always be careful when customers request a password change on the telephone or by email that you are absolutely 100% sure that the customer is the genuine owner of the account.

In the second case (online request to change password), the customer will be sent a link to the email address of their account that is valid for a limited period (1 hour) and that will allow them to reset their password.

There is no way for a customer to change their own email address in Kartris. The email address is assumed to be unique, and therefore we use this as the username. To avoid various issues with changing email addresses (including verification of the new account to ensure that its owner accepts the change and the problem of existing accounts), we have made changing email addresses a back-end only feature at present. If a customer needs to change their email address, then their only option is to contact the store owner so that an admin can change it for them.

The Kartris back end will check that the email address is not already in use (you cannot have two accounts with the same email), but it will not check that the owner of the new email address consents to the change (i.e. that the person making the change owns the new account), or that someone requesting the change (by telephone or email) is actually the owner of that account.

For security reasons, you should always be careful when customers request an email address change that you are absolutely 100% sure that the customer is the genuine owner of both email accounts. The best way is to write to both the old and new addresses separately and get a reply from both (a reply that includes your original email text). It is vital that you don't inadvertently hand control of an account to a third party due to lax security procedures. Although they could not access credit card data, they would be able to access personal details such as address and phone number as well as order history.

Most payment gateways have a setting 'AuthorizedOnly'. If checked, this means that only customers whose accounts have the 'Approve for special payments' box checked will see this payment option at checkout. This is most commonly used for payment methods you may want to restrict to trusted customers, such as 'PO_OfflinePayment' (where a customer can order goods without a credit card and the invoice is sent to them for payment later).

If the 'AuthorizedOnly' box for a payment method is not checked, then this payment option is available to all users.

If the 'AuthorizedOnly' box for a payment method is checked, but the user is not approved for special payments, they will not see this option at checkout.

When an account is created, Kartris will store the current language in the account record so that it can be used for any communications later. It is also useful to know the preferred language in case you need to contact a customer about something.

This determines whether the user has requested to become an affiliate or not (they can do this from a link in the 'my account' section on the front end). You can approve an affiliate by giving them a % commission above zero.

Kartris operates a strict 'opt-in' mailing list. This requires not just that someone sign up to the mailing list (including by clicking a link in the 'my account' section or checking a box during checkout), but also that they respond to the confirmation email that is sent automatically, by clicking the link within it.

Over the years that we have produced e-commerce software, some customers have queried the need for the extra confirmation step, as they feel it reduces the number of sign-ups on the list. While it does indeed do this, the reason is clear: to prevent the addition of addresses by people who don't own those addresses (either accidentally or maliciously).

For example, I could sign up an email address of someone with a very similar email address to mine by accident. But I would not then receive the confirmation link, and so could not click it to confirm the address. Consequently, this bad address would not be added to the mailing list.

Your web host will not tolerate you continuing to mail to a list which has generated spam complaints because some addresses turn out to belong to people who were added without their consent, especially once they find it is because you did not confirm addresses properly. In such cases, the whole list is tainted. While 99% of the addresses might be genuine, you have no way of knowing which ones are not, and will have no choice but to discard the whole list and start again using proper opt-in confirmation.

So there is nothing to be gained from not using opt-in confirmation, because it is only a matter of time before you'd be forced to discard a tainted list and start from scratch with it.

The mailing list details are stored for reference, so that if asked by your host, you can provide the sign-up date/time and IP, and confirmation date/time and IP for any email address. You can also provide proof that your system is coded to ensure only confirmed opt-in can be used.

We don't provide any built-in tools to send to the mailing list. Proper mailing list management should use a dedicated mailing program that has the facility to parse bounce messages (as well as remove requests) to determine which email addresses should no longer be contacted.

The mailing list can be exported from Kartris using the 'custom exports' feature - 'Configuration > Database Admin > Data Export > Saved Exports'.

Affiliates are organizations and individuals who refer customers to the store via a specially coded link. In return, the affiliate will be given commission based on the sales generated by those they refer.

You can disable the affiliate system on your site (so visitors cannot see it and sign up to it) with the frontend.users.myaccount.affiliates.enabled config setting.

A customer/user record can be an affiliate if two conditions are met:

  1. The 'IsAffiliate' box is checked – the customer can set this by applying to become an affiliate through the 'my account – affiliate referrals' section, or you can set it manually.

  2. The affiliate commission is set above 0% - this can only be done by a store admin on the back end of Kartris. In this way, each affiliate must be manually approved by an admin before their relationship with the store is confirmed and active.

One approved as an affiliate, a user can see their status change in the 'my account – affiliate referrals' section. They are presented with a link such as:

http://www.demo.xyz/?af=123

The 123 is the customer/user ID number, and can be passed to the home page.

When a new customer follows an affiliates link to a store powered by Kartris, the store sees the affiliate ID and records this in the customer's session. A 'hit' is also recorded, indicating that the link resulted in a customer visiting the site.

If the new customer goes on to make a sale, two things happen.

Firstly, the new customer's record is permanently tagged as 'belonging' to the affiliate who referred them.

Secondly, the affiliate will be credited with commission for this order, which will be the % of the total value of the order minus shipping, and any discounts.

If a new customer's record was tagged as belonging to a certain affiliate as described above, then if the return at any time in the future to make further orders, the affiliate will receive commission on these too.

If an existing customer who does not belong to any affiliate follows a referral link and subsequently makes a purchase on this visit, they will from that point on 'belong to' the affiliate whose link referred them. The affiliate will receive commission for this sale and any future sales made to the same existing customer.

It is not possible for a customer to 'belong' to multiple affiliates. Therefore, a customer who 'belongs' to a certain affiliate will remain as such regardless of whether they follow any other affiliate's links in future.

The original affiliate will receive any commissions on sales to a customer who they referred originally, even if that customer has followed another affiliate link on subsequent visits.

This is to ensure that affiliates cannot be 'poached' later to deny the original affiliate credit for a customer they referred.

A store owner may have external advertising or links that contribute traffic to his or her site. Advertising networks such as Google Adsense provide fairly detailed information on click-throughs, and even conversions when coupled with Google Analytics. However, sponsored links or forums or blogs may harder to track.

It is therefore possible to use the affiliate system to track such links, but setting up each link as a separate affiliate. This will require either using bogus email addresses, or setting up multiple new addresses. But it will mean that you can then ask your partners to use a specific URL you give them, so all incoming traffic, and the sales generated can be monitored.

Affiliates can view both hits and sales that resulted from their referrals from the 'my account – affiliate referrals' section on the front end.

Store admins can view similar information by going to 'Affiliates > Affiliate Stats'.

Payment information to the affiliate can be viewed from the 'Payments' link from the customer record in the customer listing. This will show the affiliate's total commission earned, and the value of any payments made to them.

Any commissions earned that have not been paid yet will be listed. If you pay a commission (or issue a coupon for it instead, if your terms are to pay commissions as discount coupons instead of as cash), you can check the box next to the commissions paid and click the 'Set as Paid' button. A payment for the total amount will appear below, while the commission records will disappear. If you make a mistake, or cancel a coupon/payment, just select 'Mark as Unpaid', and the commissions will be unpaid again.

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