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Shopping Cart Software Tutorial - Affiliate Program

Before you start an affiliate program, be sure to speak with an accountant/CPA and attorney to ensure you understand which local laws (tax related and others) apply to affiliate programs and Tier 2 affiliate programs in your area.

An affiliate program will allow you to have people advertise your website (using banners, text links and so on) and when they send a person to your site who places an order, you can pay them a commission.

You can also simply pay them for each person they send to your site (whether they order or not).

A 'Tier 2' affiliate program allows you to have an affiliate (say person A) send new potential affiliates (say person B) to your web site and have them sign up as affiliates. Then, at the end of the month (when commission are calculated) person A would get a percentage of affiliate B's commission as their own commission.

To start an affiliate program, enter the 'shopping cart' module in the control panel and select 'Affiliate Program' and configure your new affiliate program.

Several files will be installed on your account when activating this feature. You can modify several of these files to make the affiliate pages blend in with the look/layout of your site.

Three files are installed in your main web directory :

FilenamePurpose
newagent.htmlnew affiliates go here to sign up
viewagent.htmlaffiliates go here to check real time stats
lostagent.htmlaffiliates go here in case they lost their password

Numerous files are installed in your /merchants directory :

FilenamePurpose
affiliates.header.htmlheader file for the below .html files
affiliates.footer.htmlfooter file for the below .html files
affiliates.new.htmlpage new affiliates see after signing up
affiliates.approval.htmlpage for non-automated application approval
affiliates.missing.htmlshown if required fields are not filled out
affiliates.invalid.htmlshown if login info for stats is incorrect
affiliates.notfound.htmlshown if affiliate ID is not found (stats)
affiliates.report.htmlthe actual stats page
affiliates.lost.htmlpage shown after lostagent.html
affiliates.letter.txttext for email sent to new affiliates

Files affiliates.new.html, affiliates.report.html and affiliates.letter.txt have special codes in them which allow you to define which information is included in the new signup screen/email and the stats page.

The codes are as follows (each represents affiliate info, each starting with the | character):

CodePurpose
|aAffiliate ID
|bName
|cAddress
|dEmail Address
|eCustom Field 1
|fCustom Field 2
|gCustom Field 3
|hVisitors sent to your site since signup
|iNumber of orders placed which they sent to you since signup
|jTotal sales volume created by that affiliate since signup
|kTotal commission amount since signup
|lMonth-to-date visitors sent to your site by this affiliate
|mMonth-to-date orders sent to your site by this affiliate
|nMonth-to-date total sales amount sent to your site by this affiliate
|oMonth-to-date commission amount for this affiliate
|pPassword
|qCommission earned (but below minimum for that month) and not yet paid

The three custom fields have no pre-defined meaning, you can use them to hold the affiliate information of your choice (phone number and such). If you do not need these custom affiliate fields, simply remove the references to them in those files.

Information (URL's) on how affiliates can send traffic to your site can be found in the affiliates.new.html and affiliates.letter.txt files. Affiliates send visitors to :

http://www.your_domain.com/agent.cgi?agent=AGENTID

the 'AGENTID' would be replaced with the actual affiliate/agent ID. As a default, this will then bring up your main page on your site. If you wish to specify a different page :

http://www.your_domain_.com/agent.cgi?agent=AGENTID&page=page.html

the 'AGENTID' would be replaced with the actual affiliate/agent ID and page.html would be replaced with the page you want visitors to see.

Please note that the affiliate program is defined for an entire account and not per shopping cart merchant. This has the advantage of having affiliates that can generate traffic/earn commissions for all shopping cart merchants on an entire site.

In short, to start using the affiliate program software, configure the program settings, customize the .html (and .txt) files and your program (shopping cart) is ready to go.

When using the 'Generic Checkout' method, the agent responsible for an order will be listed on the email with the order information (if no affiliate is responsible for this order, no such information will be included). When using other secure server methods, use the 'View Orders' module to see if an affiliate was responsible for this order (bottom of individual order info page).

At the end of each 'commission cycle' (one month or longer) you should run reporting to see which affiliates are to be paid. On the 1st or 15th of each month (for example), select 'Reporting' and click the button. This will give you the information on affiliates who have earned a commission higher than the 'Minimum Payment Amount' and general stats.

If you see no affiliate info when running reporting, this simply means no affiliates earned enough commissions to issue payment for that commission cycle.

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