Introduction to Customer Accounts
  Last Edited - 04/26/2013 8:35am PDT
  Category Path - Shopping Cart Software Components > Administration Area > Customers > FAQs & Tutorials
Customers are what keep an online store humming along. Therefore, it's important to understand how the shopping cart software creates Customer Accounts and the options that each type of Customer Account provides. This tutorial will cover:
  • What constitutes a Customer Account
  • How a Customer Account is created
  • The types of Customer Accounts that are available
What is a Customer Account?

A customer account is a record that is saved in the customer database table. Any user that has a corresponding record in this database table is considered to have a Customer Account.

All of the Customer Accounts that have been created in a store can be viewed on the Search Customers page in the store's Administration Area.

affiliates vs. customers
In previous versions of Modular Merchant, affiliates and customers were two different types of users. However, as of MMv4, affiliates are customers whose account has its "Is this customer also an affiliate" option set to "Yes".

There's no longer a separate affiliate and customer database table. They're now merged into one and the same.
What content must a Customer Account contain?

At a minimum, a Customer Account must have an email address associated with it. That's it. Everything else, such as the customer's name or password, is optional. (A Customer Account without a password is called a "passive" Customer Account. More information on passive Customer Accounts is included further below.)

Every Customer Account must have a unique email address.
When is a Customer Account created?

A customer account can be created one of two ways:
  1. A store Admin may add a customer account by using the Customer Editor within the store's Administration Area.
  2. Any time a form field titled email is submitted on a storefront page, the shopping cart software will attempt to create a Customer Account with the submitted email address. If a Customer Account with that email address already exists, the software will attempt to update it, if the user submitting the data has the authority to do so.
Types of Customer Accounts

There are two types of Customer Accounts:
  1. Standard Customer Accounts
    A standard Customer Account has a password associated with it. The customer may use their email address and password to log in to the storefront's Customer Account Area to review and edit their account's information.
    If a customer with a standard Customer Account attempts to place an order using the account, they must first enter their account's password to log in. If the customer enters the wrong password, an error will be displayed and they will not be able to complete the order using that email address until they have successfully logged in.
  2. Passive Customer Accounts
    A passive Customer Account has no password associated with it. The customer may not log in to the storefront's Customer Account Area to review and edit their account's information. As far as the customer is concerned, they do not have a Customer Account.
    A customer with a passive Customer Account may still place orders using the email address associated with the passive Customer Account. There is no need for the customer to log in during the checkout process.
    If the customer enters a password during the checkout process, then the password will become associated with it, and they will become a standard Customer Account.
    If the customer places an order and continues not to add a password, then they will remain a passive Customer Account.
Creating a Customer Registration form

Since the store's checkout form includes an email field, a customer's account is either created or updated every time an order is placed in the storefront. However, it's possible to add a form that creates Customer Accounts to any page of your store. (The form could even be located on another website.) This allows Customer Accounts to be created without requiring the user to first place an order.

A customer registration form must contain, at a minimum, a form field named email. The form may also contain form fields for the customers name, address, phone number, etc. Any form field used during the checkout process can be included in a customer registration form.

In order to create the Customer Account, the registration form must submit its data to a storefront page (ie: a web page generated by the shopping cart software.) Any storefront page will do.
In the example below, the store's home page, index.php, is used.

sample customer registration form
Below is an example of a form that could be located either within the storefront or on a remote website. This form submits its data to a page in the storefront, creating a customer account.

<form action="" method="post">
   Email: <input name="email" type="text" size="50" value="" />
   <input type="submit" name="submit" value="Create a Customer Account" />

adding more form fields
A list of the fields that are available for use in a customer registration form can be found by viewing the source code of checkout page in your storefront.

Additionally, if the customer registration form is included in a web page generated by the shopping cart software, then QuickCode Tags can be used to generate the fields in the form. This can help assure that the correct form field names are used. A list of all of the available QuickCode Tags is located in the online QuickCode Glossary.
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