Merchant FAQ
Home > Merchant FAQ   Updated: 19-Feb-2008

Merchant FAQ

Browse Merchant FAQ
  1. Introduction
  2. Merchant Testimonials
  3. Merchant Criteria
  4. Datafeed Guidelines
  1. Affiliate Program Guidelines
  2. Introduction to DySE
  3. Contact us


Our latest web server scripts software is based on our DySE™ ("Dynamic Store Engine") scripting technology. See: Introduction to DySE. DySE makes it possible for an affiliate to very quickly and very easily create a website based on a merchant's datafeed. No programming and no database experience is required. All DySE scripts install and run the same way thus reducing the webmaster's learning curve.

We have been offering scripts since about the year 2000. We work with leading merchants including,, and ohters.

In association with:

Merchant Testimonials:

"...[Associate Engine] script is a truly professional product, and it is just one of a number of tools that [] promotes to Associates on [its] Web site. If you want to use an application offered by a real business with a specific mission to help Associates, the [Associate Engine] script is the way to go."

  --, Inc.

"I am really impressed with your program - you are really doing a great job with the scripts and your communications to the user community."

  -- Scott Ekman - Director of Internet Marketing -

Merchant Criteria:

If you are a merchant and are interested in having us create a script that works with your affiliate program, please read the following points then contact us. We give preference to merchants that meet the following criteria.

  1. You should be offering at least 100 different products for sale (if you have less than 100 products, we may still work with you depending upon your products).

  2. You must already have an affiliate program in place (either in-house, or at, or at /, or at, or other).

  3. You must provide your affiliates with a .csv or .txt datafeed file (or similar one-record-per-line file format). See "Datafeed Guidelines" below. If your product selection is too large for a datafeed file (e.g.: more than 1/4 million products), we can work with a live XML http API (we do that with's XML-based AWS).

  4. If your affiliate program is 2-tier:

    1. You must provide us with a sub-affiliate commission (typically at least 3% of the product sale price). This can be either an integral part of your affiliate program or manually calculated by you specifically for us. This sub-affiliate commission pays for script development and support to those affiliates using the script. It also allows us to offer the script for free thus leading to greater acceptance by affiliates to use the script.

    2. Your affiliate management system should provide an online report showing the ID's of the sub-affiliates under our affiliate account. KowaBunga/Kolimbo/MYAP supports this feature (you have to request KowaBunga/Kolimbo to activate this feature).

  5. If your affiliate program is 1-tier:

    The affiliate's ID will appear in links 75% of the time on average, and our own affiliate ID will appear in links 25% of the time on average. Our script automatically takes care of inserting the appropriate affiliate ID in the links. You as the merchant do not have to do anything special at your end. We would merely be another one of your affiliates.

This is what we will do:

  1. We will create the script (it remains our property), and offer technical support via email and via our online discussion forum.

  2. We will promote the script to the webmasters that use our other scripts.

Datafeed Guidelines:

  1. One-record-per-row:
    Your datafeed must be one-record-per-row. All rows must have the same number of fields; if a field is empty, it must still be present. We can work with any of the following field delimiters:

    1. comma "," using CSV format
    2. vertical bar pipe "|"
    3. tab

  2. Unchanging field order:
    Do not change the order of fields in your datafeed when you update your datafeed. Our scripts assume that the field order is constant. A header row (i.e.: a row with column names) is required but it is completely ignored, that is, the first line in the file is always skipped. The header row merely makes it possible for programmers to understand the meaning of each column.

    The order of the fields does not matter; you can order the fields in whatever way you see fit. But the order must not change.

    See "Typical fields" point below.

  3. Downloadable via http:// URL:
    Your datafeed should be downloadable via an http:// URL that is not password protected. The script can auto-download your latest datafeed but the URL must not be password protected (no affiliate login required). The URL can be an unpublicised URL; and, we can set up our script to not disclose the URL that the datafeed is being downloaded from.

  4. Uncompressed file (not .zip):
    Your datafeed file should be available uncompressed (not .zip) (you can also have a .zip version for non-script webmasters who want a .zip). The script can auto-download your datafeed but only if it is not compressed; .zip file uncompression routines are not a standard part of web servers so we cannot and do not use them. If only .zip is available, the script cannot auto-download the datafeed and the webmaster will have to manually download the .zip file, uncompress it, and upload the uncompressed datafeed to their server -- this solution is time consuming for webmasters and we do not recommend it. We strongly recommend that make an uncompressed datafeed available. Such availability also makes it possible for the script to be run unattended at regular intervals via a cronjob.

  5. Categories and sub-categories:
    Products should be organized into categories (and sub-categories) as they are on the merchant's website. Category hierarchy should be indicated in the category field of the datafeed using ">", such as: "DVD's > Comedy > Slapstick". The spaces on either side of the ">" are optional and you can omit them to save space in the datafeed.

    If a product is located in more than one category, then use a comma "," between each location, such as: "DVD's > Comedy > Slapstick, DVD's > Comedy Stars > Charlie Chaplin". If you want to use a semi-colon ";" as a separator then you must include a space before and after the semi-colon " ; " since a semi-colon without spaces can be confusing if the category names contain HTML encoded characters, such as "é" (i.e.: é). Note: If your category names contain commas (e.g.: "Books, CD's and Videos") then use some other unique character (e.g.: "~") or a combination of characters (e.g.: "//") to separate category locations. Or you could use the bar-character ("|") as the category separator, but only if you are not already using "|" as the field separator.

  6. HTML in description field:
    You can include HTML in the product's description field. But do not include a link or text such as "Click here to see our latest offer". Such a "click here" link will be confusing to the potential customer since the page will already have a "buy" text or graphic link on it.

  7. UTF-8 encoded characters:
    UTF-8 encoded characters are permitted in any field.

  8. Typical fields:
    Fields in a typical datafeed are: (add/remove fields as you see fit; not in any particular order)

    1. SKU (Stock Keeping Unit). Unique product ID. Each SKU value must appear only once in the datafeed. Must not change when you update the datafeed.

    2. Product name. This field should be brief yet descriptive. Example, "Binder - 2 inch" and "Binder - 1.5 inch" rather than just "Binder" in the case that you have several "Binder" products available.

    3. Product description. May contain HTML.

    4. Price. Price that the customer pays. "$" and cents are optional; should not include currency (e.g.: USD, CAD, EUR, BGP, etc.) as part of the price field. If currency is not always USD, then have another field that specifies currency. Another field for MSRP retail price is optional (if this field is present then savings in terms of amount and % will be automatically calculated).

    5. "Buy" URL. URL used in "Click here to buy" link to buy the product. Should contain some placeholder text (e.g.: "INSERTID") to indicate where the affiliate ID should be inserted, such as: "". If the datafeed does not contain "Buy" URL's and the webmaster is supposed to "roll" their own URL's based on the SKU, then we can make the script build the URL's itself but we prefer "Buy" URL's in the datafeed (with "INSERTID" placeholder text) so that you can change the format of the URL's any time you want.

    6. Image related fields:

      1. image URL
      2. thumbnail URL
      3. image width, image height (optional fields)
      4. thumbnail width, thumbnail height (optional fields)

      The thumbnail should be no larger than 150x150 pixels (smaller is fine). If a product has no image, then the URL should be to a "no image available" graphic on your server or leave the field empty. The URL's should be complete URL's (e.g.: "") rather than just a filename (e.g.: "123.jpg"); if necessary, we can hard-code a URL prefix (e.g.: "") into the script but we prefer complete URL's in the datafeed so that you can change the format of the URL's any time you want.

    7. Category name(s). See "Categories and sub-categories" point above. Use ">" between sub-categories. And, if the product can be in multiple categories, use "," (or "|" or "~" or "//" or some other unique character or combination of characters) between each category location. If you have category information in multiple fields (e.g.: "Super-category", "Category", "Sub-Category"), we can make the script join the fields together into one "category" field.

  9. Optional fields:
    Optional fields in a datafeed are: (add/remove fields as you see fit; not in any particular order)

    1. (optional) Keywords. No HTML. Do not use a 100% identical copy of the description field since that would unnecessarily increase the datafeed size.

    2. (optional) Manufacturer's product ID#.

    3. (optional) UPC, and/or ISBN fields.

    4. (optional) Artist, Author, and/or Publisher fields.

    5. (optional) 1x1 transparent image impression URL.

    6. (optional) "More info" URL. URL of product's detail page. Recommended if the "Buy" URL immediately adds the product to the consumer's shopping cart. Just like the "Buy" URL, this "More info" URL must also contain placeholder text (e.g.: "INSERTID") for the affiliate ID.

    7. (optional) Brand/Manufacturer name. The script can automatically add a category (e.g.: "By Brand > Sony") based on this field so that the consumer can browse by Brand/Manufacturer.

    8. (optional) Brand/Manufacturer's logo URL. Use the next field to link the logo.

    9. (optional) Brand/Manufacturer's URL. Affiliate URL to show products of this brand/manufacturer (at the merchant website). Should contain some placeholder text (e.g.: "INSERTID") to indicate where the affiliate ID should be inserted, such as: "".

Affiliate Program Guidelines:

  1. If your affiliate program is 2-tier: (does not apply to 1-tier affiliate programs)

    Since we offer the script only to our sub-affiliates, we must confirm affiliate ID's with you the affiliate manager before allowing a sub-affiliate full access to our script. The script runs in "demo" mode until enabled with a software key that we would send to the webmaster upon confirmation that the webmaster is in fact one of our sub-affiliates.

    If we can login to our own affiliate account (since we would be an affiliate of you the merchant) and display a list of the ID's of our sub-affiliates then we can do the confirmation ourselves.

    If no such online report is accessible to us (or you cannot add a report specifically for us), then as a webmaster requests full access to our script (they tell us their affiliate ID in the request), we will send an email to you the affiliate manager and ask you to manually confirm that the ID is one of our sub-affiliates. You must reply in a timely manner (5 calendar days or sooner) so we can reply to the webmaster and send their software key. If you delay the confirmation, then the webmaster must wait.

  2. You should have a small logo graphic, e.g.: 88x31, 120x40, 120x60, etc. For use with "In association with".

  3. You should have an affiliate link to your home page.

  4. (optional) You should have an affiliate link to your "Search" or "Advanced Search" page.

  5. (optional) You should have a search form that can be put on the affiliate's website.

  6. (optional) You should have a method of linking to any page at your website (and track the affiliate ID). It is useful to be able to link to your "Contact Us" page, your "FAQ" page, your "Returns Policy" page, etc.

E.&O.E.; © Cusimano.Com Corporation;