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Actinic FAQ

  1. What is Actinic Catalog?
  2. What is Actinic Business?
  3. How do Actinic Catalog and Actinic Business work?
  4. What do I need to use Actinic Catalog or Business?
  5. How do I get my product information into Actinic Catalog or Business?
  6. Can I link dynamically to an external database or spreadsheet?
  7. How can I offer a range of choices with each product?
  8. How is my online catalog generated?
  9. Is Actinic software secure?
  10. How do customers place orders at the web site?
  11. How can I keep an eye on my stock levels?
  12. How can I change the appearance of Actinic Catalog?
  13. Can I integrate Actinic Catalog with my existing web site?
  14. How can I change all the text in my site?
  15. How will I know if an order is waiting at my website?
  16. How can I make sure my customers are charged the right amount of shipping and tax?
  17. Can I integrate Actinic Catalog with any of my accounts packages?
  18. Why not just email the orders straight to me?
  19. How can I set up customer accounts in Actinic Business?
  20. How does Actinic Business handle different pricing structures?
  21. Will my Actinic ecommerce site be search engine friendly?
  1. What is Actinic Catalog?
  2. Actinic Catalog is a complete ecommerce solution developed specifically for the small to medium business, incorporating everything you need to set up and run an ecommerce site. Catalog includes the following features

    • Vendor defined terms and conditions
    • Shipping charge calculations based on quantity, order value or weight
    • Separate handling charges
    • Pricing in any two currencies
    • Unlimited tax rates
    • Automatic tax calculations based on geography
    • Display tax-inclusive or tax-exclusive prices, or both
    • Customers can receive email confirmation of order
    • Use of cookie to remember customer details
    • Offline, PC based, order processing after securly downloading orders
    • Email alert when a batch of orders is waiting
    • Manual adjustments of order details
    • Back-ordering enables processing and shipping of a single order as part of orders
    • Print packing lists and invoices
    • Export orders as CSV file, import product data via CSV file
    • Production of data entry reports and credit card schedule
    • Recording of payments and tracking against orders
    • High speed indexed searching on products and price bands, including multiple words
    • Supports up to 10,000 catalog items
    • Supports all conventional currencies
    • Supports integrated Java-based 128-bit encryption and SSL
    • Supports all market-leading payment gateways
    • Comprehensive snapshot of site backup
    • Web site editor with custom design features: themes, colorizing, custom themes, custom field names and messages

  3. What is Actinic Business?
  4. Actinic Business offers all the features of Actinic Catalog, with additional functionality designed to support special customer needs.

    • Password protected customer accounts
    • Multiple unlimited addresses and buyers per customer
    • Customer-specific pricing, discount options and credit restrictions
    • Quantiy based discounts
    • Dynamic (ODBC) linking to external databases and spreadsheets
    • Suppliers can easily manage customers who buy from them
    • Manage a reseller network for resellers of your products and services

  5. How do Actinic Catalog and Actinic Business work?
    • Actinic Catalog and Actinic Business each comprise two components:

      • An easy-to-use Windows program that installs on your PC. This creates your commerce site and downloads and processes your orders
      • A set of scripts which are automatically installed at your Web site and provide the features of an electronic shopping cart and ordering system

  6. What do I need to use Actinic Catalog or Business?
    • Actinic Catalog or Business requires:
      • a Pentium PC.
      • Windows 95, 98, 2000 or NT 4.0.
      • minimum 32MB of RAM
      • minimum 60MB of free disk space.
      • Internet access.

      At the web site, Actinic Catalog or Business requires a standard commercial web package including:

      • at least 5MB of web space (depending on the size of the catalog).
      • CGI-bin with Perl 5 or later.
      • FTP Access to the CGI-bin

  7. How do I get my product information into Actinic Catalog or Business?
    • If you already have a list of products in electronic format, this data can be easily imported via the import wizard. Alternatively, you can manually enter the information via the Windows user interface.

      Entering product information is simple. All that is required is to enter a part number and name, a description, price and VAT treatment. You can also link an image file with the product, and even put a hyperlink in the product description to a page of more in-depth information.

  8. Can I link dynamically to an external database or spreadsheet?
    • Actinic Business offers dynamic linking to an external data source as a third option. This allows you to build your product range in any application and pull your data into Actinic Business to publish it.

  9. How can I offer a range of choices with each product?
    • Actinic Catalog and Actinic Business allow you to configure attributes and choices for each product in the online catalog. For instance, you can have a t-shirt that is available in both a range of sizes and a range of colours. It is also possible to make each combination of choices a different price.

      You can associate product choices with other products in the online catalog. For example, a customer can assemble a PC online by selecting from a variety of available components such as memory, monitors and hard disk space.

  10. How is my online catalog generated?
    • Actinic software generates your commerce site as a set of normal HTML pages. The pages are created from three components:

      • Information provided by the vendor about names, description and prices of products together with information on terms and conditions in the company. The vendor also provides information about the colours to be used in the catalog (eg background colour, font colour etc)
      • Images, such as navigation buttons and product images, which are used in the catalog
      • Templates which are used to create the layout of each part of the online catalog


      When you upload your catalog, the complete HTML pages are generated on the desktop according to the specifications of the above three groups of components. These are then automatically sent to the web site. Once complete, your commerce site is open for business.

  11. Is Actinic software secure?
    • Yes. Actinic Catalog and Actinic Business both use 128-bit encryption to safely encrypt credit card information. This means that only the purchaser and vendor can read customers' credit card information. The vendor can process the credit card numbers in the normal way.

      Alternatively, Actinic Catalog and Actinic Business can be integrated with a secure server (SSL) or a number of Payment Service Providers (who take credit card numbers securely and carry out the transactions online).

      For more information about Actinic's security, see the Actinic Security White Paper.

  12. How do customers place orders at the web site?
    • Customers can visit and browse through the online catalog. If a customer sees a product they wish to purchase then they click on the 'Add to Shopping Cart' button. The online catalog then registers which product this customer has selected and the customer is shown an electronic 'shopping cart' that contains their product. This shopping cart is carried with them while they are visiting the site and it goes with them into the checkout.

  13. How can I keep an eye on my stock levels?
    • Actinic's stock monitoring feature allows you to monitor each product line individually, warning you as product levels run low and automatically suspending online ordering when necessary. You are able to print off reports detailing stock levels to help you with re-ordering stock items in plenty of time to fulfill your orders.

  14. How can I change the appearance of Actinic Catalog?
    • As with all good software, Actinic Catalog and Actinic Business can be customised, providing a look and feel that meets your company's requirements and style sheets. The product is shipped with dozens of pre-designed themes and colour schemes that can be combined and customised. This give you access to literally thousands of different design looks at the click of a button.

      When your catalog is ready to be transferred to your web site, it is generated as a series of 'HTML template' files. These files are installed in the 'Site 1' (or equivalent) directory and can be accessed by viewing the 'Template Manager'. By changing these files you can change the appearance of your catalog and make it look just as you wish, while still enabling you to add, change or delete product and other details through the Actinic application.

      Alternatively, many professional web designers can design a custom site to match your requirements and budget. Please contact Actinic or look on our web site for further details.

  15. Can I integrate Actinic Catalog with my existing web site?
    • Online catalogs cannot be exclusively maintained using Microsoft FrontPage, or similar web design applications. However, because Actinic software creates static HTML pages, any part of your online catalog can be easily linked to your FrontPage site using normal hyperlinks. Actinic's extensive design options allow you to make sure that the look and feel of your online catalog is fully integrated with the rest of your site.

  16. How can I change all the text in my site?
    • Using Display Options, you have the ability to change every bit of text in the website.

      This is useful if you wish to change the site to another language.

      Use the search facility in the dialogue to locate the precise piece of text you want to edit.

  17. How will I know if an order is waiting at my website?
    • You will be automatically notified via email that you have an order waiting.

      The orders can then be downloaded at the most convenient time for you.

  18. How can I make sure my customers are charged the right amount of shipping and tax?
    • Actinic Catalog and Actinic Business have sophisticated shipping and tax calculation systems built into the program. You can set up shipping zones and classes to ensure that your customers will only be offered the most appropriate shipping methods for them. There is also a location based tax calculator that allows you to configure multiple tax rates and bands. This ensures that your customers will be charged correctly.

      Actinic Catalog and Actinic Business will allow you to display tax inclusive prices, tax exclusive prices or both. You also have the option of choosing a second currency for displaying prices at your site

  19. Can I integrate Actinic Catalog with any of my accounts packages?
    • Using Actinic's 'Export' facility, information about contacts, products ordered, product details etc can be exported as a delimited text file and imported into other applications.

      Actinic software uses an Access-style database to store information, which can be manually edited using Microsoft Access.

      However, it is recommended that you do not adjust or integrate with this file directly as it can cause problems with your Actinic application.

  20. Why not just email the orders straight to me?
    • There are several reasons why we think this is a bad idea.

      • Reliability: you will need access to a mail server in order to receive orders, and then if the server goes down for any reason, you will lose all record of the order
      • Security: most email travels over the Internet in plain text and could be read by anyone
      • Convenience: Actinic's method of downloading orders means that you are in control of how and when orders are received and processed.

  21. How can I set up customer accounts in Actinic Business?
    • With Actinic Business you can set up customer accounts that allow your regular customers to log into your online catalog with a username and password. Your customers will be presented with a personalised online shopping experience which features their own prices, depending on what price schedule they belong to, and Actinic Business will also remember their name and address information. When setting up a customer account you can specify a range of address information, create credit limits for different buyers and choose whether you want the account administrator to be informed via email of every purchase made by their buyers on the site.

  22. How does Actinic Business handle different pricing structures?
    • Actinic Business allows you to set up a range of price schedules and then choose which customer accounts you wish to belong to which price schedules. Also, Actinic Business can allow you to create quantity-based discounts on each product line, allowing a lower unit price if a customer orders a higher quantity.

  23. Will my Actinic ecommerce site be search engine friendly?
    • Actinic's software differs from ecommerce solutions which generate web pages on the fly from an underlying database. Actinic's strategy is to generate the entire shop site on the merchant's PC, and then upload it to the web server in the form of static HTML pages. In this way all the text on every page in the site, including product names and descriptions, is made visible to the search engines.

      What this means is that a web search for, say, running shoes, will find an Actinic site which is selling them, whereas a site based on a dynamic database is unlikely to show up.

      Unique meta tag descriptions and keywords can be easily entered for every page on the site, making it easy to produce a search engine friendly site without without the risk of accidental spamming.

      Addition of home page links on every page, the inclusion of contact information, and support for Alt tags for images are other features which are liked by search engines and directories. Good ecommerce software such as Actinic provides support for them all.