Yesterday I was writing about the drawbacks to affiliate programs. Today I had a couple more thoughts. Some of the affiliate partners may not have a sophisticated application that allows you to sell the products yourself. Most affiliates simply provide you with unique tracking URLs and they calculate your commissions based on the referrals you provided. Others may actually provide APIs and developer keys to facilitate the sale through your site. However, fulfilling the order may take place through the partner website. To me, it seems very confusing from a customer standpoint if your visitors purchase through your site and are redirected to another different site to finish the transaction. In order to coordinate multiple partnerships into one site is no easy task because every vendor does things differently. My honest advice, if this were my business, would be to simplify it as much as possible. Coordinating multiple vendors in one shopping cart could potentially be a very expensive and frustrating experience because no two sites are coded the same way, or even use the same language.
Let’s look at it this way…I’m guessing that you’ve made the unconscious decision to only work with vendors that have websites written in English. Right. It would be silly to even think about sending your customers from your site to one that is in Korean. Well, the same can be true if your site is written in php and another one uses asp. Getting the two to talk is a challenge. That’s why most affiliate marketers just sell the customer enough to get them to click through to the affiliate partner’s site and cross their fingers, hoping that the transaction goes smoothly from there. Of course, this is the drawback that I mentioned yesterday that makes me a little leery of working with affiliate partners.
Unfortunately, it’s really a double-edged sword. You keep all the control and pay more on the front end to have the transactions on your site (provided your partners can do that) or you send your visitors to the other person’s site and hope that they have high conversions on their site.
Frankly, I’d develop a site with a great product that you either create or resell. Then you don’t have to rely on others and you don’t have to make your site talk with theirs. I can’t underscore what a nightmare the later route can be. What if you spend $20,000 making your site talk with theirs, and then they go out of business? Or what if they change their commission structure so it’s no longer profitable? You don’t want to have too much invested in any one affiliate partner or you cannot exit the relationship.
I could go on and on, but I won’t.