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Last year, an estimated 1.66 billion people worldwide purchased goods online. Yet, online sales account for less than 10 percent of all retail sales. These statistics should excite online business owners, salespeople, and marketers because of the growth potential of online retail. Affiliate marketers are in an excellent position to promote and support e-commerce developments. One company that appeals to many publishers is eBay.
eBay is an e-commerce company that connects buyers and sellers globally. They offer an online auction model in which users can purchase products by bidding and buying at set prices. Featured product categories include fashion, home accessories, electronics, motors, collectibles, antiques, visual art, stationery, electronics, and more. eBay operates in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australasia. Their e-commerce ecosystem includes specialty websites like Shopping.com, StubHub, Gumtree, Kijiji, and Vivanuncios. A fun fact about eBay is that they previously owned PayPal and Skype.
- Founded by Pierre Omidyar in 1995
- Headquarters: San Jose, California, USA
- Online auction and “Buy It Now” options
- 1 billion+ live listings
- 175 million active buyers in 190 markets
- Gross merchandise volume (GMV) of $90 billion
- A top ten global retail brand
- In the United States, a TV, video, or home audio item is purchased every three seconds
eBay Affiliate Program
eBay’s affiliate marketing program operates as the eBay Partner Network (EPN). EPN has been around since the late 90s making it one of the first affiliate programs alongside Amazon Associates. Let’s review the pros and cons of the program.
eBay is a top online destination, and they have something for everyone. There are millions of listings across various categories. There are localized websites for the United States, Germany, France, Canada, and Australia. In fact, 60 percent of eBay’s revenue comes from international sites.
EPN is easy to join. If you have an eBay account, you can join their affiliate program by signing in and entering a few additional pieces of information.
EPN has a generous commission structure of 50 to 70 percent depending on the product category (see “Rate Card“). You can get an additional bonus equal to 100 percent (1x) of your base earnings when qualifying transactions are made by new buyers or reactivated buyers who have not purchased from eBay in the prior 12 months.
eBay provides a robust set of affiliate marketing tools. Their “smart suite” optimizes link placement for automation and quickness. Smart Placements’ personalize display ads based on a customer’s browsing history. Smart Share is a Chrome extension to share links on Facebook and Pinterest. Deep linking is available through a bookmarklet tool and link generator. For example, you can link to search results, trends, events, daily deals, and more. RSS feeds, APIs, and product feeds are available too.
Affiliates can create custom banners. You can choose the ad layout, theme, and content for your banner then preview it before adding it to your site. Standard banners are also available.
Reports and analytics are straightforward and foolproof. EPN’s reporting dashboard provides all the pertinent details affiliates want such as marketplace source, traffic type, impressions, clicks, earnings, and conversion rates.
EPN’s 24-hour cookie is a major drawback. Affiliates get paid for “qualifying transactions.” A qualifying transaction occurs when (1) an end user makes a purchase within 24 hours after clicking your link for a “Buy It Now” item, or (2) a user places a bid on an auction item within 24 hours of clicking your link and wins that auction within ten days. A 24-hour cookie is a disadvantage because publishers must rely on customers to make purchases within that period to get credit. Alternatively, many affiliate programs have 30-day cookies and conversion periods. I typically don’t join or prioritize programs with cookies of less than 30 days.
Affiliates can’t access every marketplace, only those in North America and Europe. eBay is available in many Latin American and Asian countries, but they’re not accessible in EPN. Also, it would be beneficial to have access to all of eBay’s properties through one portal.
Online Retail Affiliate Programs
If eBay’s program isn’t to your satisfaction, you can capitalize on other retail affiliate programs. Merchants typically list their affiliate programs in menus found at the top or bottom of pages.
- Amazon Associates – Up to a 10% commission
Amazon is an e-commerce giant and the second largest retailer worldwide. Choose from over a million products to advertise to your visitors. Whether you have an extensive network, content site or blog, Amazon provides numerous tools to meet your advertising needs and helps you monetize your site. Learn about the Amazon affiliate program.
- Best Buy – Up to 6%
Best Buy is a retailer of technology products, services, and solutions in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. They sell consumer electronics, computers and accessories, entertainment products, and more. Learn about the Best Buy affiliate program.
- Bonanza – 6%
Bonanza is a fast-growing online marketplace of over 15 million items where sellers offer everything from isometric sunglasses to celebrity-branded perfume. Merchants use their platform to open stores spanning all product categories. Learn about the Bonanza affiliate program.
- Etsy – 5%
Etsy is a marketplace for buying and selling handmade and vintage items. Thirty million buyers around the world shop for unique items on their site and mobile application. Product categories include clothing, accessories, jewelry, craft supplies, tools, home, living, infants, and more. Learn about the Etsy affiliate program.
- The Home Depot – Up to 8%
The Home Depot is the largest home improvement retailer in the United States. They sell tools, construction products, home decor, garden accessories, raw materials, and services. Learn about the Home Depot affiliate program.
- Lowe’s – Up to 2%
Lowe’s is a home improvement retailer in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. It offers a line of products for maintenance, repair, remodeling, and decorating. They sell home improvement products in various categories. Learn about the Lowe’s affiliate program.
- Overstock – Up to 6%
Overstock sells a broad range of products at low prices including furniture, rugs, bedding, electronics, clothing, and jewelry. Their international business offers products to customers outside the United States using third-party logistics providers. Learn about the Overstock affiliate program.
- QVC – Up to 4%
QVC markets and sells various consumer products through televised shopping programs, the internet, and mobile applications. They promote home decor, beauty, apparel, jewelry, accessory, and electronics products. Learn about the QVC affiliate program.
- Staples – Up to 5%
Staples sells office supplies, computers, phones, accessories, printer ink, furniture, office chairs, cleaning supplies, copy and print services, coffee makers, snacks, and more. Learn about the Staple affiliate program.
- Target – Up to 8%
Target is the second largest department store retailer in the United States, behind Walmart. Target.com owns and oversees the company’s e-commerce initiatives, such as the Target.com domain. They offer a wide variety of products and services in many categories. Learn about the Target affiliate program.
- Walmart – Up to 4%
Walmart is a multinational retail corporation that operates a chain of discount department and grocery stores. They are the largest retailer in the world followed by Amazon, CSV, and Alibaba. Learn about the Walmart affiliate program.
- AliExpress – Up to 10%
On AliExpress, buyers from more than 200 countries and regions order items in bulk or one at a time at wholesale prices. They feature 100 million products supplied by more than 200,000 Chinese exporters and manufacturers. Learn about the AliExpress affiliate program.
- Flipkart – Up to 10%
Flipkart is India’s largest e-commerce marketplace with a customer base of over 100 million. They sell millions of products across 80+ categories including smartphones, books, media, consumer electronics, furniture, fashion, and lifestyle. Learn about the Flipkart affiliate program.
- Joybuy & JD – Up to 5%
Joybuy is the official JD.com global online shopping site. They sell a wide selection of authentic, high-quality Chinese products at competitive prices and deliver them to customers. JD.com is one of China’s largest retailers. Learn about the Joybuy and JD affiliate programs.
- Jumia – Up to 11%
Jumia has a presence in more than 20 African countries. Their ecosystem includes more than 100 online and mobile marketplaces and classifieds. Customers can peruse an extensive assortment of affordable, high-quality products for fashion, consumer electronics, home appliances, and beauty. Learn about the Jumia affiliate program.
- Rakuten – Up to 5.5%
Rakuten is the largest e-commerce company in Japan and the third largest e-commerce marketplace globally. They sell electronics, clothing, shoes, beauty, office supplies, books, automotive parts, and more. Learn about the Rakuten affiliate program.
eBay is a popular online shopping destination with many product and service categories, which is fantastic for affiliates. While EPN pays attractive commissions, the 24-hour conversion period is too limiting for me to recommend this program. Affiliates should look at other programs to join.