Try Teamwork: Internet Partnerships
Putting aside for a moment the criticisms about its overall business model, Amazon.com offers numerous lessons for Web retailers—namely, the inherent beauty of Internet partnerships.
Indeed, Amazon set the standard for this mainstay in the e-commerce world, and numerous catalogers have adopted these principles to great success.
In fact, 10 percent of all Internet sales and 3 to 5 percent of all online catalog Web sales come through affiliate sites—and these numbers are rising rapidly, noted two consultants at the recent Direct Marketing Association Annual conference in Chicago. In their seminar entitled “Internet Partnerships: Understanding the Key to Catalog Growth,” John Deneen, president of SiteForm, and Mark Swedlund, partner of W.A. Dean and Associates, offered case studies and effective strategies for forging profitable partnerships.
Affiliate deals are the simplest forms of Internet partnerships, says John Deneen. Partner companies simply put one another’s links on their Web sites, and offer commissions to one another—usually 5 to 15 percent—if customers who come through those links buy.
For example, Amazon offers other Web retailers a 5-percent commission on a sale if the customer came to the Amazon home page from another site. But if the affiliate site linked directly to one particular book on Amazon’s site and the customer buys that book, Amazon shells out a 15-percent commission, says Deneen.
Another example: Bedding and home furnishings cataloger Domestications, a Hanover title, offers on its site a link to ArtSelect.com, which sells custom-framed prints and other wall art. Shoppers who want to buy wall art to match their new bedspreads simply click on the ArtSelect link, which takes them to a page that’s still under Domestications’ banner, but is actually on ArtSelect’s Web site. Domestications offers affiliates an 8-percent commission.
“Simple affiliate programs such as these are the easiest to set up and maintain,” Swedlund says.