Last year, an estimated 1.66 billion people worldwide purchased goods online. Surprisingly, 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 sales potential of online retail. Affiliate marketers are in an excellent position to promote and support e-commerce sales. One company that might suit their activities is eBay.
What Is eBay?
eBay is an e-commerce company that connects millions of buyers and sellers globally. The path they took hasn’t been a fruitful as Amazon, but they’ve surpassed sales of $9B and continue to grow. 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. They operate in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australasia. Their e-commerce ecosystem includes specialty websites like Escrow, Shopping.com, StubHub, Gumtree, Kijiji, and Vivanuncios. A fun fact about eBay is that they previously owned PayPal and Skype.
- Founded in 1995 in San Jose, Calif.
- Online auction and “Buy It Now” options
- 175 million global active buyers
- 1 billion live listings
- Buyers in 190 markets
- Gross merchandise volume (GMV) of $90 billion
- A top ten global retail brand
- In the U.S., A TV, video or home audio item is purchased every three seconds
eBay Affiliate Program
eBay’s affiliate marketing program is called the eBay Partner Network (EPN). EPN has been around since the late 90s making it one of the first affiliate programs alongside Amazon Associates.
Given that success in affiliate marketing is a function of traffic, eBay has you covered. eBay is a top online destination that receives millions of visitors. EPN is easy to join. If you have an eBay account, you can join the program by signing into your account and entering a few additional pieces of information about yourself.
eBay has something for everyone. Their many product and service categories contain over a billion listings across their various marketplaces in the United States and abroad, for example, German, French, Canadian, and Australian websites. Sixty percent of eBay’s revenue derives from international sites.
EPN has a generous commission structure of 50 to 70 percent depending on the product category (see Rate Card). A new or reactivated buyer attracts an additional bonus equal to 100% (1x) of your base earnings when qualifying transactions are made by new buyers or buyers who have not purchased from eBay in the prior 12 months.
eBay provides a robust set of affiliate marketing tools to help affiliates convert. Their “smart suite” optimizes link placement for automation and quickness. Smart Placements’ personalized display ads based on a customer’s browsing history. Smart Share is a Chrome extension to share links on Facebook and Pinterest quickly. Deep linking is available with a bookmarklet tool and link generator to direct traffic to specific pages. 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. Ready-made banners are also available for deployment.
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. Compared to Amazon Associates, EPN’s reporting is more transparent, informative, and user-friendly.
The biggest drawback is EPN’s 24-hour cookie. 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 after clicking your link and wins that auction within ten days. By contrast, many affiliate programs have 30-day conversion windows to credit affiliates for their efforts. A 24-hour cookie disadvantageous because publishers must rely on customers to make purchases within that period, which is unlikely. Customer behavior fundamentals suggest that consumers go through a series of steps before buying. These steps unfold over days and months; not usually minutes and hours. 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 available 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 top online retail affiliate programs.
- 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.
- Bonanza – 6% commission
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% commission
Etsy is a marketplace for buying and selling handmade and vintage items. Users can find products in the categories of clothing, accessories, jewelry, craft supplies, tools, home, living, infants, and more. Thirty million buyers around the world shop for unique items on their site and mobile application. Learn about the Etsy affiliate program.
- Flipkart – Up to a 10% commission
Flipkart is India’s largest e-commerce marketplace with a customer base of over 100 million. They offer over 80 million products across 80+ categories including smartphones, books, media, consumer electronics, furniture, fashion, and lifestyle. Learn about the Flipkart affiliate program.
- Home Depot – Up to an 8% commission
The Home Depot is the largest home improvement retailer in the United States. They sell tools, construction products, home décor products, garden accessories, raw materials, and services. Learn about the Home Depot affiliate program.
- Jumia – Up to an 11% commission
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 products. Learn about the Jumia affiliate program.
- Overstock – Up to a 6% commission
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.
- Target – Up to an 8% commission
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 a 4% commission
Walmart is a multinational retail corporation that operates a chain of hypermarkets, discount department stores, and grocery stores. They are the largest retailer in the world followed by Amazon, CSV, and Alibaba. Their retail empire has yielded many billionaires belonging to the Walton family (Sam Walton was the founder). Learn about the Walmart affiliate program.