Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ecommerce in situ, the affiliate scheme for modern retailers

<Insert predictable ecommerce image here>
The affiliate scheme is a simple and massively successful marketing tactic that encourages third parties to, essentially, promote your products on their website and to only pay them when you make a sale. The affiliate scheme was popularised by but actually pre-dated the internet. It was brought online by PC Flowers and Gifts as far back as 1989.

Amazon's innovative and widespread approach put the choice of advertising into the hands of the third party and coupled with aggressive marketing, moved the affiliate scheme to the forefront of most organisation's ecommerce marketing strategies.

While affiliate schemes remain successful, I can't help but feel that it is a Web 1.0 tactic that needs updating. The affiliate scheme pushes visitors to your website for you to convert into customers, why can't we convert them on their website?

The relationship between the customer and the retailer would remain throughout with the transaction being fulfilled and customer details stored by the retailer. This would be achieved by ecommerce in situ - placing your own ecommerce and registration widget on third party sites.

As retailers, if we are careful and selective with these third parties, ensuring that they have committed communities and a reputation that doesn't detract from the brand, then this is a concept that should work. If visitors have a trusting relationship with the third party, who is open about the in situ relationship, then we're half way to a conversion.