Check Out The Checkout or Chuck Out The Affiliate?
Electricshopping.com are the latest merchant to decide to change their affiliate policy with voucher code directories. Details and discussion are ongoing at A4U, but there’s two elements within that discussion that I feel need to be lifted and expanded upon. On the surface they’re two throw away comments made by two different merchants, but they’re actually quite significant when you assess the problems they’re complaining about.
The problem facing networks, affiliates and merchants is who to reward for sale when a sales process is essentially “hijacked” at checkout by the consumer suddenly remembers they might be able to get a discount (or even cashback – lets’ not let them entirely off the hook here merchants!). They type in “voucher code + Merchant” and end up on a directory and end up purchasing with that cookie and not the sales channel of origin, whatever that may be! Bearing that in mind … now read the following:
[affiliates] should not be rewarded for sales made to customers that we have attracted though other channels who are already in our checkout process and see an empty field for a voucher code and then Google for voucher codes for us.
and then this one:
in the vast majority of sales attributed to a voucher code site, the customer was already in the checkout before visiting the code site and coming back to complete the sale.
Firstly, if you have a “enter voucher code here” box on your checkout isn’t that like sticking a sign up to your customer and saying “voucher codes are available, if you haven’t got one why not go and find one”? You’re facilitating the problem and it’s not solved completely by dropping VC site commissions or removing them from your program!
If you stand in a City Centre every day with a sign around your neck saying “kick me and take a tenner” you can’t complain a week later you’ve got loads of bruises and are down a few thousand quid.
If you’re a merchant who doesn’t issue codes – code out the voucher code box! Perhaps replace it with a link to your own deals. For example “spend another £10 and qualify for free postage and packing”. A bit of time sorting out your own site may well improve your affiliate program.
Secondly, if merchants are aware that they’re losing the vast majority of sales to a VC (or cashback) site at checkout then surely this calls for some kind of technological involvement where the last cookie isn’t over written for a period once the consumer has reached a certain point within the sales process?
Alternatively bring in “click link – set discount” systems that have been used successfully by a couple of merchants – e.g. Figleaves! There’s no need to issue a code (so need for click to reveal – just straightforward good old click link go to website), the consumer’s discount is automatically applied, and there’s no need for a box at checkout telling the customer to swan off for a short time and find one!
These sound so simple a solutions, and are perhaps better options than chucking out affiliates? However, simple solutions usually means it’s impossible to do or people aren’t keen to do it!
I fully appreciate that there are issues with the “sales journey”, and it’s only until we’re all privvy to extensive data about the effects of VCs & cashback on where commissions head too that we can fully get to grips with them, but at the moment some of the blame and responsibility for the current VC situation actually lies with the merchants themselves.
They’re the ones issuing codes, they’re the ones who can sort out their sites in terms of code boxes and influencing the consumer to go a searching and they’re the ones who can implement new voucher management systems.
If sales are changing channels at checkout then check out the checkout, don’t chuck out your affiliates!