Is Your Cross-Border Affiliate Program Up to Snuff?

by Greg Shepard on Sep 30, 2015 11:09:11 PM Digital Marketing, e-Commerce

It’s a global economy, right? Of course it is. After all, you’ve been told that for the past 20 years, right? So just how global is your affiliate business? I bet if you crunch the numbers, you’ll find there’s plenty of room to grow in that respect.

It’s easy to dabble in the global economy. Anyone can do that. But if you want to truly jump in, you need the right tools, the right strategy, the right experts and the right boots on the ground. Saying you are global strictly because you’re on the Internet is not entirely accurate.

And while selling globally may be a bit of a challenge at first, many categories are well on their way. For example, according to a yStats report, apparel sellers best all other merchant categories when it comes to selling clothing cross-border in Europe.

On a more macro level, according to eMarketer, global e-commerce sales hit $1.3 trillion in 2014, up 22.25 percent from 2013. In 2015, global e-commerce sales will increase 21 percent to $1.6 trillion and account for 6.7 percent of all retail sales globally. By 2018, global e-commerce sales will rise to $2.49 trillion and account for 8.8 percent of all retail sales globally.

It is happening and it’s something merchants need to deal with now, not tomorrow.

Perhaps, as a merchant, you have explored global retail possibilities. Perhaps you are already engaged in some form of global marketing to promote your brand cross-border, but what about your affiliate program? Other than exploring a couple of individual, country-specific affiliates, have you fully embraced a cross-border affiliate strategy?

Aspects such as shipping, currency exchange rates, taxes, management of in-country affiliates and networks, cultural considerations, content compliance, domain monitoring, and search strategies are all issues that need to be managed—and leveraged to one’s advantage—when launching a global affiliate program. Do you, as a merchant, have that all lined up?

If you’re thinking, “Well, OK, maybe I need a little help,” then you should consider working with a global strategic partner that has relationships with in-country affiliates and networks and the culturally relevant experience necessary to take your affiliate program global.
A smart strategic partner will have knowledge of various cultural intricacies and unique market challenges, and can tailor affiliate channel offers in a way that will produce better yields and higher sales. Such a partner can help global merchants understand the unique ecosystem (and players to involve) in order to build an affiliate marketing channel that resonates with a regionally-specific customer base and delivers ROI.

A strong strategic partner with a local presence also provides an unbiased, 50,000-foot view of the affiliate channel and can recommend what’s most effective for a specific merchant in that market without platform favoritism or exclusivity.

Though e-commerce and affiliate channel efforts have, indeed, gone global, it is not yet the seamless, omnichannel-like experience most merchants are hoping for. This is exacerbated by the fact that the leading networks and affiliates in one country may not be leaders in other countries. This makes a merchant’s affiliate efforts quite challenging, and require an informed and nuanced approach to growing internationally.

Working with a strategic partner can help head you in the right direction when taking your affiliate marketing program global.

Photo by twobee/

Greg Shepard is CEO of AffiliateTraction.

Greg Shepard's blog
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