Almost every major affiliate marketer you’ll see has a relationship with Amazon. For well over a decade, the online retailer has been a cornerstone of affiliate sales. It’s been a reliable source of income, offered up a massive array of different products, and also made it possible for major online magazines to monetize their content.
Nowadays, it’s hard to name a major publisher who hasn’t relied on Amazon’s affiliate marketing commissions for serious income. Refinery 29, YourTango, and even Buzzfeed all do it. But, things are starting to look like that trend will hit the skids. Why? Because Amazon has recently slashed one of their biggest commission structures.
In a serious blow to the affiliate marketing business, Amazon announced that they would be cutting commissions across a massive array of different categories. Some of the cuts include:
- Home and Furniture. The payouts would decrease from 8 percent to 3 percent.
- Groceries. Grocery products would be dropped from 5 percent to a scant 1 percent.
- Headphones, Beauty, Business Supplies, and Instruments. These categories had varying payouts ranging from 5 to 6 percent. Their commissions have now fallen to 3 percent.
- Health & Personal Care. Perhaps one of the most heavily hit categories, this payout shrank to a scant 1 percent.
You can see a full explanation of the new rate cuts on Amazon’s site.
Why Is Amazon Doing This?
We honestly don’t know. When pressed for answers, Amazon reps refused to give an answer, and offered no comments to the full reason. Speculation has ranged from COVID-19 issues to a general desire to keep more of the profits they’ve been able to do.
What Does This Mean For Affiliate Marketers?
Whether people want to admit it or not, there is a certain point where it doesn’t make financial sense to keep a business open. The same can be said for affiliate marketing sites. Upon hearing about the major cuts, many affiliate marketer websites have stated that their businesses will not be able to weather the cuts.
I don’t have to tell you that this spells doom for people who are looking to keep small businesses afloat. It will now cost more to keep their sites up than their affiliate sales will bring in—assuming that Amazon is their main affiliate.
Is It Worth Marketing Anymore?
Honestly, I don’t think that it’s worth trying to start up a business that’s built on affiliate marketing for Amazon. Companies are already starting to fold as a result of the cuts, which means that the profitability potential is somewhat limited these days.
What You Can Do To Blunt The Blow
If you have been using Amazon affilate marketing to make a profit, I understand that it’s gotta be tough. This announcement is a serious blow to every major affiliate seller. Thankfully, there are some things you can do in order to turn a profit. Here are my suggestions:
- Look for other affiliates. Amazon might be king, but you don’t have to serve a king that doesn’t serve you. There are other affiliates out there that offer better commissions, so just side with them moving forward.
- Consider starting your own dropship store. It’s beginning to look like this will be the future of online commerce. I’m happy to see this becoming a bigger deal.
- Use ads and monetized videos to add income to your site. No one likes ads, but they are a necessary evil. The truth is that advertising makes commerce go forward, and that most sites will need some ads in order to keep afloat.
- Selling your site or being open to PR requests might be options to consider, too. If your entire model was built around Amazon, the best thing you can do is to switch over the site to a PR-heavy blog. If you don’t have the traffic you need to do that, another way to work around it is to sell your site while it’s still doable.
I’m not going to lie. I’m a fan of Amazon’s fast shipping, but that’s where my fandom ends. Amazon is not my favorite e-commerce site, especially when I know how badly the company treats workers, affiliates, and sellers.
Right now, we’re at a point where Amazon is becoming increasingly under fire for its bad business practices. We’ve heard about their “heat maps” to help break up union talk, their employees who have suffered from overwork, plus protests from people who have had enough of their terrible conditions.
Now that Amazon’s affiliate marketers are getting to see what it’s like to live the “Amazon” way, things are going to start getting ugly. Amazon doesn’t realize how much of their work is propped up by affiliates. Once affiliates start going to other people, we will see more competition for traffic…and the ecommerce juggernaut will feel the brunt of it.
No company, no matter how large, is infallible. Even Microsoft is seeing losses in what once were major juggernaut companies like Skype. That’s why it’s important to be humble—and Bezos better learn that if he wants to keep Amazon’s popularity afloat.
My prediction is that people will eventually get sick of Amazon’s bunk, and will start pushing more independent sites again. We are seeing a society that is tired of big business, and that means a lot of good for people who are looking to make a change with their bucks.
Amazon and Walmart Affiliate Tips
If you’ve been a fan of Concessionist.com, then you already have gotten the memo that affiliate marketing isn’t just for a certain niche of digital products anymore. Virtually every single major e-tailer has gotten into the affiliate game, and that spells great news for those of us who love to promote other peoples’ work.
Two of the biggest players in the game right now are the digital empire known Amazon, and the retail giant known as Walmart. Their payouts might not be the biggest, but these two retailers are known for having the highest purchase rates among all affiliate programs. In laymen’s terms, this makes them very viable windows of opportunity.
Though they can offer a lot of income for people, it’s not a free for all. There’s still some strategy that needs to be taken into consideration when it comes to marketing products to people here. If you’re going to use these two affiliate sites, these following tips will come in handy:
Choose products that you would want to buy, or that you feel would be popular for your niche. The beautiful thing about both Walmart and Amazon is that you have almost every major popular product in the world available for affiliate sales. That’s amazing! Knowing that, it makes all the more sense to choose products that have great reputations. If your product doesn’t sell itself, then you shouldn’t be selling the product to others.
Use all Amazon, or all Walmart—don’t switch affiliates in the middle of a blog post. This is a good way to get your readers feeling disorganized or disoriented. A little uniformity goes a long, long way.
Be honest about each product’s perks and pitfalls. People don’t like reading overly salesy stuff, nor do they like high-pressure sales pitches. Too heavy-handed an approach will make people raise an eyebrow, especially if the products are shown as flawless. While you should downplay negative features, mentioning important shortcomings is a must if you want to earn trust.
No, really, please look at the reviews before you get a product plastered on your site. People read reviews and make decisions based on them. If you choose products with piss-poor reviews, readers will notice that and will lose faith in your site. This is especially true when it comes to Amazon reviews.
Always choose upscale brands over “cheap knockoffs.” Both Amazon and Walmart have a problem with sellers who sell badly made, cheap stuff. For customers, this tends to mean that they will need to be extra vigilant. The easiest way to gain their trust is to overcome this by choosing name brand products exclusively.
People are going to be leery about handmade products on Walmart. Walmart and the word “artisan” don’t go together. At all. People know this, and won’t even bother trying to find artisan items on this platform. Amazon does have a handmade section, which makes it more acceptable to suggest selling them.
Walmart is ideal for basics, Amazon is better for quirky finds. Walmart and Amazon are both very popular brands, but for different reasons. Walmart’s grip on the market is because of its reliability for basics. Amazon started to get a reputation for being edgier thanks to its Launchpad concepts. Use that when you’re marketing items.
If you are marketing home products or art products, make a point of explaining how to use them. This is a crucial mistake that people make with both Amazon and Walmart. When it comes to home products and products that are used for crafts, saying how to use them matters as much as saying they’re good.
Know that most people find Amazon to be the better affiliate. Walmart might be able to get you some good sales, but the real money seems to be stuck in Amazon. Everyone has an account, and everyone has everything set up to make ordering a cinch. Since cookies stay longer on Amazon, chances are that you’ll get an affiliate sale easier too.
Avoid selling products that have models posing with them. Ever notice how many Amazon and Walmart products have photographs involving people posing with them, or clearly photoshopped body parts involved in their marketing? It’s not a good look. Products with these types of pictures tend to be exceedingly low quality. Avoid them!
What you say about the products matters just as much as the products themselves. Yes, the product you chose is cool. Yes, it comes from a brand name. Yes, it’s assumed to be good. But why is it good? Why is it the must-have option? What makes this product so unique? It’s up to you to answer these questions.
All other standard affiliate marketing rules apply. Just because you’re selling through Amazon doesn’t make you immune to the general rules of affiliate marketing. You still need a good looking site. You still need to have quality copywriting and great graphics. Thinking that you can shirk off your duty here is not going to do you any favors!