Last month, Amazon severed its relationship with some 25,000 affiliate marketers in California due to the passing of a new law that would require Amazon to collect sales tax on products sold to California residents. According to the new law, the affiliate marketers constitute a company presence in the state, and by cutting ties with those affiliates, Amazon hopes to avoid the responsibility to collect sales tax. I am certain that many are heartbroken by this loss of income, and this has gotten me thinking about the alternatives that exist for California-based affiliate marketers who are unable to just pack up and move.
Although I don’t live in California, I am in a state that had a close call with Amazon a couple of years ago and could again in the near future. It is always dangerous to be heavily reliant on just one source of online income. So, I did a bit of research to see what else is out there.
Some of the key points I considered were:
These are the merchants that I was able to come up with. If you have any to add, please leave a comment.
eBay Partner Network: You can typically find just about everything on eBay that you can on Amazon, making this a potentially good affiliate program to choose if you advertise a variety of different products on your website and want to convert as many of your links as possible to a single merchant to concentrate your marketing efforts. Rather than paying directly for sales conversions, eBay is transitioning its affiliate program to pay for clicks instead. eBay calls this new program Quality Click Pricing. eBay says websites that drive high-quality traffic stand to earn the most money for each click. eBay is based in California.
Buy.com Affiliate Connection: Buy.com offers a base commission of 3% on sales, but the commission rate goes up to 6%, 8% or 10% on several popular merchandise categories such as books, groceries, office supplies, music, sporting goods, toys, pet supplies and jewelry. Depending on what you advertise on your website, you may never see the lower 3% commission rate. The Buy.com affiliate tracking cookie has a duration of 15 days — Amazon’s cookie lasts only 3 days — and you can buy through your own affiliate links to save money. Buy.com is based in California.
Wal-Mart Affiliate Program: Wal-Mart tends to be an attractive website for shoppers to visit; many people live near Wal-Mart stores, and the website offers free or cheap shipping to the local store for most purchases. Wal-Mart’s tracking cookie has a duration of three days, and the affiliate program pays a commission of 4% on sales of products such as toys, home and garden, sports, apparel, jewelry and gifts. Other categories such as computers, electronics, video games and media have a 1% commission rate. Because Wal-Mart already has a physical presence in California, it is not affected by the affiliate tax law. Sign up through LinkShare.
Target Affiliate Program: Target offers a default commission rate of 7% on sales in many categories, with the rate dropping slightly to 3% in other categories such as electronics and video games. The tracking cookie has a duration of 7 days. Like Wal-Mart, Target offers a good selection of general merchandise across a variety of categories.
Best Buy Affiliate Program: Best Buy already collects sales tax where required, so its affiliate program is not affected by California’s affiliate nexus tax law. Best Buy offers a 3% commission rate on many product categories including TVs, digital cameras, home theater systems, video game hardware, books, music and movies. However, the commission rate on desktop computers is just 1%. No commission is offered for laptops or netbooks.
Newegg Affiliate Program: Newegg is one of the most respected sellers of computers, computer hardware and other electronics online. They typically achieve high conversion rates because of their reputation for low prices, fast shipping and good customer service. The downside of Newegg’s affiliate program, though, is that the commission rate starts at just 1%. You receive permanent commission rate increases when your all-time total sales reach $200,000 (1.5%), $400,000 (2%) and $800,000 (2.5%). Newegg is based in California. The tracking cookie has a duration of 7 days, and the company’s affiliate program is managed by Commission Junction.
iTunes Affiliate Program: iTunes is the largest music retailer in the United States, and it seems like practically everyone owns an iPod. In addition to music and movies, becoming an iTunes affiliate allows you to sell App Store software and e-books to Mac, iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone owners. If you advertise media products on your website, and your readers are not shy about purchasing products in digital rather than physical formats, this is one of the top affiliate programs that you should consider joining. The iTunes affiliate cookie has a duration of 3 days, and iTunes pays a 5% commission on all sales. Apple is based in California. Sign up through LinkShare.
Barnes & Noble Affiliate Program: Barnes & Noble pays a 6% commission on sales of media such as books, music, movies, toys and games. In addition, B&N markets the Nook e-Book readers, one of the Amazon Kindle’s top competitors. Since Barnes & Noble already has a physical presence in California, the company is not affected by the affiliate nexus law. Another strong point for affiliate marketers is that the B&N tracking cookie never expires. Sign up through LinkShare.
Home Depot Affiliate Program: If you advertise home improvement items on your website, consider joining the Home Depot affiliate program. Home Depot offers a base commission rate of 3%, which can quickly add up given the cost of home improvement projects. Many people would consider buying from Home Depot first for home goods, so you may experience higher commission rates than you would with Amazon. The drawback is that Home Depot’s affiliate cookie has a duration of just one day. Hope Depot already has a physical presence in California.
Macy’s Affiliate Program: Macy’s is a well-known department store chain selling items in the beauty, apparel, home, bed & bath and jewelry categories. Macy’s offers a 3% commission on all sales and has a tracking cookie duration of ten days. Sign up through LinkShare.
Sears Affiliate Program: Sears has a 2% base commission rate on sales generated by affiliates, although the rate varies and is much higher for certain items. For example, the commission rate for jewelry is 7%. The tracking cookie duration is five days. Sears is a company that many people go to for major purchases such as home gyms, tools and lawn equipment, so you stand to achieve a high conversion rate if you advertise products in any of these categories.