AuctionBytes Blog
Covering auctions, collectibles and marketplace selling.

AuctionBytes Blog The AuctionBytes Blog has been giving a voice to online merchants since its launch in 2005. Named one of the world's top 30 blogs in 2008 by "Blogging Heroes." Weigh in with your thoughts on the joys and pitfalls of selling online.
Thu June 25 2009 22:18:29

Where Are Online Marketplace Affiliate Programs?

By: Ina Steiner

Sponsored Link

In March, Etsy officially launched the Etsy Developer Community and API. It's well known that third-party developers can help marketplace sellers be more efficient and market their wares, and they can also develop buyer tools to help shoppers find and purchase items. However, they need a revenue model to make it worth their time and effort.

I noticed some web developers discussing the business model for developing tools on the Etsy platform. One developer wrote that after the release of the API, "I was expecting an explosion of etsy related applications/widgets but given the rather quietness of the forums it seems that developers have a problem to find a real business model around services/apps that would bring real added value to etsy users." And, he suggested an affiliate program. (Spokesperson Adam Brown said this week that Etsy does not have plans to offer an affiliate program at the moment.)

Given that Etsy is a marketplace for unique items, sellers are unlikely to need the kind of bulk listing tools so popular with eBay sellers. Shopping tools would likely be more welcome by Etsy itself, since getting traffic and sales are usually bigger challenges for marketplaces than attracting sellers, and sure enough, the announcement about the launch of its API had referred to shopping-related activities:

"The Etsy API will allow developers access to the code for actions one can do on the Etsy website, such as searching product listings and viewing members' favorite ("hearted") items."

Third-party developers who have created eBay shopping tools (including and relied on eBay's affiliate program as their revenue model. (While sellers will pay for tools to help them be more efficient, buyers are unlikely to pay for shopping tools!)

Having an API and an affiliate program may be the missing ingredient to marketplaces competing with eBay. However, it does raise another "chicken-and-egg" dilemma for these sites. Unless they are well funded, they will have to pay affiliates with revenue from seller fees. And until marketplaces can prove the sales are there, sellers are unlikely to want to pay higher fees to the marketplace to fund affiliate programs.

Oh, and one more problem: this is a challenging time for companies running affiliate programs as states in the U.S. look to collect tax revenue from companies with affiliates in their states, a trend kicked off by the state of New York.

Comments (6) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Where Are Online Marketplace Affiliate Programs?   Where Are Online Marketplace Affiliate Programs?

by: Sachin Agarwal

Fri Jun 26 01:05:16 2009

Ina, we have an affiliate program at Dawdle:

While we don't have an API, we do publish a full data feed every day with images and descriptions.  Our affiliates claim that they prefer the static nature of a flat file as it's less hassle to deal with intra-day data cleanup issues.

Perminate Link for Where Are Online Marketplace Affiliate Programs?   Where Are Online Marketplace Affiliate Programs?

by: joe

Fri Jun 26 07:52:20 2009

Finally the bell goes off...
I've been stating this for about six months now. Startups especially those competeing with ebay


Webmaster will not promote sites unless there's a revenue stream in it for them, likewise for third party developers. Word of mouth and press releases with blogging just doesn't cut it.
Ebay and paypal didn't take off till they paid webmasters a registration fee and a part of each commission for each item sold.  Affiliate programs pay for themselves with immense exposure and traffic...When ebays competition begins a credible affiliate program  with a known reliable payout provider like Commission Junction...ebay will have a fit.
Wake up Goneanzle, and Filled Crater and the rest of you...time to crank it up and be real competitors.

Perminate Link for Where Are Online Marketplace Affiliate Programs?   Where Are Online Marketplace Affiliate Programs?

by: Internet Strategist @GrowMap

Fri Jun 26 11:14:20 2009

If app developers focus on upgrades that increase conversion rates those should appeal to both merchants and Etsy. They can get ideas from the third party enhancements that have been created for Yahoo! stores such as:
1) improved site search (crucial to increasing sales - if potential buyers  don't find what they want easily they assume you don't have it and leave!)
2) ways to display popular products (Bridaluxe continually updates what is popular and displays it in their affiliate's sites)
3) a way to compare products (shows those you are most interested in on one page to enhance purchase decisions)
4)cross-selling and upselling (by offering related products or items commonly purchased together)
5) wish lists (to remind returning visitors what they were interested in the way does - this can greatly increase sales)
6) gift registries (so others know what you would most like to receive)
7) Check out popular stores and especially sites like Amazon for more ideas

Etsy really should reconsider offering an affiliate program because as these tools increase conversion rates for individual sellers they will also increase Etsy's profits. ShareASale is the affiliate management program least expensive for merchants to start.

Another option would be for a third party to develop a system similar to the one Bridaluxe has (for wedding related sites) but this would only likely to be used by the largest Etsy sellers. Merchants pay to use their system to create stores with advanced functions and Bridaluxe offers individual assistance and is actively growing their reach on Social Networking sites.  

Perminate Link for Where Are Online Marketplace Affiliate Programs?   Where Are Online Marketplace Affiliate Programs?

by: shipwire order fulfillment

Fri Jun 26 16:42:59 2009

Agree with Joe's comment.

I wanted to add, even though some marketplaces don't offer affiliate programs a lot of 3rd party seller/e-commerce tool providers DO provide robust affiliate programs.  So a developer that builds an extension to an e-commerce tool to make it compatible with Etsy or another marketplace could either 1)  Sell the extension or access to the extension; 2)  Get affiliate revenue from the e-commerce tool that they are extending.

I see this A LOT with the Shipwire partner program and our API

Website or application developers connect Shipwire to shopping carts, opens source scripts, marketplaces, inventory management systems and even freight quote systems.  

They leverage our shipping affiliate program that gives them up to $.30/order to help fund the integration.  

Some give their modules away (A Magento developer did this).  Others charge a usage fee for it. We have 4 API's so I've even seen developers integrate one of the API's and give that away in order to get the professional service/systems integration (hourly work) to connect the other 2-3-4 API's.

A savvy developer can make money using the Marketplace API's; even if the Marketplace doesn't have a lucrative affiliate commission structure.  But they need to add value.

Nate G

shipping affiliate partner program:


Shipwire is an e-commerce tool for merchants.  We provide order fulfillment from warehouses in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.

Perminate Link for Where Are Online Marketplace Affiliate Programs?   Where Are Online Marketplace Affiliate Programs?

by: DSR Report (eBay Star Developer Runner-up)

Fri Jun 26 18:17:56 2009

Part of the problem with Etsy and their API is the API itself.  I signed up when it was first released and found nothing worth developing.  It is like a poor man's eBay shopping API.  Develop a worthwhile API and maybe the applications will follow.

Perminate Link for Where Are Online Marketplace Affiliate Programs?   Where Are Online Marketplace Affiliate Programs?

by: fruity

Wed Jul 1 20:57:18 2009

I dont think the API developers and Affiliates truly know where the real money is. I'd like to see them partner with the sellers. Hey DEVELOPERS, why dont you bring in some of us sellers and buyers to your planning table. We'll open our wallets 15%. That's a hell of alot better than what you make with that affiliate program. But of course... so many of you are in ebays back pocket, we know why you dont

Login is required to post comments.
To sign in to leave a comment using your AB Verify User Name, fill in the form below. If you have not yet signed up for AB Verify, or if you'd like more information, go to the Registration Page

Login for AB Verify
Be sure and use your email address and password to log in.

 Forgot Your Password?
 Even though you are signed in with the AuctionBytes Blog, you will have to sign in to the EcommerceBytes blog. But you can sign in with your existing AB Verify info.