How to Start an Affiliate Program for your BigCommerce Store

affiliate program in bigcommerceEcommerce stores large and small use affiliate programs as a low-risk to generate exposure and sales. BigCommerce store owners would also like to use this marketing channel, but they soon find that BigCommerce affiliate program integration is not so simple.

BigCommerce is an ecommerce platform that comes with many useful features out of the box, but it lacks an affiliate tracking system.

It would make sense for BigCommerce to just integrate the functionality into their shopping cart, like their main competitor Volusion.

But in the meantime, while BigCommerce does not offer this out of the box, let’s explore the other options for starting an affiliate program in BigCommerce.

Affiliate Software that Integrates with BigCommerce

Some of the popular most popular affiliate software, such as iDevAffiliate and PostAffiliatePro have not been properly tested with BigCommerce. Users that have tried to integrate them have run into serious problems.

The only software that BigCommerce confirms is fully compatible for integration is OSI Affiliate by Omnistar. This full-featured affiliate software offers you pretty much everything you will need to track conversions and communicate with affiliates, and a very clean, easy to use interface. Set up is relatively simple and quick (though my rule is that you should always be prepared for some glitches with every new feature you add to your store, no matter how simple it promises to be – so have a BigCommerce developer on hand when you do it). It costs $27 a month to run with a free trial.

Another option for affiliate software is HasOffers, which is an awesome, industry leading affiliate software which I have had great experience with. But since it starts at $279 a month, it might be overkill for smaller stores!

Join an Affiliate Network

Instead of purchasing and configuring affiliate software, you can integrate your BigCommerce store with one of the well-known affiliate networks, like ShareaSale or Commission Junction, which have tens of thousands of affiliates registered.

The advantage of working with an affiliate network, rather than running your own affiliate program privately, is that it’s easier to find affiliates, who will learn about your program through the network. Affiliates are also more willing to join programs run through large affiliate networks, since they are already members of those networks and they feel more secure that their clicks will be properly tracked and they will be properly paid for their efforts.

CommissionJunction is only suitable for bigger businesses, since they require that you generate over $1 million dollars in annual sales. ShareaSale is the affiliate network of choice for small businesses, and they have a sterling reputation for reliability. They charge a $500 setup fee and collect a small percentage of each affiliate sale they track.

There are other less-known, yet established affiliate networks that integrate with BigCommerce, such as PepperJam Network. It might be worthwhile to shop around.

Should You Start an Affiliate Program for Your Store?

Some ecommerce businesses hear about affiliate marketing and think they’ve found the magic bullet for risk-free revenue increase.

In the affiliate marketing model, merchants pay commissions to publishers only for the sales they refer, and they pay nothing for ads that don’t perform. Sounds like a marketing dream come true, right?

But, like every aspect of Web marketing, the reality is more complex than it may seem on the surface.

Each of the options mentioned in this post will cost you time and money to implement, not just for setup and maintenance, but also to attract and motivate quality affiliates, and produce banners, datafeeds and other forms of up-to-date advertising creatives. Due to the work and expertise involved in building successful affiliate programs, many companies contract “Outsourced Program Managers” to do it for them.

Just having an affiliate program, even with one of the big networks, is no guarantee of success.

On the other hand, thousands of ecommerce stores do run successful affiliate programs, from Amazon down to one-man-shows, including many BigCommerce stores.

Will your store be next?

About Naomi

I'm New Edge Design's Blogger-in-Chief. Through my own extensive experience as a web marketer and ecommerce site owner, I bring the best tips and insights on the web to this blog, especially for you.

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