Amazon has once again nuked affiliate marketers’ ability to take home fatter paychecks. We’re talking about a whopping 45% to 80% reduction in their commission structure which rolled out on April 21.
The most recent change is expected to slash 40% to 70% off some partners’ monthly income, and that’s pretty brutal considering the pandemic we’re in. If you haven’t heard the bad news yet, take a look at this table to see what niches will be weeping:
|Product Description||Old Rate||New Rate||Reduction|
|Furniture, Home, Home Improvement, Lawn and Garden, Pet Products, Pantry||8%||3%||(62.50%)|
|Headphones, Beauty, Musical Instruments, Business and Industrial Supplies||6%||3%||(50%)|
|Health and Personal Care||4.5%||1%||(77.78%)|
A lot of us are furious. Besides, CEO Jeff Bezos has made headlines after a study from Comparisun forecasted that he will make history by 2026 as the first person to reach the trillionaire status. His net worth has grown big time over the last 5 years. As if an average of 34% isn’t enough, perhaps Bezos wanted to rush his raise with the latest revamp on Amazon’s commission structure.
For many affiliate marketers, this sounds like a good time to ask: is it time to ditch Amazon for good?
The recent change shouldn’t mean the end of the world for authority site management. In this guide, allow us to walk you through the pros and cons of staying, along with the best alternatives to the Amazon Affiliate Program.
What’s wrong with Amazon’s Affiliate program?
Even before the revisions in its commission structure, Amazon’s Affiliate Program is far from perfect. Take a look at the issues that authority site operators had to deal with:
Short cookie duration
The moment a visitor clicks on your affiliate link, it triggers a tracking code that will help Amazon credit successful purchases to you. However, it will only last for 24 hours. Say goodbye to your commissions if users take long to finalize their buying decision! This has always been a nightmare for niches dealing with more expensive goods, since their audience usually take things slow before investing big.
Generally low commission rates
This is the main factor that can turn off any affiliate marketer. With commission rates starting at 1%, some niches are good as dead if they’ll only rely on Amazon. You’ll have to compensate with your sales volume to earn decent passive income every month.
Intense competition for the best-selling niches
The commission structure has been used by many authority site operators as a compass when choosing what niche to penetrate. Naturally, noses are turned to those with the highest rates. Although there are hundreds of millions of product listings on Amazon, there are barely that many goods that sell well. Reality check, it will be one hell of a job to beat the long-established niche sites who already called dibs on the best deals.
Revocable access to the program
Like any affiliate program, Amazon has a huge chunk of guidelines that you will have to commit to in order to stay as a partner. You might not even be eligible in the first place, and cases of rejected applications are not fresh news. To keep the money flowing as the site rules with an iron fist, authority site owners have to develop and cultivate alternative revenue streams.
Hostile responses to economic changes
It’s pretty obvious. No matter how much time and effort you’ve spent on your affiliate marketing strategy, a single update from Amazon can force you to kiss your goals goodbye. Online shopping should’ve been a big hit amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but that did not stop Bezos from squeezing our money pipes. There was also a time when Amazon dropped all of its partners in California as retaliation to the passage of a new sales tax law. To avoid living with the feat of losing their Amazon accounts overnight, marketers found it smart to search for alternative affiliate programs they can turn to as back up.
What’s so good about Amazon’s Affiliate program?
Amazon did not become the king of affiliate marketing programs for nothing. Here are the reasons why replacing Amazon is far from being an easy choice:
Hassle-free account set up and management
In just a few minutes, you can already get your Amazon partner account up and running. You don’t even have to worry about getting through strict, thorough inspections of your website and published content. While alternative affiliate programs take time in vetting their publishers, Amazon is quite chill on that matter. They don’t really care if you’re just a humble startup that’s still struggling with a low visitor count or limited available articles. They’re large enough to accommodate beginners and advanced webmasters alike. Moreover, they have a trusted system in place that can weed out spam sites regularly.
Huge collection of tools, functions, and reports generation features
Being the most popular affiliate marketing program has its perks after all. Even newbies in authority site management can set up affiliate links in strategic areas of their website with various plugins. Nope, Zuckerberg-level skills in coding isn’t a requirement. You can already generate attractive widgets and custom affiliate short links with just a few scrolls and clicks. Even better, you can get access to detailed reports that can date as far back as 12 years ago. This is all thanks to Amazon’s offered cloud-based functions that can make data gathering, analysis, and reporting such a breeze.
The world hails Amazon as among the biggest and most trusted companies
It’s a no-brainer that Amazon is the big boss of e-commerce not just in the USA. In September 2019 alone, Statista revealed that the shopping app was accessed by over 150.6 million American mobile users. Quite frankly, this is the hardest brownie point to snatch for other affiliate programs. More and more buyers are becoming highly analytical, often trusting Amazon over other small online shopping websites. Even the most meticulous buyers can be satisfied with the help of return policies and deals, customer support functions, review compilations, and price match guarantees. Their affiliates seldom have to worry about earning the trust of customers with Amazon’s solid reputation as a global retailer. With this foundation laid, you can shift your focus to making the most sales each month instead.
Attractive commissions for some valuable products
If you don’t have the patience to sell a hundred cooking pots to get a decent income, Amazon also offers the opportunity to market electronic equipment priced at tens of thousands. Even at a low commission rate of 5%, selling a single expensive product can give you great bonuses already. Affiliate marketers can better decide which price range to focus on. At least, you’re not stuck with just a few pennies for fast selling yet cheap goods.
You can take advantage of Amazon’s seasonal sales for higher conversions
If a lot of shoppers don’t mind the heated warfare in malls during Black Friday, imagine the number of visitors constantly refreshing a product listing to be the first to check out thrift deals. Christmas can come early for affiliate marketers who make the most out of preorder deals, standard sales, and extravagant seasonal bonuses. Smaller e-commerce shops consider this as a huge setback, often unable to offer discounted prices as low as Amazon could.
Wide collection of products for almost every niche
According to ScrapHero, Amazon boasts of 119,928,851 products as of April 2019. Isn’t that insane? A shopping portal this big allows you to find anything you might be interested in selling for your collection of niche sites. Finding the most strategic products and creating buyer guides is also made easier with Amazon’s best-seller lists. Even better, you get access to hundreds of real customer reviews to help you can deliver more objective recommendations.
Earn commissions even for products you did not directly recommend
Other affiliate programs grant you bonuses for single products you have signed up to promote, and that’s it. But with Amazon, you can earn commissions for all the products on a user’s shopping cart. Even if you only recommended a $10 e-book on coffee making, you also get added revenue if they remember wanting to purchase a $1000 espresso machine for their cafe.
Who should stay with Amazon?
The most recent adjustments in Amazon’s commission rates showed mercy to some niches, including:
- Physical books and music
- Amazon devices
- Watches, jewelry, handbags, and accessories
- PC and PC components
- DVD and Blu-ray
- Video Games
However, Amazon shouldn’t be your sole revenue stream regardless of the niche you’re in. We don’t even recommend turning it into your primary income source! You can keep on patronizing their affiliate program, but do so with realistic expectations and rebranded focus. We can’t predict if this is the end of Bezos’ slashing spree on their commission rates, so it’s smart to look for more rewarding alternatives.
Best Affiliate Networks
ShareASale is a Chicago-based affiliate network that boasts of a large inventory from over 3,900 merchants who offer both digital and physical goods. With well-curated categories, the platform enables you to find the right brands and products for your varied niche sites. It’s known to be a haven of small and medium enterprises, but it also supports known companies such as Qatar Airways, WP Engine, Masterclass, The Princeton Review, and the California Wine Club.
This affiliate network was bought by AWIN for $35 million back in 2017, but it still operates as a separate brand with its own domain.
Joining ShareASale can be completed in a matter of minutes. After going through five steps that ask you to provide personal details, information about your authority site, and preferred mode of payment, the waiting game for approval usually takes 24 hours.
What marketers love the most about ShareASale is that it allows you to find affiliate programs like it’s a walk in the park. In its search for merchants function, you can filter results according to: sales commission, lead commission, cookie duration, power rank, and a lot more helpful categories.
ShareASale’s partner merchants grant generous commission rates that can kick dust into Amazon’s face. With above-average commissions ranging from 10% to 40%, some products can even give you a payout of $300 for a single sale.
As compared to Amazon’s measly 24-hour cookie duration, ShareASale guarantees you with commissions for purchases made within 12 months after a visitor clicks on your affiliate link. There are even partner merchants who take note of each referring marketer’s ID next to each customer’s profile, granting you a lifetime-worth of bonuses.
CommissionJunction – CJ.com
Having been established for about as long as Amazon itself, CJ.com has been a popular choice for retailers of physical products. In fact, it has been recognized with the 2019 Influencer Marketing Award for Best Relationship Management Tool.
It also has a global reach thanks to over 3,000 merchants with a total inventory of millions of products, able to serve customers from over 240 countries. Even big brands like GoPro, Barnes & Noble, Lowe’s, and J. Crew established their shops here.
CJ.com is ideal for authority site owners in the niches of health and wellness, pets, beauty, fashion, and outdoors.
However, it’s worthy to note that newer websites might find it difficult to get approved. Integrating this affiliate program into your pages also involves a bit of a learning curve. Don’t fret, CJ.com provides its partners with informative newsletters jampacked with partnership opportunities, best practices, and strategies.
Other notable features provided by CJ.com to its affiliate marketers include:
- Deeplink generator
- Product widgets
- Cross-device tracking
- Performance reporting
- Placements marketplace
CJ.com acts as a mediator between merchants and affiliates, empowering you to be more in control of the brands you pick. Commission rates will vary depending on the product and company you sign up for.
Although merchants call the shots, referral bonuses are pretty similar across varied brands. Take for example fitness equipment companies like BowFlex and NordicTrack who grant a commission rate of 7%. Quite an upgrade to Amazon’s 3% offer, if you ask me. Some affiliate programs here have above 40% payouts, which presents a rich inventory to pick and choose from.
This affiliate network actually boasts of a “Cookieless Tracking System.” After a user clicks on your link, any purchase they make within 30 days will grant you a commission. In most cases this will depend on the specific program you are applying to, but this is generally much better than the 24 hour window that you get with Amazon.
Linkshare got rebranded and took the form of Rakuten, a popular affiliate platform that’s home to over 150,000 marketers and influencers. As a testament to its quality of service, mThink hailed this network as the #1 Affiliate Marketing Network for nine straight years after surveying over 25,000 advertisers, agencies, and publishers.
Rakuten also hosts Walmart’s affiliate program. Even better, influencers can get access to the likes of New Balance, Sephora, Jansport, Best Buy, and a lot more best-selling brands. The portal boasts of having processed over 110 million orders from all over the world. Neat, right?
This affiliate marketing network will work best for those passionate about the following niches: electronics, clothing, shoes and accessories, home and outdoor, sports and fitness, and beauty and personal care.
As with other affiliate networks, Rakuten allows its partner brands to determine their own commission rates for each product. You can prioritize sales volume and settle with the likes of Best Buy who offers only 1%, or you can drive traffic for higher referral bonuses with companies such as Dyson who grants at least 5% commission rates.
Rakuten affiliate marketers enjoy a mix of both session and persistent cookies. Session cookies are limited to the entire browsing session of a user, while persistent cookies can track your readers’ shopping activity for up to two years. That leaves Amazon’s 24-hour cookie duration in the dust.
AWIN – Best European Affiliate Program
AWIN is an underrated network of over 14,600 brands and 205,000 marketers. In 2019 alone, it has processed about 147 million individual sales which granted USD 901 million worth of commissions to its affiliates. This platform is trusted by popular brands such as Forbes, Etsy, HP, Buzzfeed, and Emirates.
AWIN is an attractive choice for authority sites specializing in travel, telecom, finance, insurance, and retail niches.
Marketers swear by AWIN’s convenient application process and user-friendly interface. It even has a couple of tools and widgets to help you get started. However, payouts can take quite a while. You’d usually have to wait 30 to 45 days after a successful sale to receive your commission.
AWIN also provides the following assistance to its marketers:
- Easy navigation through brand profiles
- Deeplink generator
- Regular newsletter releases
- Performance trackers
- Advanced optimization tools (e.g. automated integration of brand information to your website, real-time tracking, etc.)
Similar to other affiliate networks on this list, AWIN’s partner brands have varying commission rates for each product they offer. Amazon is no match to this platform’s above average commission rates! There are merchants who grant up to 50% referral bonuses, while most companies let you earn about 10%.
Moreover, the commission rates you get will depend on the revenue model you choose. You can either opt to gain income based on cost per sale, cost per lead, or cost per action.
From when your visitor clicks on an affiliate link, AWIN gives you the chance to get commissions within 30 days. It isn’t that impressive when compared to ShareASale’s 12-month cookie duration or Rakuten’s 2-year persistent tracking, but it’s still a noteworthy improvement to that of Amazon.
Impact Radius – Impact.com
The brains behind CJ.com also developed Impact Radius in 2008, promising to revolutionize ad management and media partnerships. It now serves as a global market for brands and affiliate marketers alike, hosting over 500 offers for both digital and physical products.
Impact Radius has turned heads with its fraud prevention functions, enabling the network to detect affiliate marketing no-no’s such as proxies, device manipulation, cookie stuffing, and same user agents. What’s more, its partners get to enjoy the following perks:
- Precise budget and commission calculator
- Accessible reports supported by automated notifications in the event that your performance metrics detect significant changes
- Generous supply of reference materials, including webinars and case studies.
- Migration assistance to help you move from your current affiliate network to theirs
- Cross-device solutions that allow you to track customer interactions across varied gadgets
Impact Radius grants you access to multiple affiliate programs with different commission rates. With a little bit of effort, you’ll find brands that grant impressive bonuses such as:
- NordVPN – 100% commission rate for one-month plans, 40% for all other subscription packages, and 30% for plan renewals
- Adidas – 7% commission rates. Compare that with Amazon’s measly 3% bonus for products in the sports niche
- Hostgator – Commissions ranging $15 to $125 for each user sign up
- Envato – Fixed bonus of $120 for annual plans and $60 for one-month subscriptions
Cookie durations also depend on the brand and the affiliate program they support. For instance, NordVPN grants you links that are good for 30 days, while Addidas, Hostgator and Envato’s can last up to 60 days.
Skimlinks – Highest Inventory of Affiliate Programs
Promising to save you time and help you earn higher commission rates than usual, Skimlinks can automatically create links for over 48,500 merchants across 50 affiliate networks such as Rakuten, AWIN, and CJ.com. It can basically transform your ordinary link into one that can work for your passive revenue streams.
Forget the hassle of negotiating with merchants just to get a decent commission rate. Subscribing to Skimlinks lets you skip a lot of steps that can take you months to set up.
What we love the most about Skimlinks is that it can grant you higher commission rates than usual for the same brands. Jon from Fatstacks shared that while manual negotiations let him earn a 5% bonus, seeking this affiliate network’s help bumped that up to 6.75% to 9%.
Although being Skimlinks is free, you’ll have to give them a 25% share of your commissions. Let’s assume that your partner merchant processed a $100 sale thanks to your referral. If the brand gave you a 10% commission ($10), the affiliate network will take $2.50 as a fee.
Merchants call the shots for their cookies’ duration. Some are good for a couple of days, while there are brands whose tracking capacity lasts for up to two years.
Best Niche Affiliate Programs
Chewy.com – The best pet affiliate program
For those with an undying love for pets, you might want to check out Chewy’s affiliate program. As a shopping platform division of Petsmart with a 12 billion market cap, it houses over 1,000 brands for dogs, cats, and other pet supplies. You can make the most out of their loyal fan base of repeat customers.
Partnering with Chewy is relatively easy. After getting your online application approved, you will receive step by step directions on how to get your account started. They even have an in-house affiliate team who are ready to provide you with 1:1 support and answer all of your questions.
Moreover, you can access its reporting interface that allows you to generate tracking links, follow referred orders in real-time, evaluate your performance, and optimize your strategy.
A case study revealed that joining Chewy can increase your average visitor value by 1.8 times in just four months, thanks to higher commission rates granted. Instead of totally scrapping Amazon off their website, the researcher opted to add new products from Chewy instead. Even though affiliate link click rates were lower compared to when they were only dependent on Amazon, the website’s monthly revenue surprisingly soared from about $7,500 to $15,000. And guess what – approximately 60% of that income came from Chewy’s affiliate products!
Chewy’s affiliate program differs from that of most networks or brands. Instead of rewarding you for individual sales, you will have to help them with lead generation. Every time you send a pet owner who’s new to their shopping platform, you will receive a fixed bonus of $15. For your referral to qualify, the user must not have made a purchase from Chewy since 2012. You will receive your paycheck on a monthly basis through a check or via wire transfer.
Chewy’s cookies are powered by Partnerize who helps them facilitate each referral’s tracking, reporting, and payment. Once a new customer signs up at Chewy through your affiliate link, you will receive your $15 bonus if they make a purchase within 15 days.
Wayfair.com – The best kitchen and home affiliate program
Wayfair is a huge name in the kitchen and home furniture industry, serving as a portal to over 10,000 suppliers and more than 7 million products. Regardless of your specific niche, there’d surely be a brand category fit for your monetization strategy.
This affiliate program prohibits affiliate marketers from using ads to directly drive traffic towards their online shop. You’d have to establish your authority site’s influence to earn money. Here’s a tip: help your visitors visualize what you’re recommending with quality pictures. You can either embed them on your articles itself, or nurture your presence on image sharing platforms such as Pinterest.
As compared to Amazon’s 3% commission rate for furniture, Wayfair takes the lead with its offer of 7%. However, you won’t earn any bonus of the customer you’ve referred to their site orders through their Wayfair Pro account.
Wayfair also outperforms Amazon in terms of cookie duration, matching the big boss’ 24-hour limit with affiliate links that last for seven days.
eBay.com – The best multi-niche, physical product affiliate program
By partnering with eBay, you can tap into their market that’s 182 million users strong. Count on its 1.3 billion listings to find the best products to recommend for your niche sites, supported by free shipping options that can incentivize buyers to click that buy now button.
eBay isn’t that picky when it comes to approving applications. Even newbies in affiliate marketing who has little to no traffic so far can get their passive revenue streams started. Moreover, you can withdraw your commissions fast with its low payout threshold. While Amazon requires a minimum of $100, you can request to be paid if you’ve earned at least 10 units of your home currency (e.g. $10, €10, etc.).
According to Oberlo, the top-selling categories on eBay include electronics and accessories, clothing, automotive, health and beauty, and sports and outdoors.
eBay is among the leading affiliate programs when it comes to attractive commission rates, granting a 50% to 70% bonus from the site’s revenue share. What’s more, your earnings will be doubled for each sale closed with a buyer who hasn’t made a purchase in the last 12 months before clicking on your affiliate link.
eBay’s partnership network’s affiliate links generally last for 24 hours just like Amazon’s. You can earn commissions in either of the two scenarios:
- Your referred user makes a successful purchase within 24 hours after clicking your link
- Yout referred user bids on an auction within 24 hours after clicking your link then wins the product within 10 days
Moreover, eBay’s browser cookie is only good for each specific browser. If a customer clicked on your link via Google Chrome but bought an item through Firefox, you won’t earn any commission.
Walmart.com – A noteworthy mention for retail affiliate programs
Considered as an American success story, Walmart evolved from a small family store based in Arkansas in the 1960s to among the most popular global retailers. Now, the company supports its own affiliate program that enables marketers to recommend their top picks from over 75 million products provided by about 100,000 different suppliers. That equates to a lot of niches to choose from!
DMR Business Statistics reported that Walmart accommodates 275 million customers every week across 27 countries. Moreover, the company called dibs on 6% of the United States’ online sales of consumer goods.
Joining the Walmart affiliate program is quite easy. Its online application will simply ask you your personal details, company information, promotional methods (e.g. e-mail marketing, social media influencing, search engine marketing, etc.), and website details. On the same page, you’ll also be asked to read an overview of the terms and guidelines you’re expected to comply with.
Walmart’s commission rates aren’t that far from Amazon’s, with most product categories granting a 4% commission rate. Successful referral of postpaid phones also gives you earnings of $10 for each sale. However, there are niches with only 1% bonuses, including:
- Video Games
- Books & Other Media
- Photo & Personalized Services
- Everyday Living
In contrast with Amazon’s 24-hour cookie window, Walmart’s affiliate links are tracked for up to three days after a visitor clicks on yours.
TigerDirect – The best tech affiliate program
TigerDirect is a 20-year-old California-based online retailer specializing in computers, components, and electronics to satisfy businesses’ demands. In 2015, the company phased out all of its retail operations and focused on B2B sales instead.
However, you might want to know that there’s a growing concern about TigerDirect and if it’s going out of business. In 2019, the company closed all of its online business services based in Canada.
Although it supports applications in its own website, TigerDirect also participates in large affiliate networks such as Skimlinks, Viglinks, CJ.com, and Rakuten. Joining its program is free, and completing the application form will only take you a few minutes. You can also register multiple websites but be paid through a single check.
To support its affiliate marketers, TargetDirect provides multiple tools and content materials for you to easily set up their links on your authority site. You can also take advantage of their flash sales and seasonal discount extravaganzas to drive your sales volumes up.
According to its FAQs page, TigerDirect offers a 3% commission for each successful sale you facilitated. Not much of a difference with Amazon’s 1% to 4% rates, actually. However, its affiliate program boasts that its most successful marketers earn thousands every month after driving premium corporate customers into their website.
While Amazon’s 24-hour cookie duration doesn’t provide much room for customers to finalize big investments in computers and electronics, TargetDirect’s affiliate links last up to 14 days.
ClickBank.com – The best info-product affiliate network
Meet the so-called grandpa of affiliate networks, ClickBank. Having been in the market for 20 years, this platform has paid more than $4.2 billion worth of commissions to its family of marketers across 200 countries. Get ready to accommodate its 200 million-strong userbase who swears by the reliability of its marketplace.
ClickBank is a crowd favorite for buying and selling information products, including e-mail marketing software, audiobooks, and whitepapers. Dive into over 4,000 items available in its inventory to find the best digital and physical goodies fit for your niche. Among the leading categories on this platform include arts and entertainment, e-business and e-marketing, games, and parenting.
After you get yourself comfortable with ClickBank’s affiliate program, you can also expand your network with their leading marketers. Learn the best practices from the best in your niche!
Moreover, ClickBank provides comprehensive reports and analytics for you to track your successful sales and subscriptions.
Amazon’s commissions structure is no match to ClickBank. Imagine, you can earn as much as 90% bonus rates! There are even merchants who offer recurring commissions for as long as a customer retains his subscription.
Commissions are generally above average, but I suggest not to go lower than 40% if you want the biggest paychecks possible.
The period for how long cookies will last depends from one vendor to another. Some of ClickBank’s links are good for an average of 60 days, while there are also attributions that are set for life. Unless a user clicks on someone else’s affiliate link, you don’t have to worry about letting customers off your hook.
JvZoo.com – The best software affiliate network
If recommending digital products is your jam, JvZoo is definitely worth it to check. Its platform allows software developers, event organizers, coaches, book authors, and other similar vendors to promote their products through its network of over 800,000 affiliate marketers. Over the years, this network has processed over $1.2 billion in referred sales.
What I love the most about JvZoo is that you’re practically free to market their products in any way you like. While other affiliate networks require a fully operational website, this platform allows you to post your links and earn through e-mails, comments, YouTube videos, forums, podcasts, and a whole lot more.
Even better, JvZoo guarantees automatic commission payouts for every sale processed. You can also generate insightful reports to evaluate your affiliate marketing performance.
JvZoo pays its affiliate marketers on a cost per sale and a cost per click basis, with above-average rates depending on each vendor. When scouting for products to recommend, try not to go lower than 50%!
Moreover, JvZoo is absolutely free to use and it will not get a cut from your commissions.
Sure, Amazon’s granted commissions for entire shopping carts seem so enticing at first, but wait until you learn about JvZoo’s cookie duration. Each referral you make for a merchant will be indexed for life! This means that you can earn commissions from all purchases and subscriptions a customer makes for the rest of that vendor’s days.
With the recent adjustment in Amazon’s commission structure, more and more marketers found its affiliate program not worth the effort. Pennies for payouts? Extremely short cookie window? For the most affected niches, the platform’s humongous user base and its trusted reputation barely matter anymore.
If you’re one of these frustrated affiliate marketers, make sure to scout for alternative affiliate networks and programs that can offer higher commissions and longer cookie duration. Be sure to check its best-selling niches and inventory size too!
Is your favorite alternative to Amazon’s Affiliate Program not in our list? We’d love to hear about your top picks in the comments below!