In the world of e-commerce research is available to the consumer about every product. As a result, companies have sought assistance in driving traffic, building a brand and creating demand. The success of the affiliate model among the ecommerce business models shows the success of the monetisation of this side of the customer journey.

The affiliate model has sprung up in fashion blogs especially as influencers guide users to e-commerce sites for a fee. Two favourites promoting the affiliate model in fashion are ShopStyle and RewardStyle. These options provide credit for sites driving traffic and act as intermediaries between influencers and e-retailers. They also channel funds to influencers.

What’s new in the affiliate space is the move into online communities such as Instagram and Twitter. These communities provide opportunities to gain a greater understanding of their customers by enabling profiles to be linked directly to purchases. The evolution of affiliate links from communities (and associated profiles) will likely become a standard input in the Customer Journey as this trend develops further. Companies will be able to better categorise customers based on their personal profiles and the platforms they come from.

(Note: digital culture is changing the way retailers need to operate – Building the Digital Experience)

It is worth noting that one of the world’s largest retailers has the world’s largest affiliate programme: Amazon. Two other large affiliate programmes for general retail are eBay and LinkShare – each platform has well-defined processes and well-designed user interfaces.

For more on ecommerce, we’ve outlined the website business models of the major players in the digital sandbox.

Website business model Description Examples
Brokerage Facilitate transactions; usually charges a fee or commission for each transaction it enables. Orbitz, CarsDirect, Priceline, eBay, PayPal, Amazon
Advertising Web advertising; an extension of the traditional media broadcast model Yahoo!, Monster,  NYTimes, Google
Infomediary Data about consumers, products and consumption patterns; for targeted campaigns DoubleClick, Nielson, Edmunds
Merchant* Wholesalers and retailers of goods and services Amazon, Debenhams, Ocado, Apple iTunes
Manufacturer Manufacturer “direct model”; using the web to vertically integrate Dell, Ford
Offers financial incentives (revenue %) to affiliated partner sites ShopStyle or RewardStyle and associated blogs
Community* Users build time and emotion attachment; sale of products/services or voluntary contributions Instagram, Wikipedia, Flickr
Subscription Users are charged a periodic fee; freemium often used Netflix, the Economist, Amazon Prime
Utility On-demand/ pay as you go Internet service providers

*covered in the article

Quinn Dempsey

Read more:

Building the Digital Experience

Business Models on the Web

E-Commerce: An Introduction

Shopstyle vs. Rewardstyle Affiliate Links

How Style Bloggers Earn Sale Commissions, One Click at a Time

The 4 Best Affiliate Programs for Online Marketers


*This article has been edited 25/01/2016*