Amazon Affiliate Marketing Program

Why Amazon ditched its affiliate store feature

Why Amazon ditched its affiliate store feature
Written by publishing team

Not everything Amazon touches turns into gold. Amazon is officially retiring from feature affiliate aStore after years of disappointing revenue streams. The feature, which Amazon will close on October 27, provides Amazon affiliates with the ability to generate revenue from placing their Amazon stores directly on their websites.

Amazon integrated aStore into its Amazon Affiliates program in August 2006 with the idea that followers of influencers and their blogs would like to purchase Amazon products referenced on those sites. By clicking on a product from aStore on a website, users are redirected to Amazon.com, where they can make a purchase. Marketers then get discounts ranging from zero to 10 percent, depending on the category of the item. For example, affiliates see no compensation on sales of wine products and Amazon gift cards, but 10 percent of the sale from categories like Amazon Women of Fashion and Luxury Beauty.

aStore’s retirement comes at the same time that Amazon is increasing its involvement with influencers. In March, Amazon created the Amazon Influencer Program for YouTube Celebrities. Amazon influencers receive custom URLs for stores that they can curate within Amazon, so their followers can see products they recommend from Amazon. This is similar to the concept of aStore for affiliates. The move to close the affiliate store model could be seen as Amazon’s endorsement of influencers as the backbone of their own affiliate network, according to Cooper Smith, director of Amazon research at business research firm L2.

“Amazon decided to hit the refresh button on the aStore concept and get it into the influencer program, which has even greater potential as an affiliate network due to its roots in social media and video,” Smith said.

Several affiliates said they either dropped their stores or didn’t update them due to disappointing levels of engagement and sales. Amazon said the same in aStores “retirement” fact sheet. Influencer stores also give Amazon the ability to track how many people click to view these curated stores, whereas only affiliates had this information before. Amazon will likely continue to pressure the use of influencers. In July, it launched Amazon Spark, a social feed for Amazon Prime users that influencers describe as a cross between Pinterest and Instagram. So far, Amazon has been compensating a select few influencers from its Influencer program for creating #sponsored posts for the feed, but overall, the platform hasn’t been helpful to influencers in general in terms of reach and compensation.

“Affiliate marketing often has this feeling of being more engaging and merchandising,” said Ashley Banks, director of strategy and digital media at Iced Media, while influencers, because they have built such trust and authenticity, seem to be only talking about the products they want to share.

Influencer Justin Livingston, who has over 400,000 followers on his social channels and millions of visitors to his lifestyle blog each month, said he stopped using aStore nine months ago. Livingston discovered that even in the months he heavily promoted his store, he was only earning $400 to $500 a month, just under 2 percent of the nearly $50,000 he earns a month from sponsorship and other affiliate programs.

“While it was nice to have the breadth of Amazon’s marketplace come in handy, I found that commission rates were often very low, which made the effort to use the aStore functionality not worth the time,” Livingston said.

Why Amazon ditched its affiliate store feature

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