Affiliate Channels Attract Global Buying, Tailored Marketing Programs

The Internet continues to make the world smaller for affiliate marketers, but there are physical challenges that brands need to overcome. Shipping costs, duties and taxes are the biggest objection to buying products online from companies that are physically located in other countries.

Some 68% of affiliate channel shoppers made an online purchase from a company outside of their own in the past year, according to the Forrester Research study, commissioned by Rakuten LinkShare and released Tuesday. Some 75% of U.K. shoppers, 78% of Australian and nearly 85% of Canadian shoppers have done so.

The affiliate marketing channel can grow to support cross-border commerce when marketers tailor programs for specific countries, according to the report. Some might want to cut physical costs by building products in a new markets that piggyback on the shoulders of well-known local affiliate networks and publishing partners.

The Forrester/Rakuten study explores opportunities and challenges associated with cross-border selling through the affiliate channel by analyzing the behavior of 2,574 online shoppers across Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The findings also integrate feedback from advertising and publishing execs who are managing affiliate programs or are in the process of preparing to expand internationally.

This year, eMarketer estimates ecommerce will grow 18.3% to $1.298 trillion worldwide, as Asia-Pacific surpasses North America to become the world's No. 1 market for B2C sales.

Shoppers welcome affiliate channels in the United States by spending more time and money online compared with most. Consumers starting research on affiliate sites spent slightly more on average online last year $1,617 vs. $1,547, respectively. Among frequent travel and financial site shoppers, the per-person amount rose to $2,067 vs. $2,094, compared with the average person at $1,547.

Nearly 2:1, U.S. affiliate shoppers surveyed across all countries said they are more loyal to brands -- and in particular, 3.5:1 shoppers insist they are more loyal to brands that make offers available on multiple country Web sites. When it comes to shipping costs, U.K. advertisers face challenges when selling to U.S. consumers. While U.S. advertisers have an easier time connecting with U.S. consumers, those in the U.K. say shipping costs put a damper on sales into the U.S.

Consumers who shop on U.K. affiliate sites will spend 28% more online than the average shopper. About 61% said they would reconsider making a purchase in an online cart after abandoning the page and closing the browser, compared with 11% who said they would not.

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