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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador cditty's Avatar
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    This post is directed to merchants in general and not any particular merchant. If you are a merchant and think this post is about you, it is not. This is a general question coming from an affiliate who would like some honest answers. And this is also not a post trying to sell my service. This post has been approved by Haiko in advance.

    Why do merchants say they are interested in helping us affiliates sell more and move to the "next level", but when a viable and affordable solution to offer datafeeds free of charge to the affiliates is offered, they simply reply, "We are not interested." or "We just don't have enough items for this to work" or "We already make that information available to our affiliates on a daily, weekly, monthly basis through X network." or "Our own people can do this already." or any number of other excuses.

    Affiliates are begging for access to datafeeds. Datafeeds are hot right now. Affiliates should not be forced to pay for information that is needed in order to sell for you, the merchant. This information should be made available to them free of charge. Affiliates are turning to merchants that give them the tools they need to produce more sales.

    Merchants, why do you say one thing and then do another when the tools are made available to you to help us? Do you not want your program to grow? You are not the only game in town when it comes to products. We want to sell for you.

    Affiliates, please do not make posts in this thread saying how datafeeds are evil and how they will ruin search engine rankings, because the feed can be place in the middle of a content sites pages. I want honest answers from the merchants for those of us that DO want the datafeeds and can use them.

    Thank you for reading.

    Chris

    ----------------------------
    <FONT SIZE=1>ezDatafeed.com - Merchants - Give your affiliates your datafeed outside the networks, without cost to the affiliate. Check out ezDatafeed.com for more information.
    Scriptsforyoursite.com - Featuring datafeed import scripts for Backcountry Store, Coldwater Creek, Mondera.com and many more.....</font>

  2. #2
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    Chris,

    I am a merchant and affiliate, I cannot speak for everyone but I did ask that question to a few merchants on the phone. Answers I received were simple actually.

    Financially not viable. (same for me)

    Some merchants cannot afford the staff it requires to turn what they use for a database into a usable database for affiliates. CJ offers to do it but at a cost of $750 and $250 per feed. (does not include initial joining of there network)

    The big problem for all I spoke with was cost. As some would say you need to spend money to make money. BUT.....

    Not all companies can afford it right now, most companies have a budget and live by it weather they like it or not!

  3. #3
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    Sounds like someone isn't quite getting the response that he expected for his new service.

  4. #4
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    Poor XXX(merchant) is doing there feed manually, I all but freaked when I learned that.

    It’s all new to some and not cost effective to others. But it is definitely not for wanting to help!

  5. #5
    ABW Veteran Student Heyder's Avatar
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    I think it's likely that many companies are having a harder time deciding to release their datafeeds than actually producing one.

  6. #6
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    Heyder it’s not as easy as some would think.

    One you need the software to change over your cart software into a data feed that is usable.

    To change over your cart database you need software or a programmer that can accomplish this task. (Hire a programmer $$$)

    Then you need to ensure your data feed is up-to-date.

    100 people sold a sock you sell, your feed went out on Monday you’re out of socks on Wednesday and it will be Thursday before you can expect more. Who would have known those socks that never sell hit it good.

    So many variables most people never see. It’s never as easy as people think, and to make it seem so is not right!

    I left out about 100 other steps in that process and still did not speak about cost options. So much and to say is more likely a decision. Ya a decision how do we look with bad links, is this a good thing, how much does it cost, do we hire a programmer or buy software and hire a data entry person... and the list goes on and on and on.


    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>I think it's likely that many companies are having a harder time deciding to release their data feeds than actually producing one. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Is just minimizing a serious and costly decision.

  7. #7
    ABW Veteran Student Heyder's Avatar
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    I know full well what's involved Sandra and that's why I stand behind my statement.

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador cditty's Avatar
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    I just want to clarify this. This post is not meant for average merchants. This post is for those merchants that make statements like we want to help and we are here to help, not the average merchant.

    Thanks Sandra, I didn't realize you were a merchant. Thanks for the insider view.

    Pete, Thanks for your, uh, words. I hope that you never hear one thing on the boards and then another thing directly from the merchant. Like I said, I didn't start this thread to sell something. I'm asking as an AFFILIATE not salesperson.

    Chris

    ----------------------------
    <FONT SIZE=1>ezDatafeed.com - Merchants - Give your affiliates your datafeed outside the networks, without cost to the affiliate. Check out ezDatafeed.com for more information.
    Scriptsforyoursite.com - Featuring datafeed import scripts for Backcountry Store, Coldwater Creek, Mondera.com and many more.....</font>

  9. #9
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    Have a good example for you Hyder.

    JCWhitney, what do we hear, I do not have the techs or the techs time to get it done. MONEY!

    They are not saying we are not sure. its always no time Meaning NO MONEY!

    The company Managers that want to do it have to have the expense budgeted and stats to prove the money will be spent in a profitable and viable increase in profit.

    It’s always about money!

  10. #10
    ABW Veteran Student Heyder's Avatar
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    I know Sandra but you um ah are not realizing what I meant by what I said. We are agreeing not disagreeing. If you want to argue we can but neither of us will win since we are saying the same things in our own words. Well maybe not quite agreeing as you've brought up more points than I mentioned.

  11. #11
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    Ohh sorry I am reading you wrong then.


    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>I think it's likely that many companies are having a harder time deciding to release their data feeds than actually producing one. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I read that as it’s all about decision to release a feed and nothing to do with a viable choice. Money

    Numerous posts about how data feeds kill the market it should be thought over seriously before releasing the feed. yada yada yada...


    My error if I am reading this wrong. Better get a beer and call it a night!

  12. #12
    ABW Veteran Student Heyder's Avatar
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    Guess I just didn't get it printed the way I intended. My intentions were to point out the actual decision more so than the actual work. As anyone knows getting a decision out of a company to do something can take quite a bit of time. We on the bottom end of those decisions sit back and wonder what is taking so long without realizing how many factors are involved in the process.

    (Added)

    All in all though this goes back to the reason Cditty made this post. He can make it fairly easy for a merchant to provide a datafeed. So the question is why don't they do it?

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador flamingoworld's Avatar
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    I think some merchants may be waiting to see how it works out for other companies before making a decision. And maybe they are leary of what affiliates may do with the datafeeds. They may not want a bunch of clone sites.
    I know some affiliates are really doing some neat stuff with them, myself included (coming soon!) But some are just cloning the merchant site.
    There are also ways the datafeeds can be misused.
    I do not think this is a decision a company can make without a lot of thought.

    Connie Berg
    http://www.flamingoworld.com


  14. #14
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    I'd have to agree with Heyder on this.

    We own three e-commerce sites and one extremely successful affiliate site. We will be starting two affiliate programs in Sept for two of our e-commerce sites, most likely through Shareasale. We actually plan to offer datafeeds from the very start.

    Just about every e-commerce and shopping cart script offers the ability to export to ASCII format fairly easily and inexpensively. Any web site that has any type of database on the backend can undoubtly do it. In most cases, updating feeds on a weekly basis is fair and adequate for most merchants and affiliates alike. I can't imagine any shopping cart could handle integration of an affiliate program and not have a database behind it or the ability to export product data.

    This is not directed toward any particular merchant. However, those merchants claiming that cost is the reason they do not provide feeds are not really exploring all the options available to them. If the problem is the cost with CJ, offer your feed outside of CJ, but with the CJ codes incorporated into the data - not hard to do at all. If the problem is personpower, again, updating a datafeed weekly is more than fair and adequate to both the merchant and the affiliate -- Even huge merchants like Amazon and drugstore.com have products listed that are marked out-of-stock once in a while.

    I AM A MARKETER, NOT A PROGRAMMER. I started my businesses with very, very little money. As such, necessity is and has always been the mother of invention for me. If the technical end of things is the hinderance to offering a datafeed, have a programmer create a solution for you. It is pretty easy to find an extremely inexpensive programmer at RentACoder.com to create a script to handle exporting the data from a database - it is a very easy process and requires a very low-level of additional parsing to add the affiliate coding info to the data. Again, the investment will be minimal.

    Sorry if my tone in this message offends anyone. Again, I started on less than a shoestring and with no technical ability. However, we find or make the solutions we need to buld our business, rather than making excuses for not doing it.

    Maria

  15. #15
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    Its about the Money!

    Ask poor Ryan of Wonderfulbuys. He is working me over about online tech suport. Poor guy I am still thinking! Its all about the money, its always all about the money.

    But that is JMO

  16. #16
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    Affiliates must remember that the merchants are not just one person. They are a collection of departments overseen by a ceo monitored by a cfo and overseen by a board answering to stockholders. Affiliates must remember that a lot of politics goes on behind the scenes. Luckily I have a lot of power within my company, but each time I implement something to increase affiliate revenue, it effects a whole lot of people on the other end. Tech support, programmers, sales, finance. Even when the battles are fought and won, the implementation can take time. The bigger the company, the more inertia that has to be overcome.

    Slamming merchants because they choose not to implement datafeeds is unfair. Not everyone sees things in exactly the same way. The most important thing is that they treat affiliates fairly.

    Our product does not lend itself well to datafeeds but we will not put roadblocks up that prevent affiliates from using their creativity and unique view of the world to promote our product. We allow them to copy anything off of our website they please.

    We believe that 10,000 heads are better than one. We do not want 10,000 heads thinking as one. Kudos to those affiliates who can use datafeeds in their own unique way. But you must remember that affiliate managers are dealing with thousands of affiliates and they can't monitor all of them continuously.



    Retired Member

  17. #17
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by SandraR:
    Its about the Money!


    But that is JMO <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Isn't the money the reason why we are all here?

    Retired Member

  18. #18
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    Kudos excellently said!

  19. #19
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    if it helps sell products, then what is the problem?

    but hey, if it is more financially viable to hire an AM rather than a programmer.....

  20. #20
    pph Expert! Gordon's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> CJ offers to do it but at a cost of $750 and $250 per feed
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Do you mean to say that CJ has the bloody gall to charge this much for the rubbish they give us to work with?
    I can remember from the days before I had any idea what to do with a datafeed that their datafeeds used to be far better and more user friendly than they are now. The categories were very good a couple of years back, now you have to make your own for most of the feeds.

    I can only asume it must be something to do with the parasites wanting them to be done diferently that caused them to change.

    I got my t-shirt
    Did I win the 200,000 post?
    Take care
    YouTrek.com

  21. #21
    ABW Ambassador Sam Bay's Avatar
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    The current miuse of datafeeds by most affiliates may be the reason why all merchants are not so eager to offer datafeeds.

    Smart business people do not only look at current uptick in the sales, but they also consider long-term consequences to their business especially their brand.

    If I was merchant, I'd offer my product database to those affiliates who wants it, but would continually check to make sure they're using to mutual benefit, not to harm my business at my expense.

  22. #22
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    cditty
    I apologize for answering your post apparently you ended up with the posts you did not want.

    I hope you get the answers you want.

  23. #23
    Chief Betty Victor Hanna's Avatar
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    Aside from internal company politics and technical limitations, can anyone cite a case(s) where a datafeed has caused a merchant(s) a great deal of branding problems or similar heartburn?

    I've yet to see a downside to providing a datafeed, but I'll be the first to admit, we just recently released ours.

    So far all I can see is upside but perhaps I'm missing something. Affiliates have to be able to generate enough commissions to stay with a merchant for the long haul and to finance the site upkeep. I don't see how else this is possible without fully leveraging the strengths of both the merchant- who can produce a rich datafeed, and the affiliate who can build a well designed site and optimize the pages for the engines.

    I haven't been on the ABW board long enough to know all the issues, so please spare me if my post is a gross display of ignorance.

    Regards,

    Victor Hanna
    The BettyMills Company
    http://www.BettyMills.com
    http://affiliates.bettymills.com/
    The BettyMills ABW Forum

  24. #24
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Victor said: "Affiliates have to be able to generate enough commissions to stay with a merchant for the long haul and to finance the site upkeep. I don't see how else this is possible without fully leveraging the strengths of both the merchant- who can produce a rich datafeed, and the affiliate who can build a well designed site and optimize the pages for the engines."

    Here-in lies the controversy over decisions on providing datafeeds. Let's assume we are dealing with the minority of merchants who actually do stock and fulfill product orders. Most aggregate ecatalog offerings from multiple drop ship suppliers.

    Out of the thousands of affiliates of the real merchants only a handful are capable of building well designed unique sites with datafeed pages optimized for the SE's. (metatags, titles,keywords, confirming text content). The cream of the crop datafeed affiliate can bury his competition in the SE's and also at the page click level. Problem is it requires & also enables him to actually leapfrog the datafeed originators site as his/her goal. These datafeed pros now parallel 80% of the product merchants with an affiliate program with the advantage of more product selection....for just the cost of massaging a programming effort. All the benefits of posing as a merchant/product aggregrator without any of the costs or hassles of a real merchant.

    That is the upside. The downside is the hundreds of affiliates without these skills who will take feeds and just generate thousands of doorway pages as a spam tool for Goggle and keyword fodder for PPCSE's. The manufacturer BRAND, trademark model names, SKU's, pricing, retailer/reseller/consumer product descriptions, pictures are all demanded by affiliates within the datafeed.

    The professional, and not so professional affiliate, will do everything in their power to control the SE listings for their newly minted 20,000 page web site. Rightfully demanding the real merchant update daily their pages just like they do on the merchant's own sites.

    Cditty makes and sells a great tool to transform an affiliate into a merchant without the hassles of the "add to cart" button. He is running into the same problem when calling upon real merchants that affiliates seeking direct fulfillment drop ship suppliers have on the phone. Hello Mr HME medical equipment distributor ...Hello Mr Skateboard Mfgr/distributor ...Hello Mr beauty supply distributor .....I'd like you to furnish me as a third party reseller your entire detailed product catalog (updated daily) in CVS format so I can birddog sales for your company. No I won't grant you exclusivity, pay for updates, or collect from or support the customers. That's your job. I just want to take the referral commission and build out 50 hot vertical consumer product sites as my goal by Christmas season is to have 1.2 million pages listed in Google.

    Mike & Charlie ...

    If they won't adopt and feed a bird ..flip them one! BBQ some Gator and remember to flush WhenU..

  25. #25
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    As much as I love datafeeds myself (more so for their ease of use in integrating with my database-driven sites than anything else), I've also seen how some affiliates have taken to using the various "merge" programs offered out there to abuse the resource.

    In fact, when designing our newly launched site/system (just completing beta-testing), one of the first things I incuded in the feature list was a dynamically-updated datafeed (this was about 6 months ago). Since that time, I've had my doubts whether or not it would be wise to make it available to all affiliates, or just ones that meet a certain criteria (i.e. a responsible site design/system, etc.)

    Having said that, looking at the uber-merchants (amazon, etc.) who allow automated acess to their products, I've decided that as long as the program is "actively" managed to protect our budding "brand", then a datafeed can be a valuable tool.

    As for the development expense alone being a reason to forego a datafeed, I don't find that to be a valid argument, as our datafeed added minimal cost to our system. While it may be a bit more expensive to add to a system after the fact, once it is implemented (and dynamically updated), I would think the technical-support aspects would be minimal, as long as you make it known that the datafeed is for use by "Advanced" affiliates only, as no support as to it's implementation will be available, etc.

    Erik

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