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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager
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    Too many voids
    Hi everyone,
    I've been gone for awhile but I'm back and our affiliate program is officially number one priority. I have a problem and was hoping to get some advice:

    I have an affiliate whose sales mostly end up voided because the items are discontinued. I believe it's because they have not been uploading the datafeed. I've tried to get in contact with them numerous times but no one is answering my emails and I cannot seem to find a phone number. A while back I did a promotion with the datafeed and they did not take advantage of it. They do bring in sales so I don't want to lose them but I have to void so many of those sales that I feel like it's hurting our program. What should I do?

  2. #2
    Newbie IAmMe's Avatar
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    December 22nd, 2006
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    You should update your website so that people can't purchase discontinued items.

  3. #3
    Affiliate Manager
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    Well, yes we always are. Products are being added and removed on a constant basis and we update the datafeed but what good does that do if the affiliate hasn't been uploading it?

  4. #4
    Newbie IAmMe's Avatar
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    Help me understand something. You have to void many sales. Do you mean that the customer has purchased something on your website, which you don't actually have in stock, so you have to void the sale (and void the SAS commission)?

    If this is the case, why not update YOUR website to not allow people to purchase things that you can't provide?

  5. #5
    Affiliate Manager
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    We do update our site but maybe I'm not understanding. Affiliates have to upload the datafeed so that any changes made on our site will reflect on theirs, right?

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    Customers can't buy things that you do not have for sale. Are you paying for leads? Is that why the 'sales' are voided?

    An affiliate can send you clicks from expired products but there can be no sale from that click if you no longer carry that product.

  7. #7
    Newbie IAmMe's Avatar
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    This is like pulling teeth..

    NEXT!

  8. #8
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    nsalman let me take a stab at this. My guess is that when you have a product that is no longer available you simply stop displaying the product on your site as opposed to removing the product. The advantage to this approach is that if/when the product becomes available again, you simply start displaying the product again. The downside is that if affiliates don't keep their datafeeds up to date they can still link to the unavailable product and since you haven't flagged the product in any way or blocked customer access, the customer can complete a purchase.

    What this scenario tells me is that you're site is totally bassakwards. First, out of stock products should be totally removed from the site if they will never be replenished or are discontinued. Out of stock products that will be replenished should show an "Out of Stock" or "Temporally Unavailable" state to the customer and your system should not allow out of stock products to be added to the cart. And what kind of inventory system are you using that allows products not in stock to be added to the cart anyway?

    At the very least you need to block users from out of stock products either manually or preferably through your inventory system in which case you could also recommend a similar product.

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  9. #9
    Affiliate Manager
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    We are pay per sale 2busy. Thanks rematt I absolutely understand. We use oscommerce. I simply click out of stock and to my knowledge at that point it should no longer be available for customers to add in their cart. So what your saying is thats not actually removing the item. Sorry Iamme I understood what you were saying but you only told me to update my site and to my knowledge, updating the site meant making sure items were listed as out of stock. Also there was some confusion because I have about 6 affiliates who bring in most of the sales. And this specific affiliate is the only one whose sales end up voided. I'll go in the backend and delete the discontinued items altogether and see if that makes a difference. It could just be coincidence I guess.

  10. #10
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    From: More Configuring osCommerce

    Define how you want to work with your stock in your osCommerce store in the "Stock" section of the configurations. You can define:
    • Check stock level - have the store check for sufficient stock
    • Subtract stock - have the store subtract stock as it's ordered by customers
    • Allow checkout - allow customers to checkout even if there is not sufficient stock
    • Mark product out of stock - place a visible marker on the page when it is out of stock
    • Stock re-order level - when a re-order should be placed
    You may want to take a look at these parameters within osCommerce. It's possible that one or more isn't configured properly.

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  11. #11
    Affiliate Manager
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    Thanks Rematt! I really appreciate this.

  12. #12
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    This is an interesting thread to read through -- as I read each of nsalman's posts, I was prepared to reply but then the very next post said exactly what I'd expected.

    The initial problem was stated as being one of communicating with an unresponsive affiliate, certainly a valid concern. The "problem" is that this affiliate has been driving customers and transactions -- but unfortunately for products that are no longer available.

    As mentioned, the "real problem" (the most important problem, with the simplest solution) was a misconfiguration of the shopping cart.

    I would certainly add the suggestion to implement effective "redirection" of the existing links to discontinued products -- either redirecting to a different product page, a category page, or a special page created just for that traffic. (The traffic should NOT be sent to a 404-error page, nor is the home page likely to be the best destination.)

    The issue of "stale datafeed content" is a complex one. You don't want to terminate the affiliate or disable the links, because these are prospective customers who want to buy from you. Probably the worst problem would be if the site displaying data from your old datafeed is displaying pricing that's lower than you can now offer -- this can create consumer resentment and anger.

    An obvious thought is to contact the network to ask for help communicating with the affiliate. (I assume you've already tried looking for contact info on the affiliate site and WHOIS data, without success.)

    If you can't otherwise reach the affiliate, consider inserting "URGENT - CONTACT US" messages into the transaction reversals. Another "last resort" option is to lower the affiliate's commission rate to 0% -- this might get their attention, but they might just remove your links instead of contacting you.

  13. #13
    Affiliate Manager
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    Thanks. We have a backoffice who updates our online product inventory and pricing. I am checking into that right now. I'm also checking in on fixing the misconfiguration of the shopping cart. I've contacted them numerous times. I like your idea of inserting Urgent-Contact Us. I don't know why I didn't think of that ! Thanks for the advice, it really helped!

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