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  1. #1
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    Staples, 0%-7% Commission, WOW This Deal Wins the Patheticity Prize
    If anyone ever wonders what's wrong with Big Brand merchants, let this post stand as testament to the lousiness of some of those programs.

    I just got an offer in my acc't manager from Staples, so I checked it out. (After checking, I also found a recruitment email in my inbox.)

    First, it says, 1%-7% commissions. HA HA over my dead keyboard, so that's out. But I decide to look at their item lists anyway, just for fun.

    And I find that the lowest commission is NOT even 1%! It's ZERO PERCENT!

    So I decide to see what's on the "no-compensation" list.
    First, there's a list of things like extended service agreements. Now. Extended service agreements are almost PURE PROFIT (according to the Wall St. Journal and other sources I've read) so I know right away that this merchant is at the very depths of record-breaking cheapskatism.

    But then I see other things on the ZERO PERCENT list, like:

    CHECKS!
    Custom stamps
    Printing of other types
    Custom CALENDARS

    Direct-delivered FURNITURE! Furniture! Unbelievable...
    Store supplies: UNIFORMS
    Store supplies: Register tape (this is something physical merchants will buy lots of, and repeatedly!)

    And several items that they use the excuse of not being the direct seller to avoid paying on. As if it matters whether it hit their warehouse first or not. If it matters at all, it'd be cheaper for them to do the dropships, because then they don't have to store, pack, and ship it themselves!

    So for the "convenience" of having all this stuff on our sites from one merchant, we get...NOTHING, NADA, AND ZILCH! Wow, what a deal! NOT!

    Okay, those 0% things are pure unadulterated ripoffs. So, what is there for 1%?

    Luggage(!)
    Software
    Digital Cameras (wow, sell a $300 cam and get 3 BUCKS! Woopeeeee!)

    Basically anything that would have been worth selling if it had a real commission--including things like luggage that usually DO have a real commission elsewhere!

    So...what's for 7%, packs of pencils? I'll see:

    YES--just that type of cheap stuff! So, they're basically offering about 14-21c. Here's a few examples from that list.

    Post-It Notes
    Crayons
    Colored pencils
    "Sheet Protectors," those would be those clear plastics that keep reports from getting dirty.
    Pencil erasers
    Some non-custom calendars

    This place WINS a Worst Offer From a Non-Outright-Crook award from me! I've seen a lot of merchants try to get away with sickeningly low commissions, but this is the first one I've seen with 88 NO-commission items!

    The real zinger is the fact that there are plenty of merchants out there paying 5-10% or more for many of the same items (and way more for the checks!)! And, not all of those other merchants are unknowns, either. And a lot of the things on their 7% list aren't really worth bothering with regardless.

    I expect their other percentage-based lists fall into the same pattern, but after seeing the suckage of the 3 lists I looked at, I decided I didn't need to see the rest!

    A big merchant is definitely not necessarily the best merchant for an affiliate.

  2. #2
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Leader you've covered just the tip of the Iceburg on the pitfalls of affiliate showcasing any major Brick-n-Mortar stores. Add in the non-commissionable.... "in-store pickup" easy payment plans, live-Help sales hijacking, 800# order kiting, corporate multi-channel cookie washing campaigns, and partnerships with every BHO to come down the pike and you have the picture.

    These are pure play advertising merchants who actually get appalled if the value-add affiliate aggregate exceeds any of their commission diversion plan activities. Just let the BHO's and point of sale attack dogs rape them. Reality ... the work required to navigate a sale through their cookie landmine field should demand a minimum of 10% on their entire ecatalog offerings with 120 day cookies.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador MoneyBusiness's Avatar
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    I can't wait to go sign up for a 0% commission..I mean, who wouldn't?? Brilliant.

    I think the smarter thing to do here, is set terms as to what products can be sold for a commission, and leave the ones that can't out of the commission structure...it makes no sense to specify a 0% commission.

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    Whats next, 0% to -7% commission? Wow, no one has ever tried that marketing idea.

    Nicely written post, Leader, and wonderful investigational reporting. Thanks.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
    7 Days A Week Marketing

  5. #5
    Member blizzard's Avatar
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    Those 'terms' are truly abominable.

  6. #6
    Not that fat. ReallyBigGuy's Avatar
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    I thought staples had a tiered thing like
    2% to start, then 3% for stuff over $10k, 4% over $50K and so on.

  7. #7
    Newbie
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    Even more amazing!

    I applied last fall and they said no, because I was thought to be a suspect affiliate. When I questioned what they meant by that they apologized and signed me up. So I ordered the datafeed. Hah! there are zero categories in it--still.
    No need to worry about zero commissions, because there will be zero sales.

    Staples must be using affiliate marketing as a tax writeoff, or just a place to send managers to get them out of the office.

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador simcat's Avatar
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    Having 8 different commision structures just confuses things. (maybe thats the point of having them? Some merchants sell a wide variety of items and manage to pay a flat % rate.

    I can think of one merchant who has just 2 different %'s that often seemed to credit the wrong (lower) commision.

    Reminds me of those scanners at the grocery store. The mistakes always seem to favor one side over the other.

  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by geezer
    So I ordered the datafeed. Hah! there are zero categories in it--still.
    No need to worry about zero commissions, because there will be zero sales.
    That's exactly where I stand with Staples. I had just added their BeFree datafeed which had categories when they switched over to CJ. Now after several emails they still haven't included categories. Most important thing here is so I can exclude particular items. So we're in the same boat, no Staples sales due to inadequate marketing materials.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  10. #10
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    By itself, the email below stinks. But coupled with Leader's post... I read it as

    We sell zillions of things. We probably left out a few when we told you what stuff gets lousy commissions, so if we did, we reserve the right to give you nothing on stuff we forgot to tell you about

    Please note that build to order desktops and laptops, printing services, premiums, copy services, business cards, special order stationary and other business services are all EXCLUDED from the Affiliate commission program. In addition it is at Staples sole discretion, that other commission rates and/or sales programs may apply, and commission rates and/or sales programs are subject to change or discontinue at any time

  11. #11
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    The PPCers will "love this:

    You can't bid on their name

    Affiliates are not permitted to purchase the following keywords (along with misspellings): Staples®, Staples.com®, www.staples.com, Staples Office Supplies
    then they say this:

    Staples.com carries over 45,000 SKUs ranging from general office supplies, to technology, to office furniture. To get the biggest impact, we would suggest covering the following areas in your keyword buys:

    Office Machines
    Office Products
    Paper
    PDAs
    Pencils
    Pens
    Printer Cartridges
    Printers
    Shipping Supplies
    Supplies
    Toner Cartridges
    and most importantly, this:

    If you are going to outbid Staples on any keyword purchase you must promote Staples Inc
    So if you PPC for something they sell, you have to send the traffic to them - instead of someone who will pay you a commission

  12. #12
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    "I can't wait to go sign up for a 0% commission..I mean, who wouldn't?? Brilliant."

    Well you just need to squint your eyes and visualize the "prestige" uplift your site will get just having a Staples banner on it.

    Every 0% commission will remind you of the wonderful gift they have bestowed on you to be a lucky member of their program.

  13. #13
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    I checked at a local store... they smartly don't sell any Tar & Feather kits.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  14. #14
    SEO: A Specialty - Web Design: Slow or outsourced andbeyond's Avatar
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    Man I love these deals.

    I actually had someone on the phone offer me 5%. It was everything I could do not to laugh at them. This was a while ago when I thought anything below 15% was robbery, but still...

    Some people really want to use affiliates as the low-cost no risk way to get sales. And they want us to fight it out to get any sales. It pays to recognize those companies and avoid like the plague. Makes me want to make a product myself.

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