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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador MoneyBusiness's Avatar
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    When building sites - do you focus on one or more merchants?
    I seem to remember a similar thread, but can't seem to find it (may all be in my mind). Here's my scenario, and I'd love to hear from anyone with experience regarding it:

    I have one site that has a nicely performing merchant. As a viable option for visitors, I put another merchant with same type of products on that site. After a long period of time, I noticed that most sales (i'd say roughly 97%) were going to the main merchant on the site. Albeit, most of the site is dedicated to that merchant.

    Is it detrimental to even have that secondary merchant on that site? And should I try to funnel all visitors to the main merchant? Or does having a second option make the site a more appealing place for visitors to purchase those products?

    Make sense?

  2. #2
    Prince of Content Vinny O'Hare's Avatar
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    I use to think that having a dozen was good but now I only use one merchant for most of my niche sites.

  3. #3
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    I usually use more than 1
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  4. #4
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MoneyBusiness
    Is it detrimental to even have that secondary merchant on that site? And should I try to funnel all visitors to the main merchant? Or does having a second option make the site a more appealing place for visitors to purchase those products?
    Are you talking about a page within a site or the whole site?
    A lot has to do with definitions and the product/s you aim to sell.

    There are many jewelry merchants (as an example) that sell similar jewelry.
    Does it hurt to showcase both "merchant c" and "merchant h" on the same site or even the same web page? What if you have been displaying Aquamarine stud earrings set in Platinum from "merchant c" but you notice that "merchant h" has a similar inventory with really great pictures? Are you going to disregard "merchant h?"
    What's the detrimental effect if both merchants offer similar quality?
    Another bonus of a mix is that you are adding value by adding additional similar items that may otherwise not have been seen.

    Will you display a gorgeous diamond near an ugly fake? Most likely not.
    Last edited by Rhia7; October 13th, 2007 at 04:47 PM.
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  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    I'd never build a site around a single merchant. I just don't think I can create a valuable shopping experience that way. I want to give consumers as many choices as possible and spread my earnings over as many merchants as I can. I'll focus a site on a particular category, but I try to include quite a few merchants to fit that category. It's really the best way I can provide value.

    - Scott
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  6. #6
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    Snib:

    Well said !
    I just read an interesting blog on just that subject.

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador MoneyBusiness's Avatar
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    Thanks for the very valuable, and very much appreciated feedback, guys and gals. After reading some of your comments, I came up with a great idea. Originally, I simply provided a link to that secondary merchant, instead of a datafeed, which I implemented for the main merchant. Having said that, I'm going to try and tie in that secondary merchant's products into the site, rather than just providing a link only. Maybe by providing the actual products for that merchnt on my site, I could increase the stickiness for the visitors, and provide more of a true combined shopping experience.

    What do you guys think? Does any of that make sense? If not, let me know and I'll try and clear it up.

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MoneyBusiness
    Thanks for the very valuable, and very much appreciated feedback, guys and gals. After reading some of your comments, I came up with a great idea. Originally, I simply provided a link to that secondary merchant, instead of a datafeed, which I implemented for the main merchant. Having said that, I'm going to try and tie in that secondary merchant's products into the site, rather than just providing a link only. Maybe by providing the actual products for that merchnt on my site, I could increase the stickiness for the visitors, and provide more of a true combined shopping experience.

    What do you guys think? Does any of that make sense? If not, let me know and I'll try and clear it up.
    Sounds like a plan. The more datafeeds the better, but only if they're organized into the same categories and search results. If you just use the categories they provide and keep everything separate you aren't providing much value to your customers.

    - Scott
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  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador MoneyBusiness's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snib
    Sounds like a plan. The more datafeeds the better, but only if they're organized into the same categories and search results. If you just use the categories they provide and keep everything separate you aren't providing much value to your customers.

    - Scott
    Oh no, definitely in the same categories. I was thinking that, with the content, would provide a better shopping experience, in that it puts it all together and makes it convenient for the visitor.

  10. #10
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    I would build a site around a single merchant - ONLY IF - there were others to replace that merchant.

    I have been burned by so many merchants who change there terms, reduce return days, insert live pop up chats etc. that I design sites so that I can easily switch between merchants.

    The whole issue of adding value buy including choices is also valid.

  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador MoneyBusiness's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aunt Lily
    I would build a site around a single merchant - ONLY IF - there were others to replace that merchant.

    I have been burned by so many merchants who change there terms, reduce return days, insert live pop up chats etc. that I design sites so that I can easily switch between merchants.

    The whole issue of adding value buy including choices is also valid.
    Thanks, Lily. I have to say that I'm pretty fortunate in that sense. I've only ever had one, maybe two that have changed terms, or done something wrong such that I had to leave. I can see why you would do it if it happens regularly though.

    I try to program my datafeed scripts and sites to be as general as possible. So far, they seem to work well with most merchants, such that I can quickly make changes to the script and implement a new datafeed site without a ton of hassle (most of the time). Kind of like a reusable template. Changing out merchants on an existent site, though, I haven't tried yet - and hope I don't have to anytime soon..

  12. #12
    Member lookingfortips's Avatar
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    Some else (I think Lost Deviant) brought up a good point on another thread. When you only promote one merchant, there isn't much to prevent the customer from skipping you as the middle man and going directly to the merchant after their first purchase (unless you have some kick ass exclusive coupons or rebates).

  13. #13
    Visual Artist & ABW Ambassador lostdeviant's Avatar
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    That was someone else's point. I wish I had made it :-/

  14. #14
    Visual Artist & ABW Ambassador lostdeviant's Avatar
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    I don't have much experience in affiliate marketing, but so far I haven't worried about how many merchants I add to a website. As long as it makes sense, who cares?

    If one merchant has all the products to meet my site's needs then I probably will stop looking.
    If that merchant is great but only meets part of my site's needs then I will look for another until it feels right.

    I'm not doing micro websites. Each site is a different topic, so if the program closes. It isn't as if I'd lose my website. I'd just delete my product links (keep my content) and add a merchant in the same topic....
    Does anyone else do it this way? Maybe I've been doing it all wrong

  15. #15
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    These days I think there's a lot of compelling reasons to build it around multiple merchants in the same category.

    1.) We've watched a lot of larger affiliate programs lower commissions or in some way manipulate cookie length in a way that isn't affiliate friendly.

    2.) Snib's point is valuable as far as giving consumers a compelling reason to shop at your site. Single merchant sites are almost just doorway pages, unless you create something that is better than the merchants site (which is possible in many cases)

    3.) If you are building a site around the products of one large merchant, you may have trouble competing for specific terms in the SERPs. Multi merchants on one page with good text and a good user interface can give you a strategic edge.

    4.) Programs close, companies go out of business. See Aunt Lily's thoughts above.
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  16. #16
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    I think if you only include the products from one merchant - you must really consider why your site would be considered important. Not from a philosophical "important", but why would it be considered important by search engines. Is your SEO so good, that it doesn't matter?

    I guess if you're going the PPC route, this might not be an issue.

    I don't have a strong feeling about this, just trying to sort out some strategies of my own today.

  17. #17
    ABW Ambassador MoneyBusiness's Avatar
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    Thanks guys, great advice and suggestions. Noth's #3, and some other suggestions hit a good point - single merchant sites have to fight an uphill battle, by providing content mainly, otherwise they'll be simply reproducing one of a thousand other sites out there doing the same thing.

    By combining merchants, or doing something different with a main merhcant's datafeed, the possibility of making a truly unique site, on top of additional content can only help with SEO.

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