woman building a profitable business while adding affiliate sales

Affiliate sales? This ONE THING Can Kill Your Business.

When people think of selling affiliate products, they often think of digital products first.

Downloadable eBooks, courses, software, and click-to-buy products are easy to sell as affiliate products.

Affiliate products are easy to scale, are unique, and require no shipping or storage. You can set up affiliate deals with as many (or as few) marketers as you wish.

You control how much you charge, how much you pay in commissions, and how (and how long) a product is available.

These are the reasons that digital products are so well-suited to affiliate sales.

However, affiliate sales are not limited to digital products.

You can sell physical products or a high-ticket or high-touch service using affiliate marketers.

You can even use affiliate marketing with your brick-and-mortar store.

The affiliate process works roughly the same with physical or digital products. You provide the product or service, approve affiliate marketers, and give them a special referral code so you can track their sales.

The affiliate marketer refers prospects directly to your business – but you will manually credit and pay the referring partner.

You can also use online platforms to sell your goods or services.

Platforms such as Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Target, Etsy, and Home Depot let users list products for sale.

The downside is that your business will need a system to manage inventory so you can smooth out your order process and keep out-of-stock issues to a minimum for your affiliate sellers.

How to kill your affiliate business.

Caution: race to the bottom pricing ahead.

When some small business owners think of affiliate sales of physical products, they often think of Amazon.

Amazon controls a significant portion of the US and European online shopping markets.

Other markets, such as Walmart, Target, Etsy, and Home Depot, are also happy to sell your physical products for affiliate sellers.

The online merchants who host your affiliate sale are not necessarily your friends.

The online seller's pricing structure and competitive algorithms can make product pricing a race to the bottom.

If competitors start seeing your success, they may try to copy your product and undercut your prices. Or they may buy their way to the top of the search page as a recommended product.

You must ship inventory to their warehouse to take advantage of online sellers' logistics and shipping. Your money is tied up in products sitting on warehouse shelves. You can directly ship yourself, but most businesses don’t want the aggravation and expense of managing their shipping.

Some people have found success selling physical products using online retailers.

But I would suggest that you approach this with your eyes open. If the product does well and gets the online platform's attention, they may create their own version of the product—and beat any price you can offer.

How to be successful selling physical affiliate products online.

Sell a unique, hard-to-find, or hard-to-duplicate product. Selling commodity items (dog leashes or computer monitors) means a constant race to lower your prices.

You can overcome the commodity trap by selling unique products not easily sourced elsewhere.

Commit to keeping inventory in stock. Your non-commodity product should either be readily in stock and available for immediate shipping.

Or you can go the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) route and sell with the idea that if a customer misses this item, another one may not be readily available.

FOMO is your friend - especially if you sell hard-to-find or unique products or limited-time services.

What could affiliate marketers sell for your business?

Let’s go back to the irrigation business.

Can you set up affiliate marketing for high-end or hard-to-source parts?

Can you sell consultations? Can you offer additional related items, such as garden furniture?

Here are some other ways to sell physical affiliate products.

Brick-and-mortar local sales:

If you want to try affiliate marketing on a smaller, more local scale, give your affiliate partners special coupons or cards with unique codes.

Typically, the code or card would give the customer an incentive such as a discount or extra product.

The affiliate partner offers these cards to prospects. When the customer buys with the code, the affiliate receives a commission.

There needs to be a lot of trust on both sides, but it is a low-tech way to do local affiliate marketing.

Find complementary businesses to sell to each other’s customers:

Let’s say you sell auto parts. A complementary business could be an auto upholstery shop.

You can each sell affiliate products or get a referral fee for the others’ businesses. You both reach new markets and sell products that work together.


woman reading a stack of books while building her profitable affiliate business

How to set up an affiliate program for your physical products or services.

If you want to sell physical products, you can find affiliate software to track your sales or go old-school and manually track unique codes.

Affiliate marketing takes time to set up.

You must find the right offer and the right affiliate partners.

But it can be a way to reach a much larger audience than you would on your own and make money with little or no effort or cost.

How will YOU add Affiliate Marketing to your business?

Will you sell other people's products or services?

This is a simple way to expand your offers without having the expense of hiring or product creation.

Will you set up an affiliate product or service that others can sell for you?

This is a cost-effective way of reaching new audiences without marketing expenses.

Bonus: these new customers are YOUR customers. You can continue to market to them.

Want to learn more about Affiliate Marketing?

Check out Profit-ize Your Business Book Three: Pricing and Affiliate Marketing


Patricia Browne

Patricia Browne

Patricia Browne is the author of seven books that help businesses grow and profit.

Read about The Profit-ize system and what it can do for your business

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