High Street Retailers: How to Use Affiliates to Drive In-store Customers and Sales

Elaine Wan

Elaine Wan is a Senior Affiliate Marketing Manager at DigitasLBi based in London, managing UK and international affiliate campaigns in the retail, travel and finance sectors.   

With 5 years’ experience in affiliate marketing, she was previously a Key Accounts Team Leader at Affiliate Window and one of the founding members of the MyVoucherCodes.co.uk partnerships team managing advertiser, network and agency relationships.

She is also an active member of the IAB Affiliate Marketing Council steering committee.

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High Street Retailers: How to Use Affiliates to Drive In-store Customers and Sales
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A growing number of retailers are adopting a multichannel approach to drive in store and mobile/online sales as part of their performance marketing strategy. With the Christmas peak looming, this time of year is the most important trading period for retail brands. Everyone is conscious that targets will be hit or missed based on their performance in the next three months. Is this a missed opportunity for some retail advertisers?

Why should I bother?

For advertisers, multi-channel campaigns are a great way to drive incremental sales and highlight the versatility and value of the affiliate channel. A recent case study from Burton shows that a multichannel campaign using voucher codes can boost not only affiliate traffic and online/mobile sales, but also increase revenue in store. With more high street retailers testing and adopting this approach in their strategy, are you missing out?  

Key publishers in the affiliate space all have or are investing in a multichannel customer offering via mobile apps. This is especially evident in the incentive affiliate space among the likes of vouchercloud, Quidco, VoucherCodes.co.uk and TopCashBack. There are now even more opportunities for advertisers to target and incentivise customers to purchase in store via mobile devices. 

Both Quidco and TopCashBack offer in-store cashback opportunities for advertisers: TopCashBack via its Snap & Save in store offers and Quidco via its In store cashback and ClickSnap Grocery. Both vouchercloud and VoucherCodes.co.uk have mobile apps offering in store offers and vouchers. vouchercloud’s mobile app is accessible to 13% of all smartphone users. VoucherCodes.co.uk have 2.8 million downloads of their mobile app.

Potential obstacles?

Is an in-store offering via affiliates not the norm? What issues and obstacles do retailers face before embarking on a multi-channel campaign utilising affiliates? What are the key areas which need to be considered for these types of campaigns?

Here are some of the main obstacles I have come across when setting up in-store opportunities.

  • Tracking functionality for in-store customers and sales
  • Paying affiliate commission 
  • Identifying where the budget to run these campaigns come from
  • Getting internal buy in from different departments and teams
  • The logistics of implementing any in store customer offer
  • Tighter margins in store

One fundamental issue is how a retailer is going to track any in-store sales and revenue and then correctly attribute this back to the affiliate channel or individual affiliate. This is essential for both reporting purposes and payment of commission if you are running the activity on a CPA. Larger affiliates will have their individual solution for tracking. It is worth exploring these different options on a case by case basis to see if this is something you can integrate.

Tight budgets are another potential obstacle advertiser’s face. The key to tackling this obstacle is identifying whose remit this activity falls under. In reality, it probably does not fall directly under anyone’s remit, in which case you need to get multiple departments to buy in to your campaigns. Most affiliate in-store campaigns sit under the remit of different personnel retailer-side, whether it is the head of multichannel, affiliate marketing manager or in-store marketing manager who has access to different budgets.   

Then there is the issue of implementing in-store customer offers when redeemed at the till. This is particularly relevant for in store vouchers or deals like % off. Areas to consider are: does your checkout system have the functionality to allow you to log or apply an offer at the checkout? Are you able to track this and do you need to provide additional in-store training?

Lastly, the other stumbling block may be tight margins in-store. There are always certain products or categories which have higher margins than others. Advertisers can decide what they want to include in their promotional in-store offers. This could range from a discount off a minimum basket value or an offer on a particular range or product.