Online shopping is convenient and simple. It saves time and money because you don’t have to drive to the shops or pay for parking and products can usually be found for less than on the High Street. Shoppers almost expect low prices and online deals, as they are used to the various schemes and websites that help consumers find the absolute best price possible.

Everyone loves a bargain. Instead of visiting shop after shop to find out which one offers the best value, we can now browse online to compare prices and deals at hundreds of retailers. The easiest way for online shoppers to compare product descriptions, price and value is with affiliate sites.

Using affiliate sites is becoming the norm for online shoppers, even if the term itself is unknown to them.

Uses of affiliate marketing

1. Research

Some of the most useful affiliate sites are content sites that provide consumers with independent information, advice and opinions that are not disguised advertisements or sales pitches. Review sites and blogs, such as TripAdvisor, West End Wilma and Howl, help consumers decide where to go on holiday, what to see at the theatre and which clothes are currently cool.

Social Media Today discovered that almost two-thirds of customers were more likely to purchase independently reviewed products because of their impartiality. It’s also very easy to purchase items from these sites, because when customers read about items they want, they can buy them directly through the affiliate.

2. Comparison

A survey by Forrester Consulting reveals that 90% of shoppers visit more than one site to compare prices before buying something. For customers who want the best deals, comparison search engines (CSEs) are extremely beneficial, as a quick search displays the price of almost any product at various retailers, making it simple for consumers to see where the cheapest prices are.

Shoppers can also compare items on features, making shopping even more simple. To buy the product, consumers simply click through directly to the product page or checkout, saving them both time and money.

3. Rewards

Voucher sites are starting to become household names as more shoppers search for offers when they buy on the internet. Even high earners are swallowing their pride and using voucher sites to save money (although only 6% of those earning over £60k admitted using a restaurant voucher, whilst less than 3% of them had used a printable voucher in store).

Meanwhile, Cashback sites are helping consumers earn money as they shop, by offering a percentage of their expenditure if they buy through the cashback site. This also encourages people to shop online, as they can potentially save even more money.

Does affiliate marketing really improve the online customer journey?

With more people looking for the best value items affiliate sites are becoming more prominent, with consumers spending longer researching items to make sure they choose the right product, at the right price.

Part of the appeal of online shopping is that it’s easy to find impartial product information and compare item prices. The appeal of cashback or a voucher is also a priority for those looking to save money. Chris Bishop from 7thingsmedia believes that “Consumers are becoming as addicted to shopping via deals as they are to shopping itself.”

Very few people have money to throw away, so reading a positive opinion from a third party can clinch the deal for an online shopper. As voucher and cashback sites grow in popularity, brands could become less important, with shoppers choosing the item that’s the best value, rather than a specific make.

Affiliate marketing has successfully evolved through time, becoming more innovative and now starting to define the way that people shop online. As mobile performance marketing begins to emerge, people will be able to access affiliate sites on the move and using them to shop will no doubt become even more common.