With the UK e-commerce trade surplus totalling over £720 million and desire for UK retail overseas soaring into new heights, Farfetch has grown its luxury fashion business substantially, now shipping to over 180 territories in 9 different languages. The importance of international traffic has been highlighted by the fact that over 60% of the brand’s UK affiliate sales revenue is now generated overseas. Farfetch wanted to push this international demand by investing further in affiliate marketing to grow brand awareness globally amongst luxury shoppers in international markets, particularly the Australia and the APAC regions.

Affiliate Marketing is frequently the victim of several recurring pieces of criticism: the channel is too discount-focused, too reliant on a handful of big publishers, and unable to deliver significant incremental value for retailers. But we have been able to prove this theory wrong.

For luxury brands, building a high-volume, global affiliate programme with an abundance of high-end content affiliate partners is a difficult task. The Farfetch affiliate programme operates purely on a Cost per Acquisition (CPA) basis. This payment model is particularly challenging in the luxury fashion space, where many of the relevant publisher sites are considered “premium” and therefore sell their inventory on a CPM basis. However, the CPA-based nature of the campaign meant that as long as Rakuten Marketing could secure double digit growth each year, the budget and scale of the campaign was effectively endless. 

Farfetch have run profitable affiliate programmes through Rakuten Marketing since 2010 in the UK and 2012 in the US. It was therefore a cost effective solution to launch affiliate programmes through its dedicated networks in Australia and Japan. In each market, local account managers were briefed to secure partnerships with quality content bloggers, as well as well-established publishers such as ShopStyle, Lyst, DealMoon and Ebates. Bloggers act as fantastic brand ambassadors to local, relevant and engaged followers, whilst discovery shopping sites are often the first port of call for fashion-conscious shoppers searching for the latest trends. 

To increase blogger engagement, the team incorporated Farfetch’s popular “Unfollow” social media campaign into a CPA-based offer within the global affiliate programmes. This was supported by a full range of creative and an additional incentive of a prize draw entry for a Farfetch gift card if publishers were able to hit predefined sales targets. Farfetch now has over 1,600 content and blogger sites on its programme, each of which are engaging targeted international shoppers with the brand.

Natasha Lawley, Performance Marketing Manager at Farfetch commented: “Rakuten Marketing’s international footprint and understanding of the luxury space has helped us align our international programmes and reach a wider pool of luxury shoppers. We have successfully been able to grow brand awareness, without devaluing the brand.”

The growth of the Farfetch’s global affiliate programmes is possibly the best example to dispel the myth that affiliate marketing is a discount-led channel. Without working with more than a handful of voucher and loyalty sites, Rakuten Marketing and Farfetch have been able to grow the global affiliate programme by 91% year on year.

Mark Haviland, MD at Rakuten Marketing Europe added: “Through affiliate marketing, retailers can take advantage of the demand for British retailers overseas. However, it’s crucial for luxury retailers like Farfetch to maintain a high-end brand positioning globally. The majority of discount and cashback sites were not right for Farfetch, but by cherry picking those sites with a niche audience, and connecting with high end content sites in each market, we’ve been able to increase Farfetch’s network of publishers and reach luxury shoppers locally, whilst ensuring consistent brand positioning.” 

During PMI London 2015, Rakuten Marketing and Farfetch will demonstrate how luxury brands can fast-track their global success through Affiliate Marketing.