2016 was reportedly the first year consumers spent more time on a mobile device than on desktop and today mobile email, search and social are integrated into the retail experience. 

When shopping, consumers use mobile for many activities – including deal-hunting. During last year’s holiday season, eMarketer reported that 22.6% of shoppers used mobile to search for coupons before shopping. Additionally, Linkable Networks found that over 50% of consumers link and redeem mobile coupons within 24 hours. In fact, recent research from Hitwise found that 66% of searches for “vouchers” originate from mobile devices at store locations.

Prior to mobile’s widespread adoption, desktop was the first and primary destination for online shopping. Affiliate marketers’ livelihood relied on transactions that occurred on desktop. However, the consumer shift from desktop to mobile in some cases lowered conversion rates and the associated revenue for the affiliate marketer. Digital companies that originally built their business model off of desktop shopping are now feeling mobile’s impact. In fact, mobile e-commerce conversion rates are 2.7 times lower than desktop transactions. 

Site to store

If consumers are spending more time on mobile to search for deals in-store, where is the opportunity for today’s affiliate marketer? According to Time Trade, 90% of all retail transactions still occur in store. These transactions equated to$4 trillion in 2014 as opposed to the mere $200 billion in purchases made online. By 2020, in-store purchases are expected to reach $5 trillion. In this evolving landscape, affiliate marketers can now drive traffic at retail on a cost per acquisition (CPA) basis with 100% attribution in addition to full commissions. This represents a significant greenfield revenue opportunity in an expanding retail marketplace. This is called “Site to Store” and it’s the next big thing.

Site to Store can be done by targeting the right shoppers browsing for last-minute deals on mobile in physical store locations with offers that can be redeemed in-store. A mobile offer associated with a product deal is delivered to consumers who are actively searching for ways to save, which then can be redeemed upon checkout in-store. So how will the affiliate marketer know their offer was responsible for driving a specific sale? This is where attribution comes into play. According to 62.9% of US marketers, mobile coupons are the most effective method to attribute mobile ads to in-store purchases. Site to Store gives affiliate marketers the ability to track exactly which offer and which publisher was successful and led to the final purchase. More so, the retailer can determine which publisher is more effective at driving the most revenue, which generates a positive return on ad spend. 

New technologies

Attribution at retail has always been a bit of a unicorn considering that there has been no way to close the loop on actual in-store purchases. This is changing with new technologies like card linked offers that deliver Site to Store conversions with full attribution. This technology allows for the coupons to be linked to a consumer’s payment method of choice, requiring no point of sale integration, no paper coupons or scanning at register. 

Several affiliate publishers have jumped on this trend and are marketing card linked offers to their consumer audience, who shop online and also continue to make purchases in traditional brick-and-mortar store locations like Express, Sephora, American Eagle and The Body Shop. For every transaction, the consumer receives a cash-back reward and the retailer attributes their offer to each individual sale. These publishers have the advantage of offering both online and in-store offers to their shoppers who want to save whenever and wherever they make purchases. This concept has the potential to take off as the next generation of the Site to Store attribution model. 

By way of Site to Store, affiliate marketers can bridge the gap between online promotion and in-store purchases, profiting from where the most transactions occur and meanwhile capitalising on their consumers’ increasing shift to mobile.