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How Retailers Can Use Affiliate Marketing to Increase AOV

Illustration of a guy and girl shaking hands. Both profiting from affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is a relatively new marketing strategy that can feel so complicated that it may not even seem worthwhile to implement. However, data increasingly shows that this strategy is becoming a must-have for retailers as a growth tactic. According to recent data, AOV from affiliate sales experienced a remarkable 27% year-over-year increase from April 2022 to 2023. 

The increase in AOV can be attributed to several tactics that more companies are testing and implementing. These include affiliates using cross-selling, upselling, bundling, and free delivery thresholds. All of these tactics encourage customers to spend more. For example, a bundling technique may see a beauty influencer pair a high-end foundation with a premium brush set, boosting the purchase value.

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Understanding Affiliate Marketing in the simplest terms 

Understanding new trends can be tricky, especially with a new concept. Here is a simple way to understand affiliate marketing

Imagine you have a friend who makes delicious cookies. Your friend wants to sell more cookies, so they ask for your help. They tell you, “If you tell other people about my cookies and they buy some, I’ll give you a little bit of money as a thank you.”

So, you tell your other friends and family about the yummy cookies. When they buy cookies from your friend because you told them about it, your friend gives you some money. This way, you help your friend sell more cookies and get some extra money. That’s what affiliate marketing is like! You help someone sell something by telling others about it and get paid for your help.

Retailers partner with affiliates – bloggers, influencers, and other content creators – in the retail industry who promote their products. Affiliates earn a commission for every sale made through their unique referral links. This approach expands the retailer’s reach and incentivizes affiliates to drive higher sales volumes.

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How to Implement Affiliate Marketing to Boost AOV

By partnering with affiliates who align with your brand, you can encourage customers to spend more on each purchase. 

The right affiliates can promote exclusive discount codes, bundle deals, and tiered commission structures that incentivize higher spending. Regularly updating affiliates with new promotions and tracking their performance helps optimize strategies for maximum impact. Fostering strong relationships with your affiliates and providing them with effective promotional tools can drive more substantial orders, ultimately increasing your overall AOV. The below steps will show you how to implement these strategies effectively.

1. Identify and Recruit the Right Affiliates

To maximize the impact of affiliate marketing, retailers must carefully select affiliates whose audience aligns with their target market. Tools like Shopify’s affiliate programs for retailers can help find suitable affiliates. Look for influencers and content creators who share values and interests similar to your brand.

2. Provide Attractive Incentives

Offering competitive commission rates and additional bonuses for higher sales can motivate affiliates to promote more effectively. Consider tiered commission structures where affiliates earn higher percentages as they generate more sales, encouraging them to focus on increasing AOV.

  •  Bundles and Kits: Offer product bundles or kits at a discounted rate compared to purchasing items individually. This encourages customers to spend more while feeling they are getting a better deal.
  • Free Shipping Thresholds: Set a minimum order value for free shipping. Customers often add more items to their carts to avoid shipping fees.
  • Limited-Time Offers and Discounts: Create a sense of urgency with limited-time promotions and discounts on higher-value purchases. Flash sales and exclusive offers can significantly boost AOV.

3. Equip Affiliates with Effective Marketing Materials

Provide your affiliates with high-quality assets & promotional materials, such as banners, images, and detailed product descriptions. Creating content highlighting product bundles or complementary items can encourage affiliates to promote higher-value purchases, driving up AOV.

4. Optimize Your Affiliate Program for Mobile

With the increasing number of consumers shopping on mobile devices, ensure that your affiliate links and promotional materials are mobile-friendly. A seamless mobile shopping experience can lead to higher conversion rates and larger order values.

5. Monitor and Optimize Performance

Track the performance of your affiliate marketing program regularly using analytics tools. Identify which affiliates are driving the highest AOV and focus on nurturing these relationships. Additionally, analyze the types of products and promotions that are most effective in increasing AOV and refine your strategy accordingly.

Provide your affiliate partners with a content guide to create continuity 

Each affiliate partner will approach marketing your products differently. This is a positive element of using affiliate partners, as it results in a diverse marketing strategy. However, it is also important to ensure brand continuity and consistent quality of content. 

When you have found the right affiliate partner(s), you can provide them with the below list as a guided content schedule to get them started on their journey with you: 

  • Try “Buy one get one free” (BOGO) offers: Encourage sales by offering a free item with the purchase of another, such as buying one t-shirt and getting another one free.
  • Experiment with limited-time offers: Create urgency by offering discounts that expire soon, such as 20% off for the next 24 hours.
  • Set a free shipping threshold: Offer free shipping on orders over a certain amount, like purchases over $50, to increase the average order value.
  • Share your mission and values: Build brand loyalty by having affiliate partners highlight your company’s mission and ethical values, such as promoting your commitment to sustainability.
  • Create a gift guide: Have affiliate partners help customers find the perfect gift by curating a list of product recommendations, like a holiday gift guide for tech enthusiasts.
  • Display customer reviews: Boost trust and credibility by having your affiliate partners showcase customer testimonials and reviews on your product pages.
  • Use upselling and cross-selling: Increase sales by suggesting higher-end products or complementary items, like recommending a premium version of a product or additional accessories.
  • Engage with a product quiz: Help customers find the right product by offering an interactive quiz, such as a skincare quiz, to identify the best products for their skin type.

Top 5 Platforms for Retail Affiliate Marketing

Choosing the right affiliate marketing platform is crucial for the success of your marketing strategy. Here are the top five platforms that retailers can use to implement and manage their affiliate marketing strategies:

1. ShareASale
ShareASale is a popular affiliate network that offers a user-friendly interface and a wide range of features. It provides detailed reporting and tracking tools to help retailers monitor affiliate performance and optimize their campaigns. They are trusted by Etsy, Buzzfeed, Acceleration, and more.

2. CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction)
CJ Affiliate is one of the largest affiliate networks, offering access to a vast pool of affiliates. Its robust tracking and reporting tools enable retailers to manage and scale their affiliate programs effectively. They have worked with Office Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond, CNN & more. 

3. Rakuten Advertising
Rakuten Advertising offers a comprehensive affiliate marketing solution with advanced tracking, reporting, and payment features. It provides access to a global network of affiliates, making it ideal for retailers looking to expand their reach. They have worked with Treatwell, Soho Home, Stylelink and more. 

4. Refersion
Refersion is a powerful affiliate marketing platform designed for e-commerce businesses. It integrates seamlessly with popular e-commerce platforms like Shopify, making it easy for retailers to set up and manage their affiliate programs. They are trusted by Rcess, Amika, Flooret and more. 

5. Tapfiliate
Tapfiliate is a versatile affiliate marketing platform that supports various e-commerce platforms and offers customizable tracking and reporting features. It’s suitable for retailers of all sizes looking to implement an effective affiliate marketing strategy. They are trusted by Boldking, Krisp, Selz and more. 

6. Affiliates for Digital Catalogs
By leveraging affiliate sites specifically designed to promote digital catalogs, retailers can effectively enhance the reach and impact of their digital catalogs, driving more traffic, boosting sales, and increasing overall ROI. Examples of valuable affiliate sites for digital catalogs are Promojaggers,, and Allefolders. 

Harness the power of affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a potent tool for retailers aiming to increase their average order value and drive growth. By partnering with the right affiliates, offering attractive incentives, and continuously optimizing their programs, retailers can experience significant improvements in their AOV. Integrating affiliate marketing into your overall digital marketing strategy is a smart move that can yield impressive results.