Sunday, March 22, 2009

Alternatives to Amazon?

I wish that Squidoo would find alternative retail partners to Amazon. While Amazon is the leading online "Shopping Mall", it is just not good enough. Problem is that there is not yet alot of competition. What are the problems with Amazon? Several:

* Commissions are very low. If someone buys from your Amazon module, you will earn a measly 2.5%. Don't believe it? Try it. Clear your cookies to make sure you do not already have an Amazon cookie in your computer. (click tools>internet options>delete temporary files, history,cookies) Then buy something from one of your Squidoo lenses that has little or no traffic and no risk of selling anything. In a few days you should see your purchase register and the tiny commission that you have earned.

* Amazon is not international. Almost half of the visitors to Squidoo are from outside of the USA. But if someone from Canada, The UK, Germany, France, etc visits your lens and clicks an Amazon module, they will be asked if they prefer to buy from their local Amazon (such as Canadian Amazon, English Amazon, German Amazon, French Amazon etc). If they do, you will earn no commission. If they stay on, they can not buy very much, because Amazon will ship very few products, other than books outside of the USA. So, selling to roughly half of your visitors is impossible.

* The Amazon search modules are extremely difficult to work with. If you choose your own Amazon products to display, you will frequenty find that after a month, the product is out of stock or has been changed and your module is empty. If you let Amazon choose which products to display, substitute products are frequently displayed. For example, put in Ugg Boots and you will get not only Uggs and but also brands such as Bearpaw and Emu boots.

* There is no way to search for discounted items. Wouldn't it be nice to offer your visitors products on sale from Amazon? There are such search functions from the Amazon site, but not on a Squidoo module.

Sure you can have affiliate links to hundreds of other retailers and earn higher commissions, but the beauty of working with Amazon is the department store effect. If a visitor to your lens clicks on your Amazon link and does not buy that product, there is a good chance they will continue shopping and buy something else and you will earn a commission. Most online retailers do not offer the wide spectrum of products that Amazon does.

Unfortunately, without competition, Amazon is unlikely to improve. Hopefully, since Squidoo is such an important partner to Amazon, perhaps the Squidoo Team can work with Amazon to implement some much needed changes or better yet, find alternative retail partners.

The good news is that, you as a shopper do have alternatives to Amazon. In my next post, I will give alternatives to shopping from


  1. Interesting, I thought we were getting 4% on Amazon sales because Squidoo gets the top comission.

  2. Hi Paula

    I thought the same thing too, until I made my purchase. Perhaps the commission is different depending on what you buy?

    Give it a try. Next time you want to buy something from Amazon, use a Amazon Spotlight Module to feature it on a lens with no history and no traffic. Then clear your cookies and buy it from the lens. Then come back here and let us know what you found out.

  3. This is from the lensmaster payment FAQ:

    "Affiliate revenue (ie, referral income--like Amazon and eBay and CafePress). This is directly attributable to the lens that generated the revenue, and is not pooled with the whole co-op. The lensmaster gets a straight 50%."

    Looks like Amazon pays 4-5%, but we get only half of it.