Toys"R" Us is filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and as a result, the affiliate program and those leveraging it is going to need to eventually move and promote something else.
The big box stores continue to fall victim to the Internet and the e-commerce world. There've been many companies and big brands (such as Sears) that are following the same demise after many years of success in the offline marketplace. This is indicative of our new "world" Where much greater percentage of people purchase things online, leaving much higher costs with smaller returns for off-line businesses and shops.
One thing that you may find interesting about Toys R Us, is that yes, they did have an affiliate program. But it was one that most affiliate marketers wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole.
A Short Cookie Life, Attracts Fewer Affiliates
When I say this it isn't because their product or company weren't great. I have had great shopping experiences at Toys R Us over the years and I am really sad to see them close their doors. What I have never been keen on is the Toys R Us affiliate program and their "5-hour cookie" max affiliate links (see below).
It is actually quite insulting to an affiliate to have a cookie this short. You go to all the hard work to create content, to generate traffic, to implement marketing strategies, and to incorporate streamlined promotions for a particular company, only to realize that if someone doesn't buy the exact moment they leave your page, then you are not going to get any credit.
That is frustrating, but worse yet, you experience far lower commissions than you would have with a longer length. With a cookie length of 7 days vs. 5 hours, you could expect at least double the sales volumes as a result of your hard work as an affiliate marketer.
Why Amazon Associates Gets Away With a Short Cookie Length?
Amazon is notorious for their 24-hour cookies.
However, amazon has over 500 MILLION products on their storefront. You can go there to buy pretty much anything from groceries, to appliances, to clothing, to things for your animals. When people head over to Amazon, they are always engaged in a "buying state of mind" because they're shopping.
Sure, like the offline world you're going to have some window shoppers, but generally speaking it is far more efficient to purchase something online and you have a selection that is unparalleled anywhere in the offline world.
It is often times far more efficient to purchase stuff from home, versus getting your car, packing up your kids, and driving to the mall. These all incur time costs as well as actual costs (gas, parking, etc).
The Amazon affiliate program has a lot of benefits because of the purchase volume that people have on there and the overall familiarity & association with buying stuff through Amazon.
Sometimes when you're promoting one thing, you will get a bunch of sales for something completely different. Over the years I have had some of the strangest purchases as a result of my affiliate links pointing people to buy something else.
That is the benefit of having our platform like Amazon where you can buy a dog toy, men's underwear and a TV all in one spot (and sometimes people buy all of them all at once lol).
If Amazon didn't have so much PULL within the e-commerce world and their processes didn't convert as well as they do for affiliate, they surely wouldn't be able to get away with a 24-hour cookie.
When you consider such massive shopping platforms like Etsy.com have 30 days cookies, Amazon cookie life is still on the lower end and has always been one of the drawbacks using Amazon's affiliate program.
Companies That Are Not Investing in e-Com, Are Doomed.
I would have to say if a company is just starting to get into the Econ aspect of their business, they are potentially too late.
When you are competing with the likes of Amazon, eBay, Wayfair, Jet, Etsy and some of the other big players in the e-commerce space, you need to realize that if you is going to step into the e-commerce world you need to be prepared to compete on many fronts.
Some of these include:
- Shopping UI/UI
- Customer Support
- Affiliate Program (incuding "cookie length")
- Affiliate Management
These are all areas that the top online commerce companies have focused heavily on, and are succeeding as a result of their efforts in these areas.
In an industry where the "affiliate cookie" bar has been set pretty low by Amazon, any sane affiliate will take a 5-hour cookie as nothing short of insulting.
Would Toys"R" Us Still Be Doing Well if They Focus on their Affiliate Program
We can't blame the affiliate program and the short cookie length on everything. But I can tell you as an affiliate marketer, and someone's whose worked with literally over 1 million affiliates in the past 12 years, it can be hard to attract "whale affiliates" with a short cookie length.
In particular, when your e-commerce store isn't as competitive or converts as well as some competitors. Is someone going to buy a toy with shipping charges through Toys "R" Us at $15.00 if they cannot by the exact same thing with same day "Prime" shipping from Amazon for $13.95? I doubt it.
It only takes a few experiences like this before people start looking at Amazon or other shopping platforms, before they would no longer consider shopping at Toys"R" Us. Throw in a complicated shopping process, technical issues with a website, a checkout process that is frustrating, and slow and expensive shipping times, and you can see why a companies online presence is met with resistance.
All of this has adverse effects on affiliates as it becomes more difficult and expensive (in terms of time and actual costs) to promote a program that doesn't convert very well as well. A poor cookie life only further disincentives an affiliate program such as Toys "R" Us and it surely had some level of contribution to the companies overall demise.
I would love to hear your feedback on this. What are your thoughts of the e-commerce world and whatever are some of online versus offline experiences that you have had recently? Leave your comments below.