Walmart vs Amazon: Affiliate Program Comparison

Posted on26 CommentsCategoriesGeneral Discussion, Online Marketing, Thoughts for Affiliates

Having read the Internet Retailer’s comparison of the online storefronts of these two merchants (my bullet point summary of it may be found here), the only logical next step for me was to see how Walmart.com’s affiliate program compares to Amazon.com’s associates program.

By looking at the information provided in the respective sections of each website, I see the following picture:

Amazon Associates Program

Platform: in-house

Commission (dependent on the number of items shipped):

1-6        4.0%
7-10        6.0%
31-110        6.5%
111-320        7.0%
321-630        7.5%
631-1570    8.0%
1571-3130    8.25%
3131+        8.5%

Exclusions: CE products (always 4%), Kindle and most downloadable products (10%), Endless products (15%), Game downloads (20%)

Cookie Life: 24 hours

Program Website: https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/

Walmart.com’s Affiliate Program

Platform: LinkShare

Commission (dependent on product categories):

  • Electronics, video games, movies, music, books, photo – 1%
  • Other categories – 4%

Cookie Life: 3 days

Program Website: http://affiliates.walmart.com/aff_home.jsp

Even though Walmart.com’s cookie life is significantly longer, my analysis shows that over 85% of sales (in programs with cookie life equal to 90 days or longer) occur on the first day. So even with their dismal 24 hours cookies Amazon.com’s affiliate/associates program looks significantly more attractive to affiliates (more SKUs, better affiliate tools, higher earning potential due to the obvious differences in commissions as well as some of the things not mentioned above, but listed in the affiliate feedback below).

Neither Amazon, nor Walmart.com offer any information on conversion rates (CR) and EPC. But upon talking to some prominent affiliate marketers who work with both programs, here’s the December 2009 data that I was able to obtain:

  • Loyalty affiliate
    • Amazon.com EPC – $34.21 / Conversion ratio – 17.6%
    • Walmart.com EPC – $24.98 / Conversion ratio – 13.5%
  • Affiliate using more diverse methods:
    • Amazon 2009 CR: Q1 – 5.6%, Q2 – 4.1%, Q3 – 6.09%, Q4 – 10.85%
    • Walmart 2009 CR: consistent 2.3-2.9% range throughout all quarters

Additionally, here are some of the concerns expressed by affiliates (not one has mentioned Amazon):

  • “Walmart also has more zero commission products” and if you add “non commissionable sales” the above-quoted 2.3-2.9% range turns into a “4.5-9.85%” range
  • Walmart doesn’t “accept blogs or bloggers in their program”. It is “crazy that they would discriminate against bloggers”
  • It is almost impossible to compare the two affiliate programs, as you “can’t track people who check local stock on Walmart.com & then buy in store” while “Amazon is online only”

If you have an experience to share too, I would definitely love to hear your comments below.

26 thoughts on “Walmart vs Amazon: Affiliate Program Comparison

  1. I would almost always rather send traffic to a reputable mid-sized merchant than a big-box merchant like Walmart, Amazon, Best Buy or others. The commissions are usually better, the customer service is usually better, and the cookie duration is almost always better. When Walmart told me that blogs weren’t allowed in their program, I was at first surprised and a little offended, but I quickly shrugged it off. Joining Walmart’s program hadn’t even crossed my mind until they approached me at Affiliate Summit and asked what I did.

  2. Thank you for your comment, Daniel. Yes, I’ve seen many affiliates share the same sentiment (about going with a “reputable mid-sized merchant” as opposed to a bigger brands like the above-quoted ones). There are often multiple other reasons in addition to the ones you’ve mentioned.

    What I was trying to do is see how realistic Walmart’s plan is (to beat Amazon in its own game of low prices, and becoming a larger online merchant) if they stick with the same affiliate marketing strategy. It looks to me that the majority of affiliates prefer Amazon.com to Walmart.com.

    Of course, with the differences in selection, we may be almost comparing apples to oranges. But even if one presupposes that the SKU selection is identical, looking at the commission rates and conversion ratios, it is clear why affiliates rank the Amazon’s affiliate program higher than Walmart’s.

  3. That is a superbly written article Geno and one that has really just helped to clarify where we are going with a new Affiliate project that we intend to morph into an ecommerce site.

    You mention above an Amazon conversion ratio of 17.6%. Is this once they have arrived at Amazon from the relevant Affiliate Site, or is that from the initial search?

    Your clarification would be appreciated. Cheers, Ian

          1. Got it Geno thanks, I guess the site in question and others that we run would be considered a combination of content/review based together with a coupon mix!

  4. Interesting article. Being a recent victim of the new Illinois nexus tax and being drop kicked by Amazon as a result (Thank you very much Governor Quinn)I am of course very curious as to whether working with Walmart would be worth the effort. Aside from the lower commission, what is to stop someone from buying what they see on my site at their local Walmart?

    At least with Amazon you seemed to have a better chance to make the sale. They can’t run down to the local Amazon and buy the item.

    1. Dave, very good question. Unless there is a really convenient shipping deal, or unless the item they want isn’t available in physical stores (they often have online-only deals/products/specials), nothing will. By the way, another retailer to look into would be Target. They also have an affiliate program.

  5. Very useful article! I am surprised about the 1% commish for Walmart and I thought the cookie lasted longer too!

    You mentioned Target Geno – any plans to do a comparable review of them?

    🙂

    1. Glad to be of help, Alex. I haven’t thought of putting together a comparison with Target’s affiliate program; but maybe I will do it one day. Thanks for the idea.

  6. Great article! I’m confused about the EPC of $34.21 and $24.98. Doesn’t that depend on the number of items shipped? What volume of items shipped are the EPC’s based on?

      1. Thanks for your response. Because commissions from Amazon change based on the volume of sales you generate, wouldn’t the EPC also depend on how many sales you generate? Is the EPC $34.21 based on the 8.5% commission?

        1. Correct, Jeff, every affiliate’s EPC is in direct correlation with the commission level they get to. In my research, however, the exact commission level is somewhat irrelevant to know. What I was analyzing were (a) loyalty affiliates and (b) “affiliate using more diverse methods”, and based on what they reported, quoted averages of their averages (e.g.: if one reports a $30 EPC, another – $34, and yet another – $38, our average EPC for the group is $34). So, in a way, the EPC that I’m quoting above is similar to an overall program’s EPC, only split into two “types of marketing methods” used.

  7. Thanks for this unique article that seems to help reveal -if I can say- lots of helpful facts about the differences between these two huge and complex affiliate programs, but to a beginner like me every thing seems to be confusing. Since something like a year I have been seriously planning to take this experience of affiliate marketing but since then I have been facing lots of problems biggest of them is choosing the niche for which Iam gonna refer products, I love computers and mobliephones; actually the whole area of electronic products but couldn’t find the right affiliate program for that, recently I knew that walmart has an affiliate program and was about to fly of happiness knowing this but when I read the program specifications I really got frustrated. I want your help Mr.Geno as an experienced, please lead me and Thanks in advancce.

    1. Ahmed, sounds like a good place for you to start would be my How to Make Money with Affiliate Marketing compilation of free online resources (for affiliate education).

  8. I just retired from truck driving and i have a complete business office at home. How do I get started as an affiliate and where can I find the companies that affiliate programs? I do not have a business web site yet. What do you recommend?
    Thanks! Jay

  9. Hi Geno, your article just hit the mark when comparing amazon and walmart. I joined Amazon because of their high conversion rate plus the increasing commission rate if you are able to ship more items. I think these two dimension answer which is better between the two affiliate programs.

  10. Hello Geno I was happy to see this topic written ,but if u could add when both companies pay would be a good point as well

  11. Thank you Geno et al for the good information. I am presently launching an affiliate program blog and had no idea Wal-Mart did not permit bloggers. Just as well as Wal-Mart could use a lesson or two on how to treat its employees starting with proper pay. Amazon, eBay and others will be incorporated for the launching of my links blog.

    Thanks, Chris N. Van BC

  12. Well, Walmart and amazon are giving a tough competition to each other. Personally being a blogger, I can’t use Walmart as you mentioned that they don’t accept bloggers. However, I’m using amazon since 1 year! It’s excellent and driving enough income for me.

  13. I just now finished reading Wall-Marts affiliate terms and conditions. I believe the longest section I went through, was the listing of what doesn’t qualify for a paid commission . How at their discretion and at any time they may decide a product no longer qualifies. They went into great detail on All the ways you won’t get paid. Extremely off putting.
    Also:
    Getting a fee payment 60 days after the month you are being paid for and still running the risk of owing them a return on paid fees for returned purchases for any reason is uncomfortable.
    Loose of qualified commission because of delivery error or product error on their part. Would be frustrating as they do tend to error a lot.
    that’s my 2 cents. For what it’s worth. It an all around uncomfortable arrangement.
    Elaine (Bri).

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