Affiliate tracking software for online stores

Ecommerce brands, listen up. You have 80% of the US population shopping online today, but how are you outshining the 12-24 million online stores out there?

Sure, you might have a loyal following from your brick-and-mortar shop. But you’re missing out on serious coin if you neglect your digital marketing plan.

And we’re not just talking about PPC ads or social media campaigns (though those are important, too).

Affiliate marketing for eCommerce is your one-way ticket to visibility and revenue.

Affiliate marketing uses affiliates (external partners, like bloggers and influencers to herd potential customers to your site. They’ll share content — reels, emails, tutorials, articles, Instagram posts — and their loyal following will follow the breadcrumbs to your site.

Don’t confuse this with referral marketing, though. You’re using external partners to expand your reach, not existing customers.

The goal? Conversions and purchases. Don’t believe us? Check out these stats.

In 2021, online stores spent $9.1 billion (yes, billion) on affiliate marketing efforts. The result? A mammoth, $71 billion in consumer spending. Talk about return on investment!

The numbers speak for themselves. We don’t need to tell you how much online stores thrive with affiliate marketing.

But we will advocate the critical importance of managing your eCommerce affiliate marketing programs with the right tech.

You’ve shown a lot of love to your eCommerce business. We see your high-definition product videos, regular email newsletters, and customer engagement. Let’s take your online shop revenue to the next level with affiliate tracking software.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Tracking software online stores

Here’s why your eCommerce business needs affiliate tracking software:

Automated tracking saves time
We’re going to take you on a little ride down the eCommerce landscape. The end destination? Automation. Remember the 24 million online stores we mentioned? Competition is fierce.

As data scientist Mike Bugembe tells Forbes, growth is the only way for eCommerce businesses to survive (more on that shortly). But growth isn’t possible if you spend hours on tedious tasks like tracking conversions and affiliate performance.

You might think: maybe I just need a data analyst or administrative support. You probably need that too, but how do you justify new hires when recessions see labor costs increasing and technology costs decreasing? Tech is the natural first choice.

All the data points to automation as your saving grace. Affiliate tracking software automates link and coupon code tracking for you, and creates data-rich reports with customizable metrics.

  • First-party data (including affiliate information)
    Affiliate tracking software tracks first-party data directly from your business. You own the data, and you know exactly where it comes from. The benefit? There’s nothing more relevant, accurate, or specific. On the other hand, third-party data is filtered through multiple channels, collected, bought, and sold by various businesses.

  • Real-time tracking
    If you notice a traffic dip, wouldn’t you want to know exactly when it happened? Real-time tracking helps you identify issues immediately, helping you solve problems to support your business, affiliates, and customers.

  • In-depth reporting to make data-informed decisions
    Bugembe (Forbes) sees data as a tool for growth (inextricably linked to survival) for eCommerce stores in a vastly competitive market. In fact, he sees quick growth as impossible without data. The information lying in your conversions, affiliate revenue, and customer purchase patterns are valuable insights that can improve your marketing campaigns.

Tapfiliate reporting dashboard
Tapfiliate reporting dashboard

  • Optimize your strategies and calculate the real ROI of your campaigns
    Spending too much money on an Instagram influencer affiliate’s campaign with no results? Notice more revenue from your niche blogger affiliate? Affiliate software shows you where affiliate income comes from.

Learning where you perform well helps you optimize strategies for better reach and revenue. Plus, you can easily calculate ROI when presented with spend and revenue figures for each affiliate.

online shop

How to choose an affiliate tracking software for your online store

If you own one or more eCommerce businesses, you need affiliate software solutions with industry-specific influence.

A good place to start is the affiliate software company’s use cases or case studies. Have they helped other eCommerce businesses? Give them bonus points if they have demonstrated results for eCommerce stores in your niche!

Ecommerce stores have different affiliate needs from a SaaS company or coaching consultancy.

Think about these factors when choosing software:

  • Integration: Do you use Shopify or WooCommerce? Ideally, affiliate management software features seamless integration with your eCommerce platform of choice. If not? Don’t worry. That’s not always a deal breaker, especially if the software has other strong features and solid reviews. Just keep in mind that without integration, you might need a developer.

  • Customized reporting: You can tell a lot about affiliate marketing campaigns by studying revenue for specific days, weeks, or months. The magic starts happening when you compare different time periods, helping you notice seasonality trends or any dips and peaks linked to a new affiliate. Of course, time isn’t the only background for an affiliate report. But any software’s reporting feature should make it easy to toggle features and show you the most relevant data.

  • Creative asset sharing: Working with influencer affiliates? If they’re on Instagram, you might want to make it easy for them to share branded creative assets.

Assets section of tap
Image source: Tapfiliate assets section

  • Affiliate commission structures: Some affiliates bring more value — and you should adequately reward them. But if your affiliate software has only one commission tier or percentage? Or only features recurring commissions? That’s not sufficient for performance diversity amongst an eCommerce business’s hundreds of affiliates.

Look for software offering flexible commission rates. For eCommerce, that looks like time-based commissions (for example a commission increase for one month) per category/product commissions, and tiered rates based on milestones to reward successful affiliate performance.

  • Affiliate network communication: Communicating with your affiliates is just as important as communicating with your customers. Both influence customer satisfaction and brand awareness!

An affiliate marketing solution should make it easy to express your business needs and objectives to affiliate partners. Psst. Tapfiliate makes affiliate-brand collab easy as pie, but goes one step further to help you source affiliates. You’ll receive access to our Admitad Partner Network with 100,000 affiliates waiting to promote your brand to their loyal customer bases!

  • Automation possibilities: Automated tracking is the Holy Grail of affiliate software, but who says you can’t automate elsewhere? For example, Tapfiliate helps you automate affiliate onboarding with a little help from our Zapier integration.

  • Free trials: You wouldn’t buy a new pair of kicks without trying them on, right? Look at eCommerce affiliate software the same way. The companies most confident in their products offer free trials.

Want to check out what Tapfiliate can do for you? 👉get a 14-day free trial here

Software? Check. Now, let’s consider your affiliate marketing strategies.

Things to consider for your online store’s affiliate program

Maybe you already have a digital marketing strategy — but do you have one tailored to your eCommerce affiliate program? You’ll need to think about a few key factors:

  • Competitors: Some affiliates shine as la creme de la creme — but they won’t stick around for poor commission or unaligned brands. Content creators, publishers, and influencers alike hold their brands to a high standard, just like you would for your eCommerce store. That’s why they’ll only promote products that enhance their customers’ lives in some way, or services they actually enjoy.

So, how are other brands attracting affiliates? What are their goals? How do they promote their affiliate program online? Study competitor programs to find gaps in yours. That’s how you’ll stand out to potential affiliates.

  • Goals and KPIs: What’s your main objective for your affiliate program? Do you want more traffic and sales? Maybe you’re happy with your sales thus far, and want to focus on building authority. Once you set your goals, how will you measure success?

Popular KPIs for eCommerce affiliate programs include meeting targets for:

  1. Average order value
  2. Percentage of new customers
  3. Percentage of affiliate sales versus all sales
  4. Revenue per affiliate type (affiliate influencers versus bloggers, for example)
  5. Conversion rate

  • Affiliate software: Consider your shopping cart and look for software with appropriate integrations. Don’t forget to check reviews from customers with eCommerce businesses that resemble yours. Here is an image of Tapfiliate’s possible integrations.


  • Affiliate candidates: Competitor research comes in handy here. Check out which affiliate types your competitors use and assess their success and gaps. Are they using coupon sites? Paid search affiliates? Or influencers. Similarly, consider options they may have missed as you conduct affiliate recruitment.

  • Program manager: Do you have someone in-house to manage your affiliate program? Consider your existing staff and expertise to allocate duties accordingly. Otherwise, you might consider outsourcing to an agency or hiring a new staff member.

But your eCommerce commission rates deserve their own page in your strategy.

affiliate commission

Common affiliate commission payouts for an online store

Most online stores pay percentage-based commissions on the value of sales referred by the affiliate, also known as CPA (cost per action). But you have a few choices for affiliate commission payouts.

That commission percentage isn’t the same for all eCommerce businesses. It’s based on:

  • Space for bonuses: How much are you willing to award affiliates for a job well done? What’s your set performance bonus for meeting a milestone?

  • Cost per order: If you have slimmer profit margins, you’ll have less money in your budget to spend on commissions. You’ll still have to balance the two to attract quality affiliates, though.

  • Industry and competitors: Find out what your competitors offer. Do commission rates seem a little slim? Maybe they offer other perks that attract quality affiliates. Perhaps your products are more niche-specific, so you can offer more competitive rates.

But CPA isn’t your only option for commission payouts. You might also consider:

  • Pay-per-click commission (or CPC - cost per click): This structure doesn’t award commissions based on purchases. Instead, you’d pay affiliates a set fee per click (visit) on your website. Our advice? You’re better off with a percentage-based commission. PPC is more suitable for paid search campaigns. Plus, affiliate commissions based on PPC are more susceptible to fraud.

  • CPL (cost per lead): Cost per lead is a set dollar amount for any lead generated by an affiliate. This goes past clicks, and could include a social media follower, email subscription, or trial subscription. However, it’s uncommon to see this commission payout structure amongst e-commerce stores. You might see it for financial service providers, subscription services, or brands with a much longer conversion time.

Common pitfalls for an online store’s affiliate program

You’re well on your way to a booming eCommerce affiliate program. As you embark on your journey, look out for these dead-ends (aka, pitfalls):

  • No affiliate program manager: We know; labor costs are high right now. But delegating affiliate tasks to staff members with conflicting priorities only hurts your affiliate program. You need one point of contact to report on results, manage affiliate relationships, and give your program the attention it needs to improve sales and conversions.

  • No individual campaigns: You might have hundreds of campaigns for various products, seasons, or targeted audiences. But individual campaigns based on an affiliate’s unique expertise and audience are also a must.

  • Shallow affiliate relationships: Affiliate relationships are just as important as your other business relationships. They don’t take a back seat just because you don’t pay them a regular check or consult them on business decisions. Bottom line? Affiliates represent your brand. That’s enough of a reason to foster a healthy relationship with them. If they think fondly of your interactions, that’s just one extra push to add passion to their marketing efforts.

  • Minimal incentives for affiliates: If you command “f” this article and search for the word “commission,” you’ll probably notice it comes up a lot. That’s because competitive commission rates and structures are the lifelines of your affiliate program. Why? Because they’re inextricably linked to your affiliates’ performance and loyalty. Without satisfying incentives, aka compensation, affiliates will quickly shift to brands that pay them their worth. Similarly, cheaping out on performance bonuses has this effect. But there is a caveat to competitive commission rates, as you’ll read shortly.

  • Maximizing commission rates from the beginning: If you skyrocket commission rates so high that you can’t afford to ever raise them, you’ll have trouble retaining affiliates. You need to find a sweet spot where your commission rates attract affiliates, but are low enough to accommodate raises to engage affiliates later on.

  • Minimal communication with affiliates: An affiliate program is one of the most human marketing tactics you could use. You have a brand ambassador connecting with customers on their personal channel, connecting with them on a more genuine, casual level than your average ad. You’ll need to ensure affiliates present your brand with the utmost attention to your values and tone — and you can’t do that unless you regularly communicate with them.

Start your online store’s affiliate program today

Your eCommerce store might drive affiliate sales — but you need an affiliate marketing platform to grow those sales higher than your competitors. From automation and revenue tracking to affiliate relationship management, Tapfiliate offers brands the power to breeze through affiliate marketing tasks and slam targets.

Ready to jumpstart your online store’s affiliate program? We’re ready to help with real-time affiliate tracking, personalized dashboards, and customizable reports! Try Tapfiliate for free!

Ashley Howe

I’m the content strategist here at Tapfiliate. Living in Amsterdam, I like reading books, travel and ramen. You can find me on LinkedIn or Twitter..

Related articles

Referral Marketing: How to Get Your Customers to Promote Your Brand
19 Affiliate Marketing Trends to Look out for in 2023
How does automatic tracking work in affiliate programs?