RealTime IT News

Cash-Back Incentives Lure Online Buyers

When Ebates launched in 1998, the online shopping network redefined the affiliate marketing concept by adding a new -- and desirable -- spin: rebates for buyers.

"The company's strategy is really very simple. I pay a 10 percent commission for the sales Ebates generates for me, and they pass that 10 percent savings on to the customer," explained Jeffrey Reberry, affiliate marketing manager for Greenwood, Colo.-based eBags.

eBags -- which sells luggage, handbags, backpacks and related products -- has been a client of the San Francisco-based company since June 1999. "The results we have experienced with this program have been great," Reberry said. "This is incentive-based shopping at its best. The company has a loyal, online customer base; the conversion rates are exceptional and it is a cost-effective way to drive traffic to our site."

Customers who join the online shopping community can enjoy up to 25 percent cash back on their purchases, noted Alessandro Isolani, CEO of Ebates. "Signing up for the program is free, quick and it only requires filling out a simple form on the site requesting minimal personal information," he said. "Virtually every item purchased through the site qualifies for a rebate.

"We track the rebates customers are due and, on a quarterly basis, we either mail them a check or credit their accounts," he added. "We can also donate the rebates, or a percentage of them, to customers' favorite charities. A record of the rebates coming to customers can be accessed by clicking on the 'Account Summary' page."

Site features additionally include a downloadable program that alerts members when special offers come to play, a 'My Favorites' option that stores up to 20 of the most frequently shopped locations, customer care live chat, and a search function that tours the site by rebate, category or store name.

"The service is revolutionary," said Michael Tabasso, affiliate marketing manager for globalsports.com.

The company, based in King of Prussia, Penn., develops and operates e-commerce sporting goods businesses for a variety of vendors, including Sports Authority and Fog Dog.

"Sales coming through the Ebates site have been phenomenal," Tabasso said. "I rate the company among the top 10 of our 70,000 affiliates. The revenue Ebates has generated for each of our partner companies is a measure of the excellent job it performs."

Although the Ebates community houses retailers who sell similar products, both Reberry and Tabasso stated that cannibalism of sales is not a concern.

"We have two or three competitors in that community, but there is no doubt that we are doing well by participating in this network," said Reberry. "The conversion rates through Ebates are the highest among all of my affiliate partners."

Although globalsports.com enlists competitive vendors as part of its network, Tabasso states that Ebates is a cure, not a problem.

"Each retailer adds value to the shopping network," he said. "Plus, the customers who come through the network are very loyal. Each outlet has its own customer base and each sale would not have occurred without the presence of the specific retailer. When you think about it, this is the way to shop."