Affiliate marketing vs e-commerce.

Entrepreneurs usually consider the internet a way to develop a business or company that doesn’t involve a start-up cost. Establishing a business online can be a thrilling endeavor for ambitious businesspersons. Online companies can be established without the need for heavy costs for creating offices, organizing work materials, furnishings, and hiring employees and offer additional benefits of working from home without having to travel.

Luckily, consumer trends have also directed in the same way. Currently, more people opt for online businesses to find services and products instead of going to brick-and-mortar outlets for their needs.

With this online trend in mind, developing an online company can be a useful and effective approach in addition to being an economic opportunity. While establishing a business online comes with several advantages and conveniences, it can be tricky to make a strategic plan for your business. The very first decision that you have to make is to choose between an e-commerce and affiliate marketing business model.

Affiliate marketing and e-commerce: The difference

An e-commerce website is the one where people sell their services or products to customers or users with the help of an online store and earn money while customers purchase their products.

On the other hand, affiliate marketing promotes products from numerous brands. In affiliate marketing, visitors don’t go through the sales channel and go to the shopping cart as they do on an e-commerce website; instead, customers choose the product to buy and are directed to the website of that particular brand.

As a reward for directing the customer to the brand’s website where they make a purchase, the affiliate earns some commission on each sale. Sales are monitored through affiliate links between websites.

Here is the difference between affiliate marketing and e-commerce in terms of start-up cost, payment methods, and risk of tarnishing the reputation of the brand.

  1. Start-up costs

E-commerce has more start-up costs including operating an online shop and maintaining the site whereas affiliate marketing doesn’t involve much start-up cost.

  1. Payment methods

E-commerce businesses get full payment for the sale but affiliates earn some commission for each sale.

  1. Risk of tarnishing the reputation of the brand

Affiliate marketing is likely to tarnish the reputation of the brand if affiliates use wrong ways to boost sales but the status of a business on an e-commerce site can’t be destroyed by other parties until the business opts for working with them.

Benefits of Starting an Affiliate Marketing website

Less costly

Establishing an affiliate site is significantly economical than creating an e-commerce shop. However, the money will require setting up a website for both. Affiliate marketing doesn’t involve worrying about customer service, sales taxes, dropshipping, warehousing, payment processing, and other laborious facets of selling their products or services. The affiliate site doesn’t involve additional expenses as affiliates are only displaying the products from other brands, without the need for buying products, storing them, and delivering to the customers.

Nothing to worry about customer Service

Affiliate marketing involves marketers partnering with other brands so they don’t have to worry about providing customer service to the visitors on their website. But affiliates still have to be careful about selecting the brand to partner with who has a good reputation.

Earn Commission on products not displayed on their site

Affiliate marketers receive commissions on each sale of referred consumer purchases and also get commissions on the product sold that the user had not clicked originally on the affiliate site. It means affiliate marketers can get commissions on products that they haven’t seen or promoted.

Disadvantages of Affiliate marketing

  • Likely to tarnish the reputation of a brand if affiliate marketers make use of fake activities to boost sales

Benefits of Starting an Ecommerce Business

More margins on products

There’re no fixed rules about the margins that e-commerce brands can get on their items, they can set it freely on their own. In contrast, commissions in affiliate marketing are generally a fixed percentage of every referred sale that limits the commissions earned by the affiliates.

More control

Whether minimizing the start-up costs with dropshipping or operating a promo for new audiences, the online businessman with e-commerce stores can decide on their own about how to run things. In contrast, affiliate marketers are restricted to existing promotions that the particular brand is running.


It is a trade fulfillment approach that doesn’t have the company to keep items in stock. With the dropshipping approach, an e-commerce business can sell a product by purchasing it from a third party and ship directly to the customer. Consequently, the e-commerce company doesn’t have to manage the products.

This model can be beneficial for e-commerce businesspersons as it does not want as much upfront cost and effort as compared to traditional trade models. As sellers don’t have to purchase and stock product inventory, they can concentrate on investing in other business areas.

Disadvantages of E-commerce

  • No instant satisfaction because many products take considerable time before they reach customers.
  • Customers may not be able to interact and see items before making a purchase
  • Online security breaks cases discourage e-commerce
  • Limited customer service

Affiliate marketing vs e-commerce: which one is more profitable?

The choice of affiliate marketing or e-commerce depends on what entrepreneurs want to get out of it. The decision is entirely personal.

E-commerce involves making money in a short time, but it also comes with higher risk as you have to invest money in establishing your own inventory.

Affiliate marketing, on the other hand, involves considerably less risk and involves less struggle but the success will greatly depend on the source brand and appealing traffic to the site that can be an annoying process.

To make the decision, you have to keep in mind your lifestyle, your preferences as a business owner, and the energy and time you can put into your online business. Keep in mind all those things before choosing between affiliate marketing and e-commerce options. If operated well, both online business strategies can be successful and sustainable.

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