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Apathy and the Affiliate Industry?

It has been over two months since we published the sample documents that would enable merchants to open up their programs to New York affiliates and many merchants who had terminated NY affiliates have yet to act. It is somewhat ironic to note that many merchants who never removed New York Affiliates have incorporated the solution into their programs to prevent a problem from occurring in the future.  We of course applaud those merchants for being proactive.

As to the merchants who have yet to act, I have mixed opinions depending on the merchant. Some are working with their corporate office and have kept the line of communication open. We understand that it takes time to implement, especially with larger companies. There are others that are avoiding the issue. Someone asked me if I thought merchants lack of action was due to apathy.

If we define apathy as the “lack of emotion or interest” it is not apathy that is causing lack of progress. My opinion is that there is no sense of urgency or need perceived by merchants. It may be only a slight difference in phrasing but it is significant in terms of results.

While at Summit I was overwhelmed by the support shown by merchants and program managers. Many spoke to me about how they did not understand what it was like to be an affiliate and the impact of getting kicked out of programs. The importance of sitting face to face was critical. Now we are all back to electronic correspondence and the has urgency faded.

While at the Share A Sale Think Tank this past weekend many I spoke to were surprised that the “NY Affiliate Tax” was still an issue and a problem. Many expressed surprise saying “but isn’t there a solution?”. Yes there is a solution but in some cases it has yet to be implemented. In addition, the termination of NY Affiliates is still taking place. In the past seven days two more merchants have removed NY Affiliates.

The removal of NY Affiliates is out of sight and maybe even out of mind for some merchants. I think this is a grave error and not because I am a New York affiliate. I say this because I am an affiliate who is concerned about the industry.

I think merchants are being shortsighted in not taking the opportunity to be proactive. They should be preparing for the changing times. Affiliates that have elected to remain quiet while NY affiliates are kicked out of programs are also doing themselves a grave disservice. It is not just a tax issue. Far more is at stake here.

Everyone in the affiliate industry should be aware that the industry is changing, e-commerce is changing.  We need to act and not simply look the other way hoping for the best. We need to help lead the way to a better industry for all parties.

It is not apathy but a lack of urgency. I am not sure if, or how, we can create a sense of urgency. All I can do is keep moving forward and hope; not stand still and hope, but move forward.

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Katie G. Hope October 22, 2008, 1:43 pm

    You’re spot on when you say affiliates from ALL states must stand together. It’s only a matter of time before EVERY state jumps at the chance to emulate NY’s stance.

    How long before greedy NY demands to collect tolls from people who use Google Earth?

  • Melanie October 23, 2008, 11:48 am

    Exactly right Katie, many states will follow -especially during these tough financial times. The way I see it, within a couple years, either states will all start charging their own tax on internet orders or the states will move forward on a streamlined flat rate for all states. I believe 22 states are signed up and getting ready.

    As an affiliate, I would want a say in how this goes. Merchants too should speak up, would really simplify their end.
    Thanks for posting :)

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