How To Start An Affiliate Program On Shopify [Guide]

Want to let others promote your business online? If so then have you thought about creating an affiliate program for your eCommerce business? There are both pros and cons for starting one which I’ll cover in this article.

The main drawcard for most store owners starting an affiliate program is they think can offload the sales and marketing to a third party and pay them a commission for each sale.

This is easier said than done, you can easily create an affiliate program, getting affiliates to actually promote your store is the real challenge.

As a full time affiliate marketer I can tell you 95% of merchants that use an affiliate program make no money what so ever. The main reasons for this include:

  • Poor commission structure
  • Limited cookie time frame
  • Unresponsive approval process
  • Delayed payments
  • Fraud.

Let’s look at these one by one.

Poor Commission Structure

Most eCommerce affiliate programs offer low commissions. I’ve seen 1-10% on most of them. Let’s suppose your average customer acquisition cost is 25% of their order value. Why would you then give the affiliate 10%. Your own business shows you could pay up to 25% to that affiliate for sending a sale.

Business owners get greedy and think they can low ball an affiliate to promoting for 10% and save money.

6% on cheap items is not worth time or effort.

Limited Cookie Time Frame

If an affiliate sends a visitor your way there’s a high chance they won’t purchase at that time but they may sign up for a newsletter or return tomorrow. If you’re setup with a 24 hour cookie that means an affiliate wouldn’t get the commission even though it was their visitor.

A good life span is 30-60 days and this is pretty common in the eCommerce industry.

90 Days Is Great For Affiliates

Unresponsive Approval Process

An affiliate has expressed interest in working with a store but doesn’t get a response for weeks and then gets a random approval email with no welcome follow up or joint venture details. It’s quite common for retailers to expect a lot and give a little when it comes to affiliates.

Be responsive and if you accept them within hours you’ll start the ball rolling on a good note.

Delayed Payments

Imagine if Stripe delayed your payments for a month until you’d fulfilled the order. You’d be pretty pissed off wouldn’t you. Unfortunately with affiliate sales there is an expectation that they should wait for 30-120 days to get their commissions.

This time frame allows for refunds and fraudulent orders to be no longer attainable by a customer.

If you want to attract affiliates you should offer weekly payments with a stop gap such as 25% in a reserve to cover refunds and fraud. It’s highly unlikely any decent affiliate is going to have such a high refund rate unless your product is causing those refunds.

Offers good EPC’s and Paypal.


The biggest one comes last and most people assume it’s the affiliate who defrauds by sending shit traffic, fake sales or buying the product/s themselves using their own affiliate link.

Fortunately you can use the technology available in modern day platforms to wheedle these people out.

The main fraud is committed by retailers who simply don’t pay the affiliate after the sales were made. They make claims such as the customers refunded, orders were cancelled, or simply disappear off the face of earth.

Unfortunately there are people out there that do this all the time, then simply rebrand their website and launch another affiliate program.

Affiliates Can Boost Your Sales

I’m sure you already know this but an affiliate can boost your sales instantly (especially if you get a good one) and you’ll make money for doing absolutely nothing.

One of my affiliate partners makes $100k per year from an article I wrote many years ago. I get 50k of that and without me he wouldn’t have that extra 50k.

How To Start An Affiliate Program On Shopify

how to start an affiliate program on shopify

The first step is to choose your platform, is a good option.

They offer a weekly webinar you can join to explore their features.

You can get started with a monthly plan for $89/mo and includes a free 14 day trial.

With this you get an unlimited number of affiliates, remember most will never send more than a few sales.

How Refersion Works

The first step is to setup your tracking and pixels to your website.

This is done by connecting their app with your Shopify store.

Refersion will provide a unique URL to your affiliate to promote. When they do and a visitor arrives, Refersion can track that visitor. If they proceed to checkout and buy something they will credit that sale to the affiliate and payout a commission to them.

You will need to approve each transaction and then setup a payment schedule as below.

The easiest way to pay your affiliates is to use Paypal mass payments, this requires no intervention from yourself. Simply have the money in your Paypal account and hit the confirm button and re-confirm and the payments will be sent right away.

Is Refersion Too Advanced?

It’s packed full of features and some users may be confused when they first get started. With that said it’s probably the best affiliate program for Shopify.

Go along too one of their webinars and see for yourself.

Remember, you can pay money each month but without affiliate’s it’s pointless.

Create an awesome offer, fast payouts, responses and banners/ads for your affiliates to use and it’s a good start.

Oh it also helps if you have a good product/website too 🙂

1 thought on “How To Start An Affiliate Program On Shopify [Guide]”

  1. Awsome advice man! keep up! i have couple of question relating to dropshipping.

    1) Card limits, paypal limits. how do i remove those limits?like if i got over 1000 order, how am i going to order a massive bulk of items? and will the bank block my card? or bank will have some kind of card for droppshipping?
    2)do aliexpress ban account that order too much? if so, what should i do?
    3) what steps or advice should i take ? inorder to not get block or ban? because overall about bank,cards limits ,taxes. all confusing to me.

    • I guess the best way is to scale sensibly, for example sending 1000 orders from day one is going to cause red flags.
      I usually build my accounts up over a few months.
      I also reach out to Paypal and show them my suppliers, order tracking details, upload tracking numbers etc.
      I don’t believe your card should be blocked by your bank provided you have cleared funds or pay it back?

      Aliexpress do not ban account for ordering too much but again its better to scale efficiently.


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