Buddy Up: A Complete Guide to Ecommerce Partnerships

Establishing your own ecommerce brand is an amazing experience because it puts you in control. You get to set your own prices, host your own products and even set your own hours, so long as the customers are still buying. All that power can go right to your head, making you believe you can do it all on your own.

Spoiler alert: You can’t!

No matter how on top of things you are, you still need support. In this case, we are talking about expanding the reach of your ecommerce store by fostering partnerships. There are dozens of such opportunities for ecommerce vendors. Below are just a few examples of popular ecommerce partnerships and tips to get you started.

Ecommerce partnerships

Platform Providers

At first glance, this might seem unusual. But platform providers are essential partners for fledgling ecommerce vendors. If you want to know how to build an ecommerce website without forking over big bucks or spending a whole lot of time building it from scratch, you may want to work with a platform provider like Shopify. They provide simple and customizable templates, built-in payment processing, customer support and dozens of add-ons to make your store easier to manage. Be sure to do a little research to see which provider best fits your needs.

Social Media Advocates

In recent years, social media has become the leading avenue for ecommerce marketing. It is easy to deploy, free to start and engages web users in a two-way conversation with your brand like nothing else could. Establishing a social media partnership will grow your audience and, if done correctly, will convert potential shoppers into loyal customers.

There are two types of social media advocates: fans and influencers. Fans are unpaid followers who just love your business and can’t stop talking about your products. You can leverage these fans by messaging them over Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Let them know you appreciate their support and would love to send them a pack of stickers or coupon codes or whatever in exchange for free publicity to their family and friends. They will probably be more than happy to say yes. This is a low-cost way to spread the word about your e-store.

Influencers, on the other hand, are social media power users who command a large army of followers. They may or may not be familiar with your brand. This partnership is a little more formal because you are essentially renting their massive following to promote your brand. Start by reaching out to the influencer (who should target your same demographic) to see if they’d be interested in proselytizing your brand – perhaps in exchange for goods or cash. If they agree, allow them to control the messaging. They know their audience, after all.

Fashion pop-up shops
photo credit: PJ R / Flickr

Physical Store or “Pop Up” Partners

Brick-and-mortar stores might be on the way out, but they are not dead yet. In fact, many ecommerce vendors are seeing great success with pop-up shops, a temporary physical location where e-store owners can sell their goods in person.

Find a location for yourself or search for pop-up hosts in your area. Then promote your event through Facebook and email. Finally, set up your store to showcase popular products. The decorations you choose (which might include a live DJ) should exude your brand identity. Remember to employ an internet enabled POS system so you can accept credit card payments on site.

Affiliate Marketing

For those who don’t know, affiliate marketing is a partnership with a well-established ecommerce brand that agrees to promote your products in exchange for a percentage of each successful sale. The best part about this partnership is it has a 100 percent return on investment, since you won’t put down any money up front.

How do you get started? Affiliate networking sites like AffiliatePrograms.com or ShareASale will connect you to sympathetic e-stores. Of course, this road goes both ways. You too can earn extra cash by allowing another vendor to host products on your site.

Now that you know all about ecommerce partnerships, it’s time to start your own.