Surviving Amazon’s Crushing 80% Commission Cut

It was an average day, or at least as average a day as can be during a global pandemic.

On April 14th 2020, an email popped into my inbox from Amazon Associates program.

Amazon Email

Like many Amazon affiliates around the world at that same point, our collective hearts sunk and our mouths gaped wider than the sky. Effective from April 21st 2020, Amazon in their wisdom are about to slash affiliate commissions in many categories by as much as 80%! Some high end categories remain untouched but most have been pummelled. You can read more here.

Amazon Changes

There is no sugar coating this as good news, its not, in fact its awful news at the worst time as well.. Understandably, Amazon affiliates on forums have gone into meltdown with some proclaiming this to be the end, Amazon RIP.. No doubt about it, this is a cruel blow and another indicator that Amazon are looking at ways to cut costs and boost profits.



Soon the dust will settle, the knee jerk reactions will be replaced by questions about can we still make money from Amazon’s affiliate program. I believe the answer is yes and in fact, it could also be a boost to many of us.

As affiliates, we are a very resourceful bunch and we know how to adapt. In the 18 years I have been doing this, I have seen many policy changes from Google, Amazon and others that at the time seemed like the end. Policy changes so drastic and so sudden they always seemed insurmountable and final.

The first one that sticks in my mind was back in 2005. Google Adwords changing their policy on only one affiliate being allowed to direct link on their front page of searches. Prior to that, it was a free for all with affiliates bidding to be on page one with direct links to Amazon affiliate offers. 

The aftermath of that policy change was the same sort of doom and gloom. It did make things harder to turn a profit but it was far from the end.

Here are my 5 tips to not only survive the Amazon commission cut but how to prosper from it.

Top 5 Amazon Commission Cut Survival Tips

Tip 1

At the time of writing this only affects the Amazon US associates program. The fee structures remain unchanged in every other program around the world.

For example, the UK has its own fee schedule and is different to way Amazon US structures its commission rates. Amazon UK still has a 12% rate for some fashion items for example! Of course, Amazon US is a much bigger playground to play in but adapt and survive..

Start looking at international programs. Look at ways to translate your sites into multiple languages and use Geo targeting techniques to show relevant products to relevant nations.

Amazon Fee Structure
Tip 2

Many sites will fall.. Its a dog eat dog world where the fittest will survive.

Okay, a bit over dramatic but if you are a glass half full sort of affiliate then you will get through this and prosper. For the rest, it will all seem like too much like hard work for little reward.

Canon Keywords

Sites currently ranking for low to medium difficulty keywords will be left to gather dust and eventually wither and die. This will leave a vacuum that the resourceful affiliate can fill.

Tip 3

Track and test is the key to finding the best converting offers for your links.

If you do not do it already, start implementing some good A/B testing and tracking software to try out different affiliate offers for the same links on your site.

I use FunnelFlux which does an amazing job of this and ensures that I always find the best converting offers for my traffic. You can try it for just $1 so test it for yourself.

So, you need to start putting your Amazon affiliate offers up against other affiliate offers.

You may still find that the Amazon offers make more money than other programs due to the pulling power of Amazon.

Tip 4

The pulling power of the Amazon brand is the big draw that keeps affiliates interested. In comparison to other affiliate programs they have always offered a much lower commission rates. Their cookies are only for 24 hours, so they have never had much else going for them, lets be honest.

There are other places that have similar big brand pulling powers to Amazon but with better rates for affiliates.

Walmart for example is a base commission of 4% for toys, electronics and games. This is much better than Amazon now.

Amazon Alternatives

You should sign up for CJ, Shareasale and Rakuten as well. They still have some fantastic affiliate offers from some of the big brands out there like Fitbit, Barnes & Noble and Autozone.

Tip 5

This last tip is a bit sneaky and could be considered dirty but I think its warrented given the lack of respect shown by Amazon.

Find other affiliate programs as highlighted in the other tips with better rates etc..

Now use your marketing skills and writing expertise and amend your existing copy into reasons why Amazon should be avoided when buying this item.

Things like,

  • Amazon have inflated prices for this item.
  • Customer service is lacking from Amazon.
  • Give your visitors a good reason why they should click your link instead.
  • Offer them some after sales support perhaps. Even if it is just a 5 page pdf with FAQ’s on it, just offer something tangible.

As cruel and vicious as this slashing of commissions is to all affiliates, it is not the end of the world.

Just be resourceful and remember, so long as the targeted traffic is coming into your site, you have the power to monetise that traffic however you wish.

As the old saying goes, why worry about things you have no control over? You can only control what you have control of. So Amazon can take a running jump.

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