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How used discount vouchers to grow its business

How used discount vouchers to grow its business

Being in the online garden centre business is a competitive life. Having sold up one of the best-rated garden centres in the business – Sanders Garden World in Somerset, brother and sister team Kerry and Michelle Michael turned their attentions to online retailing. Early in 2008, was born.

Peter Howarth, who was brought in by the Michaels as general manager to run the new venture, soon realised the difficulty of the challenge. Searches on just a few of the thousands of terms that might yield sales through the search engines revealed that it was affiliates who dominated the listings.

Determined to harness this newly-discovered virtual sales force, Peter set about learning the world of affiliate marketing.

This eventually led to investigating the potential for offering online vouchers for, and was pointed by one affiliate to Webgains. Having run trials with Webgains and a few other major affiliate providers, Peter decided on working with Webgains to help him build the business.

The brief was very simple: drive sales, increase online exposure and grow the customer database.


Webgains worked to identify affiliates that would be best suited to helping drive sales to Webgains also recommended the use of online vouchers to help attract customers in this competitive sector.

However, the key to the success of the programme – and any programme that exploits the power of discount voucher codes – was the use of exclusive codes for selected affiliates and the effective tracking of those offers.

A large problem with exclusive offers made available to particular affiliates is the ability of other discount voucher code sites to ‘scrape’ these vouchers from rivals’ sites. They can then offer the codes to buyers themselves and claim the commission from the merchant when customers use those codes to buy. But, Webgains technology tracks the specific codes so that, wherever any exclusive offer is used by a customer, it is always the correct affiliate that is rewarded.

The system also allows merchants to set specific commission levels for discount voucher code purchases, allowing them to control the margin erosion that can result from giving customers money off, as well as paying affiliate commission.

Webgains merchants can use the administration tools to set different commission levels for different offers in a very straightforward way. The system gives them enormous flexibility with how they reward affiliates and allows them to stay on top of their margins and marketing budgets.

A second and crucial step in the program was to help provide comprehensive product data feeds to affiliates. With his background in data systems in the aeronautics industry, Peter was able to understand and facilitate XML product feeds that update on a daily basis with available inventory, prices, product images and offers. Providing accurate and timely product data feeds is crucial to enabling affiliates to work at their best for the retailer.


The program has become a good example of the effectiveness of using discount voucher codes in any affiliate strategy. Peter’s Webgains program now includes more than 400 affiliates, about 20 of whom are discount voucher code sites.

The business has seen remarkable growth in just nine months, with the Webgains affiliates program accounting for 15% of the company’s overall sales.

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