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How Do I Choose the Best Open Source Affiliate Software?

By Alex Newth
Updated May 16, 2024
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Open source affiliate software is used to manage connections between a business and affiliate and to help send commissions to affiliates. The program should be able to set commissions for products, so affiliates know how much money they will make. Reporting features are important for open source affiliate software, because they help the user know how many transactions are made, what affiliate should be paid, and the amount of traffic coming in. Payment features will ensure that the affiliate is paid when a sale is made, so no affiliate will feel cheated. The affiliate program also must have good documentation and an active user community, because open source programs may not have official technical support.

When a business creates an affiliate program, it sets a commission percentage that is paid to an affiliate each time a product is sold. To ensure that affiliates clearly know how much money they will make for each product, the open source affiliate program should be able to allow users to set the commission percentage. Along with the percentage, the affiliate can set the commission for a one-time sale or for the lifetime of the buyer’s membership in subscription websites.

A business needs to track its affiliates so it knows when sales are made. Powerful reporting features are necessary in open source affiliate software; otherwise, the business may forget to pay an affiliate, which can result in problems. This tracking also will let the business know which affiliates are doing the best, so they can receive bonuses to ensure they keep bringing in sales for the company. Tracking features also ensure that the right person is paid commission.

After a sale or membership is finalized, the business is obligated to pay the affiliate who brought in the customer. To satisfy different affiliates, different payment method modules should be available on the open source affiliate software. This allows the business to use checks, electronic transfers, bank transfers and other methods to pay the affiliate.

Some open source software is not built to the same standards as closed source software, because a business is usually not backing the project and the developers are not making any money on the program. The user should choose open source affiliate software that functions like a professional, closed source program. Active user communities also will ensure that the user has many people who can help in the event of the program’s failure or malfunctioning.

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Discussion Comments
By NathanG — On Aug 30, 2011

@everetra - I believe that you can find open source programs that offer such ease of use.

The article says that open source affiliate programs may not have the same support or backing as the commercial software packages. Let me put in my two cents here. While in a sense that is true, my experience with open source communities and software is that there is a world of backing for some of these products.

Developers are constantly working to enhance open source software packages; I am sure that this would apply to open source affiliate software programs as well. Obviously, you don’t want to go with an open source program that has ceased development. But otherwise you should be okay.

By everetra — On Aug 29, 2011

@Charred - I agree. I would like to chip in by saying that while you want the software to be easy for you to use as the owner of the business, you also want the affiliate portion of the program to be easy as well.

You don’t want your affiliates hopelessly mucking around with a lot of scripts, tags, HTML and stuff like that in order to know how to use it properly. Ease of use for the affiliate may also determine how many affiliates you pick up, and how long they stay with your program.

By Charred — On Aug 28, 2011

If you’re building an affiliate business for the first time, I would look for software that is plug and play ready. In other words, I would avoid any open source affiliate software that requires a lot of tweaking with scripts and things like that.

Obviously the software has to integrate with a shopping cart application so there will be some customization, but I would look for programs that offer a wizard driven approach to this customization.

Also, I agree with the article that the program should handle notification of purchases in a seamless manner, ensuring that it registers the sale properly and that the affiliate is paid right away.

It’s kind of an open secret that most affiliates aren’t making much money in the business, so you don’t want to lose the few that you have by not paying them right away.

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