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Affiliate sales programs

This story appears in the February 2000 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine. has become one of the most pervasive brands on the Net, due in part to its savvy use of affiliate, or associate, programs (also known as revenue-sharing programs). By using referral fees, has created an extended network of associates who promote, review and sell merchandise through links to's Web site.

But you don't have to be a big guy like to copy this tactic in your own e-commerce endeavors. Brad Waller, Peter Olpe and Edward Arenberg, owners of EPage, a classified advertising service that lets people place ads for free, started their affiliate program a few months before did. Called the Classified Service Provider (CSP) program, the affiliate program has grown from 150 affiliate sites in 1996 to more than 15,000 today. Roughly 50 percent of the Redondo Beach, California, company's sales now come from its affiliates.

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