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No Chain, No Gain

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 theNet, due in part to its savvy use of affiliate, or associate,programs (also known as revenue-sharing programs). By usingreferral fees, has created an extended network ofassociates who promote, review and sell merchandise through linksto's Web site.

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

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