Erica Forrette

Why Do Merchants Participate in Enterprise Cashback Programs?

As an advertiser, a company might already be running an online affiliate marketing program. Which is great, because as a performance marketing channel, affiliate programs are proven to be an effective and efficient way to drive incremental revenue for an online retail business. 

If a business is thinking about participating in cashback rewards programs, it’s easy to do. Since cashback rewards programs run on the backbone and existing “plumbing” of affiliate networks and programs, a company with an affiliate program can simply decide to approve publishers that deploy cashback browser extensions or other rewards and loyalty programs which leverage affiliate commissions to pay rewards to end-user customers.

But you might be wondering... why would merchants (aka, advertisers or retailers) participate in cashback rewards programs - in other words, “what’s in it for them?” 

The Benefits of Cashback Rewards Programs for Merchants

There are multiple benefits that merchants can enjoy by participating in enterprise cashback programs such as those powered by the Wildfire rewards platform.

Merchant Benefit 1: Instant consumer reach 

In recent years, cashback rewards programs funded by merchant affiliate program commissions, including PayPal's Honey, Capital One Shopping, Microsoft Rewards, and Acorns Earn, have exploded in popularity. 

As a result, millions of customers are now participating in e-commerce cashback rewards - representing a concentrated audience of shoppers eager to earn cashback for their online purchases.  In fact, at Wildfire, our network of worldwide partners represents over 800 million prospective new customers. 

Participating in an enterprise cashback rewards program like Wildfire’s can help merchants gain instant access to a massive network of prospective customers - without the challenge of building partnerships publisher by publisher.

Merchant Benefit 2: Better ROAS

Much digital ink has been spilled about the soaring costs of CPM and CPC advertising on social media platforms and ad networks. With ever-decreasing capabilities to target and re-target desired audiences, and with bots and ad fraud further weakening the effectiveness of these ads, the return-on-ad-spend (ROAS) on “traditional” digital media advertising has become unacceptable for many advertisers. 

But, because affiliate marketing spend (and therefore cashback / loyalty programs by extension) is based on a percentage of actual sales generated, a merchant's ROAS is protected. For example, a marketing manager for a merchant knows they will always have their costs fixed at say, 5% of their actual sales generated through the affiliate channel.

So they can allocate $100 for their affiliate channel line-item budget and know they will ultimately see $2,000 in sales, unlike Instagram ads where they may allocate $100 and see a return of maybe $200 in sales (a 20x ROAS vs a 2x ROAS).

In the current economy, smart merchants are reallocating their budgets to pay-for-performance marketing channels like affiliate programs, influencers, and cashback so they maximize their budgets.

Merchant Benefit 3: Increased conversion rates

The way that cashback rewards programs convey benefits to consumers greatly influences the likelihood a consumer will actually buy something from a given online merchant.

Many companies which offer e-commerce cashback programs actually use a browser extension to display the cashback opportunity at a retailer, which can act like a magnet, drawing the consumer through to the completed sale. 

In Wildfire’s cashback rewards platform, among other tools, we offer a white-label browser extension for Chrome or iOS Safari, which displays cashback offers at just the right time in the customer’s shopping journey.

Once a customer activates a merchant’s cashback offer in the browser extension, we’ve seen subsequent purchase completion (conversion) rates as high as 15% (compared to a 2022 average of 2.2% for general apparel sites per Statista.)  Plus, with other tools such as our Couponator feature, which automatically applies the best available coupons at checkout, cart abandonment is further reduced. 


As today’s savvy customers get smarter and smarter about finding the best deals when shopping online, it’s in a merchant’s best interest to set themselves apart by participating in as many cost-effective marketing channels as possible. The road to a converted online sale is winding (HBR reports 73% of consumers confirmed they use more than one channel during a shopping journey), and likely to become more challenging as macro-economic conditions change. Participating in cashback rewards programs is one proven way merchants can help their brand be seen by more rewards-hungry and bargain-driven consumers. 


Schedule a call with our Merchant Development team to learn how you can scale and grow your affiliate program easily.


Published by Erica Forrette June 7, 2022
Erica Forrette