I was surprised to receive a phone call today from somebody attempting to buy something from Lathams Fishing Tackle via a link on Anglers' Net and being met with an error page when he clicked on the link. This surprised me for two reasons:
- Despite their good prices and reputation for excellent service, we've not managed to do much business with Lathams, and;
- Upon investigation, I found that their affiliate scheme had closed. To my knowledge, we had no prior warning whatsoever that this was going to happen. When other schemes have closed, we've received at least a month's notice.
Most people are probably reading this and thinking, “What the blinking flip is an 'affiliate scheme'?” (or words to that effect), so I'll explain....
Unlike traditional magazines, where an advertiser pays in advance for advertising and then hopes that some customers come their way, many websites work on a commission basis. They are an 'affiliate' of the merchant. They will show a banner, or have a text link, and hope that their visitors are interested enough to pay the merchant a visit and buy something. If they do, the referring website will earn a commission.
You'll often hear website owners encouraging their users to use the links provided on the site, rather than bookmarks or search engines, as the links have the relevant tracking code in to ensure that credit is given where credit is due. If you don't use the links, someone else will earn the commission and your favourite website will suffer.
As I said initially, the apparent closure of the Lathams Affiliate Scheme won't affect us financially, but it is a shame. One thing we've been working on recently is the Anglers' Net Tackle & Bait Price Comparison Tool, where we featured the entire Lathams catalogue. This was in its infancy, but we had big plans for it, and losing a good site is a blow.
The obvious solution would be to find a replacement merchant to feature. Trouble is, as far as the internet goes, the fishing tackle industry is a bit in the Dark Ages. There are very few tackle shops that can provide websites like Anglers' Net with access to their product database. Most of those that do offer affiliate schemes are very basic and too labour intensive. To put it into perspective, I started getting involved in fishing websites in 1999 and most haven't moved on from the technology that was available back then (to be honest, my own skills haven't move on much, either, so I shouldn't complain!).
We'll keep plugging away with the price comparison tool. It still contains a wide range of products from Fishtec, Orvis, Sea Fishing Supplies, Mean And Green, and Outdoor Gear, so is of value to many users, I'm sure. In the meantime, if you do come across a good tackle shop that offers a fishing tackle affiliate scheme, please let us know and we'll take a look!
In the meantime, we'll also keep our fingers crossed that the Lathams programme appears again in a different guise. They were always recommended by our visitors, so it was nice to be able to recommend them to others.
P.S If you do come across any Lathams links on Anglers' Net, please let us know.