I’d like to answer a few questions that have popped up. None of them warrant a long answer, so hopefully covering all of them here will more or less ‘clean house’ and possibly provide help to other people wondering the same thing(s). So in no particular order…
1. Why does the ‘Buy’ button appear with some categories (Wireless, Kindle, Downloads, etc.) instead of the ‘Add to Cart’ button?
For reasons known only to themselves, Amazon does not want items from these categories going into a remote AWS cart (like AOM uses). It may have to do with how they are processed (signing up for a phone plan, accessing a download link, etc.) So in these specific cases, the ‘Buy’ button is used instead of ‘Add to Cart’. They have gotten better over time at separating some items like wireless phone accessories, which should not need any special processing. The question has been raised with them to allow these products into AOM carts (or at least more of them), but so far there’s been no significant change. Note that Kindle book downloads no longer earn commission. But as with all other links and carts, if a customer clicks on a ‘Buy’ button from your site and then continues shopping on Amazon, you are credited for all applicable items purchased in that session.
2. Can AOM display products from Endless.com?
For those who do not know, Endless.com is a somewhat separate branch of Amazon that deals in shoes and handbags. Commission for links to Endless products are usually much higher than the same items available through Amazon itself.
Amazon allows you to create links to Endless, but it is excluded from the API (the data stream from Amazon that AOM draws upon for products). So for now at least, it’s not possible to link to Endless merchandise through Associate-O-Matic. This may or may not change one day; I really don’t know.
3. What is the legality of using brands (brand names/logos) in AOM sites?
As I am not a lawyer, I cannot dispense legal advice; however common sense may prevail in most (but not all) cases. The Amazon Associate Operating Agreement currently states that you may not:
include “amazon”, “endless”, or any other trademark of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates, or variations or misspellings of any of them, in their URLs to the left of the top-level domain name (e.g., “.com”, “.net”, “.uk”, etc.) — for example, a URL such as “amazon.mydomain.com”, “amaozn.com”, “amazonauctions.net”, “endless.mydomain.com”, or “endlss.com” would be unsuitable.
I have seen people try this with AOM sites, and I do warn them. They ignore the warning at their own risk. As far as using other brand names/logos, etc., it probably depends on the personal policy of the owner of the copyrighted material. Some do not seem to care, while others zealously guard their brand images, etc. The best policy is to avoid using them wherever possible.
Contrary to some opinions I’ve seen expressed, using a copyrighted image or logo just because it’s also on Amazon is no guarantee of protection should push come to shove. Technically, using a copyrighted image for a header is an infringement, even if you are making money for the copyright holder. While some of us have gotten nasty letters from lawyers regarding various intellectual ideas being used for our sites, resorting to a ‘prior use’ defense (i.e. Amazon uses it too!) probably wouldn’t stand up in court. Many writers of these letters are often obviously unaware that they’re dealing with an Amazon affiliate. It’s up to you to decide whether or not to fight or give in. But as mentioned in the last paragraph, avoiding the argument in the first place is probably the best way to deal with the issue.
Although even that is no promise that somebody won’t complain.
4. The software is supposed to not require any programming knowledge, but I’m flummoxed by it!
AOM does not require advanced programming skills; however, some basic knowledge of how to do things on the Internet is assumed. These include:
- Knowing how to download and unzip files
- Knowing how to upload files to a web server
- Awareness of file permissions and how to set them (or how to ask your host)
Additionally, any basic knowledge of HTML is useful.
When no programming ability is suggested, that means you don’t have to set up MySQL databases, open multiple files and set parameters; deal with selecting and loading various ‘modules’ for various tasks, and the like. Many popular programs do, with various bulletin boards, portals, etc. coming to mind. But if you struggle with how to unzip a file or upload a logo image (and yes, I’ve been asked both of those), then you might find AOM a challenge. It’s difficult to make it any simpler without limiting the available options for customizing it. Amazon’s aStore for example, is very easy to set up, but all the sites look alike.
That said, it’s our hope that this site, the AOM forum, and the Support ticket process mean that users have a range of options to help them get started, or assist them with any problems that may arise later on.
5. Why is there so little shipping information displayed for Amazon Merchants?
Except in certain cases (like Pro Sellers), all merchants on Amazon are required to offer standard shipping. Amazon gives them a flat credit regardless if that actually covers the cost of shipping the item(s). So when you purchase something from a merchant through Amazon, you pay the flat fee for standard shipping; the merchant packages up the item and sends it to you. The merchant may elect to say something about dispatch times in their comment section, but they don’t have to, as long as they stick to Amazon’s suggested shipping expectations, usually 4-14 days.
So there isn’t much to say about it other than ‘it’s standard shipping, sent in a timely manner’. You can read more about shipping credits for Merchants using Amazon.com here.
Merchants that use Super Saver Shipping (there are a few) or Expedited Shipping will almost always mention that.