January 27, 2010, 12:00 AM

Year-end cash-back program contributes to Market America’s 35% growth

Mass market web retailer and online marketplace operator Market America rolled out a 2% cash-back program in November that helped boost 2009 online sales to $321.3 million, a 35% increase compared with 2008.

Mass market web retailer and online marketplace operator Market America Inc. rolled out a 2% cash-back program in November that helped boost 2009 online sales to $321.3 million, a 35% increase from $238.4 million 2008.

“Before, our customers received a good experience and access to a lot of products, but we felt we needed another incentive to get people to the web site,” chief operating officer Marc Ashley tells Internet Retailer. “We wanted to reward our customers.” Market America is No. 66 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide (a PDF version of the company’s financial and operating profile can be ordered by clicking on its name).

Market America’s rewards include sales increases on MarketAmerica.com of 49% in November and 51% in December, compared with the prior year, and online sales growth of 12.5% at partner stores from November 27 to December 31, Ashley says.

The cash-back offer is good on purchases of more than 35 million products available on MarketAmerica.com, including Market America’s own branded products and items offered on the site by thousands of partner retailers including Target Corp. and Saks Fifth Avenue.

The program, which Market America identifies with a “ma cashback” icon that shoppers click when placing an order, also is available on Market America’s e-commerce sites for Canada, Australia, Taiwan and Hong Kong. To participate, shoppers enter an e-mail address and other personal information into a brief online form.

The program makes its cash-back offers available for immediate redemption and has no earnings cap on purchases. Once a consumer’s cash-back value reaches $50, she can request a check for the rebate amount instead of applying the value toward future Market America purchases.

In addition to the 2% cash-back offering, Market America sweetened the pot with a recurring 0.5% cash return for customers whose friends or family members buy the company’s branded products or buy from its more than 3,000 partner retailers. “We’re offering an incentive to buy what they already buy and get cash back, but also an incentive for referrals,” Ashley says. “And it’s not just a one-time referral payment-it’s forever.”

The next phase of the incentive program launches tomorrow with cash-back deals from retailer partners. Examples include 10% from apparel and sportswear manufacturer Antigua, 6% from Apple Inc.’s iPhone store, 5% from Columbia Sportswear and 4% from David’s Bridal Inc.

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