WooCommerce External / Affiliate Product Setup

How to Setup WooCommerce External / Affiliate Products

Have you ever thought about building an eCommerce site but decided against it because of a lack of products?  Fortunately, WooCommerce makes it easy to supplement your eCommerce site with third party affiliate products through the use of the “External/Affiliate Product” product type option.  The External/Affiliate product type option helps to eliminate the issue of not having enough of your own products when first starting out.  Using affiliate products allows you to beef up your eCommerce site with more products which in turn should theoretically lead to more traffic and more revenue over time.  In this Upload WP tutorial we’ll show you how to supplement your WooStore with external products so lets get stared…WooCommerce External / Affiliate Product Type Setup

Benefits of the WooCommerce External / Affiliate Product Type Option

In our example video below, we promote a soccer t-shirt on Zazzle.com which is a popular custom apparel marketplace.  The cool thing about using the external / affiliate product type option is that it does not take visitors away from our site until they are ready to actually purchase the product.  Only when our site visitors click on the Buy Product button (on the product detail page of our site) are they are taken to the product detail page for that product on Zazzle where they can buy the t-shirt.  This means that our site visitors cannot really tell who actually manufactures the products on WordCupTees.com.  The only thing they see is the large selection of products available which is what you want as the owner of the eCommerce site.

When you employ the external / affiliate product type option you set yourself up to reap the benefits of passive affiliate commissions by having a large product catalog.  You will get the referral commission because your Zazzle affiliate link is behind the “Buy Product” button.  Another positive thing about using the WooCommerce external / affiliate product option is that it cuts down on the amount of work you have to do while increasing your profits.  For example, when your site makes a successful referral you don’t have to do a thing in terms of actually processing the order like you would have to do if it was your own product.  Instead, the third party takes care of processing the order for you.  You simple collect the affiliate commissions each month via PayPal.

It’s Easy to Find Good Products to Promote on Your WooCommerce Site

Zazzle was a natural fit for WorldCupTees.com so we joined their affiliate program by simply creating a free account.  If your eCommerce site sells products other than t-shirts, simply find similar sites that fit your niche and see if they allow you to promote their products.  No matter what types of products your site sells, chances are excellent that there are many third party sites that would love for you to promote their products and earn commissions in return.

Exact Steps on how to Setup WooCommerce External / Affiliate Products

Step 1:  Identify the third party product(s) that you want to promote on your WooCommerce site.  In our tutorial video below, we identified a soccer t-shirt called “Go Hard” on the popular custom t-shirt site Zazzle.com.

Step 2.  Register for / join their affiliate program so that you earn commissions for each successful referral.  When you create an account with Zazzle you are automatically enrolled in their affiliate program and give an affiliate ID which you can append to the end of any product URL.  Other affiliate programs may require you to actually apply for their program.  Simply do the necessary research to figure out what you need to do to become an affiliate for the particular third party product(s) you want to supplement your WooStore with and get it done.

Step 3:  Identify / locate the affiliate URL for the product you are going to promote on your eCommerce site.

In this example, we identified our affiliate URL for the “Go Hard” soccer t-shirt on Zazzle by hovering over the “Share” button > clicking on Link > Link to this > copy the HTML > paste the HTML into Notepad > locate your affiliate URL inside the HTML

Step 4:  Get the images for the third party affiliate product that you are promoting on your site.  In our example we grabbed an image of the front and back of the Go Hard soccer shirt on Zazzle.com.

You can do this by right-clicking on the each product image > click Copy > open and image editing program such as Photoshop > paste the image into Photoshop via the CTRL + V keys > Save the product images to your computer for later use

Step 5:  Create a Product Title, product Long Description and a Short Description in Notepad.  I recommend creating original content and making it as long as possible so that your eCommerce site benefits from organic traffic.  In other words, make the product titles and descriptions your own instead of just copy and pasting them from the third party site.  Taking the time to write long, original product descriptions will pay off big time in the long run.

Step 6:  Now that you have you’ve identified the product you want to promote on your eCommerce site, registered to be an affiliate, located your affiliate URL for the product, gathered the product images and created an original product description you’re ready to add the product to your site.

To add an external / affiliate product to your WooCommerce site take the following actions… Log into your WordPress admin and go to Products > Add Product > copy and paste the Product Title, Long Description and Short Description from Notepad > change the Product Type drop-down to “External/Affiliate product” > paste your affiliate product URL in the “Product URL” text box > enter a Regular Price (higher than the actual price) > enter a Sale Price (the actual price of the product on the 3rd party site) > Publish the product and it will be live on your site. 

Important Notes on WooCommerce Affiliate Product Setup:

  • Product images should be uniform – make sure to use the exact same dimensions for all of your product image (your own products as well as affiliate products) so that your eCommerce site looks professional.
  • Please refer to our earlier UploadWP.com post on “WooStore Product Setup and WooStore Product Variations” for more detailed instructions on setting up a new product in the WordPress admin.

35 thoughts on “WooCommerce External / Affiliate Product Setup

  1. How can I make my product page, my home page, so that the main landing page is just a big list of products? Can you also designate how many columns of products are listed?

    Thank you.
    John Gaines

    • Hi John,

      Thanks for your question on making your home and product pages a list of your items. It would depend on the theme that you’re using. Are you planning on using the WooStore theme or Mystile theme? Please let me know the WooCommerce compatible theme that you plan on using and I’ll do my best to help.



  2. Hi! My woocommerce site will sell only affiliate products, so my question; is it possible for customers to add several items to my cart before being redirected to the external purchase site? or can they only by one item at a time? does the external site open in a new window so they can return to my site after the purchase? And what about returns and complaints etc..how does this work with affiliated sites? I appreciate your advice thank you.

  3. Hi there,

    I'm trying to set up affiliate products, I'm working on a catalog site to showcase specific items sold through our main site, and this sounds like exactly what I want to do! …. but the link/buttons don't show up. I have the url, the text, a price, the item is 'in stock', all that usual product info, but there's nothing showing up that directs the visitor to the actual store.

    Did I miss a step? 🙁

      • I swapped out the theme temporarily to see if there was any changes, and the link was there, everything was just fine, so the problem is definitely theme related. Thanks for setting me on the right track 🙂

  4. I really like this discussion and believe it's in the area of what I'm trying to do. I basically want my Zazzle products to be incorporated into a potential Woocommerce solution or template through a site called Themeforest.net. These are very professional but there is the questions of how to make it a site to sell Zazzle products? I agree that having the potential customer on my own domain site until the point of sale is the goal. I will try to utilize the steps and procedures mentioned above. I can't help to think that this type of incorporation whether its Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce, or Pretashop among others, haven't attempted to make this an achievable venture. I really wouldn't care who the e-Commerce or merchandise company is as long as it can be leveraged for some profit. I would simply like to have a professional-looking Zazzle shop be built.

  5. Teddy, how would I go about setting up my WordPress Site with multiple affiliate products from several different vendors? If a customer buys a T Shirt from my Zazzle Store (affiliate link) and another from, say, my CafePress Store…would they have to check out twice? Or is there a plugin that allows my customer to buy several products from different affiliates but only checkout once and pay for everything at the same time?


  6. Is there any other affiliate program that we can use their image freely for our wocommerce site and not conflicting with their terms of service just like zazzle? Because of this question, my woocommerce website progress is can't be launched yet.
    Is amazon product images can also be used or edited freely like how zazzle is?

    • Hi Roman,

      I'm not sure I'm following your question. It really depends on the affiliate program your promoting. For example, if MyTshirtSite.com had an affiliate program, I would let my affiliates use my product images on their site if it resulted in more sales. So step 1 is to decide who you want to be an affiliate of. Step 2 is talk to one of their account managers and ask if they'll allow you to use their product images on your site. Most likely they will.

  7. Hi Alex,

    thanks for this great post.

    I have a Problem: I want to sell my music with more than one license. For example "private" and "commercial". My customer should be able to choose between those two licenses. I don´t need a real shop with cart button, because I sell via Digistore24.com (similar to share-it) wich is an external shop that comes with a partner program and I can set up vendors (when working on songs with other composers) So thats very interesting to me.

    So, can I use the product-retailers-plug-in to set that up? Basically there only need to be two buttons "private" and "commercial" and NO cart button, since the links that are behind the buttons lead to the external shop…


    • Thanks for the positive feedback and your question Timo. I'm not yet had a chance to work with the Product Retailers extension for WooCommerce. However, from the plugin documentation it sounds like it should work well for what you're doing. However, before moving forward, please feel free to ask for feedback from the Upload WP Community in our forums here… https://uploadwp.com/community/index.php



      • Hi Adam,

        thanks for your quick response…

        There is only one thing missing now: there is no player on my category page:

        Is it possible to NOT show a picture and show the soundcloud-player there instead? My customers should be able to listen to every song in every category BEFORE they open a products-page.

        The soundcloud-Player has an image already. It would be great if I could paste the soundcloud-code in one field in the Dashboard and it would be displayed where the image is normally…

        Is that possible somehow?


        • Hi Timo,

          For SEO purposes you'll want to show a product pic. For more help on this, please go to the Upload WP Forums, become a member and start a new thread. We have many forum members that will most likely point you in the right direction.

  8. Hi Teddy,

    Above you mention: “Product images should be uniform – make sure to use the exact same dimensions for all of your product image (your own products as well as affiliate products) so that your eCommerce site looks professional.”

    All of our very own product images have been uploaded with the same sizing. However, we use also an Amazon Affiliates plugin (https://codecanyon.net/item/woocommerce-amazon-affiliates-wordpress-plugin/3057503), and we are not able to control the image sizes of the products we import through this plugin.

    Do you know of any plugin or solution that can control the size of the product image frames? That way the Amazon images can come through at whatever size they already are, but when you look at it on our website, the image shrinks to fit into the frame?

    Or, can you think of another solution?

    Thank you!

  9. Hi Teddy,

    i am setting up an onlineshop with affiliate products, thus if I create a product, I am selecting “External/Affiliate Product”. How is it possible to display attributes such as colour or size as a dropdown menu on the product page next to the product image (below the buy button or somewhere)? As far as I can see this is only possible with variable products. Any workarounds you know of?

    Thx a ton

  10. Thanks this post has been very helpful. I was wondering if there’s a way to use my own Woocommerce Checkout, but NOT have products locally in the database. In other words, have them created on-the-fly if you will by calling a REST url and retrieving the products details from an external system?


  11. I’m familiarizing myself with WordPress and WooCommerce and have found your website and Youtube channel to be informative.

    I was wondering how do you add more than one affiliate link for the same product?

    For example, let’s say I want to promote a product that is available at 3 different online stores and I am an affiliate of all 3 stores.

    WordPress only allows me to type in one url in the space that says “Enter the external url to the product.”

    I would like to offer readers the option to compare prices and I also don’t want to be stuck with just one retailer.

  12. Great info.
    Is it possible to create an affiliate system with woocommerce where people can register as affiliates and will be able to edit the affiliate product url to their own url (Basically its going to be clickbank) and whenever one visits the site through their link then purchase the product from clickbank through their link they will receive all the commission rather than we receiving any share from it.?

  13. Hi There,

    I am using WooCommerce Product Retailer Plugin for my price comparison site. I gather the price data from the multiple stores. When a particular product is opened it shows the price I setup and not the one from any of the retailers. Can I make the products to show the lowest possible price from any of my retailers? Also is there any way to apply a sorting order as per the price in Product retailer plugin?

  14. Everything is great to a point. You say it yourself Andrew, “I’m going to fly through this.” Still can’t find help figuring out why I’m getting an error image when I upload an image to the ‘set product image’. Of course it’s an affiliate product image from my zazzle store. How do I prepare the zazzle image? I add the location URL to the zazzle product image. To where do I save this image from the zazzle site in order to upload file from when in my wp add new product menu?

  15. Is it the latest upgrade of wp 4.4.1? Woo commerce was much easier before and I never had a problem uploading product pictures of course I wasn’t using affiliate sites before either. I uploaded zstore basic manager plugin. Figured that’s all I needed to do…..

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