The first thing that struck me about Shopping Sherlock was its remarkable similarities with the failed MLM opportunity, My Shopping Genie.
Not surprisingly, after a bit of poking around I soon learnt that this was due to the fact that Shopping Sherlock has been built using My Shopping Genie’s assets.
Although the idea of an affiliate shopping toolbar is nothing new, there has only been one prominent company that’s combined it with an MLM compensation plan.
Launched in late 2007, My Shopping Genie was run by ‘MyNetUniverse’ and attracted a significant affiliate base, however overall didn’t really seem to gain any solid traction over the years.
By September 2011 reports were coming in that My Shopping Genie hadn’t paid affiliates for 6 months in some cases and by May 2012, the company had shut it doors and closed down.
Come early June, reports broke out that My Shopping Genie assets (primarily the backend for the shopping toolbar, had been bought by Michael Wiedder, founder of MLM company ‘Best in U’.
I’d give you a bit more information about Best in U, but their company website is currently giving me ASP errors when I try to view the compensation plan or ‘our team’ webpages.
That said, I do note the company is based and operated out of the US state of California.
Moving on, just a few days after the acquisition was announced, news then broke that Wiedder (photo right) was launching Shopping Sherlock which, if you take a look at the software, is quite obviously built on the My Shopping Genie technology.
One of the biggest problems with My Shopping Genie was that, despite the business opportunity revolving around the idea that those using the software would attract shoppers and earn commissions off their purchases, the reality of the business was that My Shopping Genie affiliate commissions were primarily driven by recruitment.
In analysing the business, I suspected that My Shopping Genie failed to attract retail users of the tool (which was given away for free), was due to the fact that the software at best was just a price comparison tool linked to a pool of affiliate programs parent company MyNetUniverse were members of. These affiliate programs weren’t exclusive and as such anyone could join them.
Thus the only reason to participate in My Shopping Genie was the recruitment commissions paid out by attracting new affiliates to the scheme.
In launching Shopping Sherlock, I note that a lot of the marketing spiel sounds pretty similar to what My Shopping Genie were pushing out back in the day. The big question of course is how similar are the business models between the two companies.
We already know the business model My Shopping Genie was using has proven to be non-viable, so has Michael Wiedder come up with something new or will Shopping Sherlock run into the same problems My Shopping Genie had?
Read on for a full review of the My Shopping Sherlock MLM business opportunity.
The Shopping Sherlock Product Line
The Shopping Sherlock opportunity revolves around the Shopping Sherlock software. This software is a toolbar that end-users install on their computers and once installed, captures online activity.
If you search for products using a search engine for example, the software displays a list of affiliate offers ‘on top of the search results‘. It can also display advertising from affiliate partners with the idea being that if an end-users purchases or clicks on an advertisement within the Shopping Sherlock software, the referring affiliate earns a commission.
Just like My Shopping Genie, Shopping Sherlock can also be personally branded by affiliates (to remove the Shopping Sherlock logos from the software).
Businesses are also able to create coupon vouchers (through affiliates) which can then be offered to Shopping Sherlock members.
In this sense, as far as I can tell the Shopping Sherlock and MyShoppingGenie platforms are extremely similar in nature.
The Shopping Sherlock Compensation Plan
The Shopping Sherlock Compensation Plan offers distributors affilaite commissions on the sale of products through Shopping Sherlock, the attraction of businesses who create vouchers through the system and on the recruitment of new Shopping Sherlock distributors.
Shopping Sherlock Membership Ranks
There are various components of the Shopping Sherlock compensation plan where commissions and qualification for commissions are determined by a Shopping Sherlock affiliate’s membership rank.
There are seven membership ranks within Shopping Sherlock and, along with their qualification criteria, are as follows:
- Registered Representative – sign up for $19 (recurring annually).
- Independent Sherlock Distributor – sign up for $239 and get five end-users to install Shopping Sherlock with your affiliate key. To maintain qualification Distributors must accomplish three verified installs a month. This requirement is removed once a Distributor reaches 40 verified installs.
- Registered Sherlock Distributor – sign up for $249 and get five end-users to install Shopping Sherlock with your affiliate key. To maintain qualification Distributors must accomplish three verified software installs a month. This requirement is removed once a Distributor reaches 40 verified installs.
- Power Distributor – recruit 4 Shopping Sherlock Distributors (one must be on your left binary team and one on your right), have 10 Shopping Sherlock Distributors in your downline and 10 verified Shopping Sherlock verified software installs.
- Power Distributor Builder – personally recruit a Power Distributor affiliate in both your left and right binary teams.
- Gold Power Distributor – personally recruit 3 Power Distributors and have 6 in total in your binary organisation (maintaining at least one personally recruited Power Distributor in each binary team)
- Global Power Distributor – personally recruit 4 Power Distributors, have 8 in total in your binary organisation (maintaining at least one personally recruited Power Distributor in each binary team) and have 20 verified Shopping Sherlock software installs
- Diamond Power Distributor – personally recruit 8 Power Distributors (in eight individual unilevel legs), have a total of 16 Power Distributors in your binary team (at least one personally recruited on each binary team) and have 40 verified Shopping Sherlock software installs
When users (affiliates and customer) using the Shopping Sherlock software, they can generate either purchase, pay-per-click (advertisements), pay per offer and something called “S2 Gamer Affiliate Commissions” (no further information is provided).
These commissions are paid to Shopping Sherlock who then split the affiliate commission with the referring affiliate. Percentage commissions paid out will vary depending on the affiliate program interacted with.
Two commissions are paid out on the use of vouchers created through the Shopping Sherlock software.
- 5% is paid out on the purchase price of each voucher purchased by end-users of Shopping Sherlock to the affiliate who referred the end-user
- 5% is paid out on the purchase price of each voucher sold company-wide to the affiliate who refered the business who created the voucher
Affiliate Override Commissions
In addition to the commissions outlined above, override commissions are also paid to the referring affiliates, paid out on any shopping commissions earned (voucher commissions are excluded).
This override commission is 20% of all shopping commissions earned by affiliates a Shopping Sherlock has personally recruited.
Qualification for affiliate override commissions is the recruitment of two new Shopping Sherlock affiliates with 72 hours of joining the company, or the recruitment of 4 affiliates in total (no time limit).
As with My Shopping Genie, Shopping Sherlock affiliates earn $100 each time they recruit two new Shopping Sherlock affiliates.
Note that Shopping Sherlock recruitment commissions are only available to affiliates who distribute a minimum of three Shopping Sherlock verified installs of the software each month. This requirement is waived once 40 total verified software installs has been reached.
A verified software install is an end-user installing the Shopping Sherlock software using an affiliate’s software license key.
Residual Recruitment Commissions
Residual Recruitment Commissions in Shopping Sherlock are paid out using a binary structure.
A binary compensation structure places an affiliate at the top with two legs branching out under them. These two positions form the start of a “left” and “right” team.
In turn, these two positions branch out into another two and so on and so forth, with the first few levels of a binary compensation structure look something like this:
Using this structure, Shopping Sherlock pay out $50 each time 2 new affiliates have been recruited (counting two on the left team and two on the right). Note that new affiliates are only counted once and affiliates recruited by your downline (affiliate’s you’ve recruited) also count, as they are placed in your binary.
The residual component of the commissions pay out $10 every month when affiliates pay their monthly membership fees. $10 is paid out for every group of 4 affiliates that exists within a binary structure (grouped 2 on the left and 2 on the right).
$10 is also offered when affiliates in a binary compensation structure qualify for affiliate override commissions.
Recruitment Commission Caps
Both the residual and direct recruitment commissions paid out by Shopping Sherlock are capped weekly.
- Registered Representatives are capped at $1000 a week
- Distributors are capped at $2000 a week
- Power Distributors are capped at $3000 a week
- Gold Power Distributors are capped at $10,000 a week
- Global Power and Diamond Power Distributors are capped at $20,000 a week
Residual Recruitment Commissions Matching Bonus
Matching Bonuses in Shopping Sherlock are paid out using a unilevel commissions structure.
A unilevel commissions structure places an affiliate at the top, with every affiliate they personally recruit placed directly under them (level 1). In turn, if level 1 affiliates recruit new affiliates they are placed on level 2 and so on and so forth.
Using this commissions structure, Shopping Sherlock Global Power Distributors can qualify for a Matching Bonus on each unilevel leg if that leg has a Global or Diamond Power Distributor in it.
Commissions are paid out at 20% of the residual recruitment commissions earnt by the Global or Diamond Power Distributor, as well as any affiliates between the Global or Diamond Power Distributor and the affiliate being paid.
Eg. If you have a Global or Diamond Power Distributor on level 10 of one of your unilevel legs, you will earn 20% on that distributor’s residual recruitment commission earnings, as well as 20% on every affiliate on levels 1-9.
If in the future one of those affiliates on levels 1-9 becomes a Global or Diamond Power Distributor, you will then be restricted to earnings between them and yourself (how many levels counted depends on what level the Global or Diamond Power Distributor is on).
A similar matching bonus is also offered to Global Diamond Distributors. Using the same unilevel commissions structure, a 30% matching bonus is paid on all affiliates found up to the first qualified Global Power Distributor.
If a Global Diamond Distributor also exists in that particular unilevel leg, 10% is also paid out on all affiliates between the Global Power Distributor and the Global Diamond Distributor.
Eg. You are a Global Diamond Distributor and have a Global Power Distributor on level 5 of one of your unilevel legs and a Global Diamond Distributor on level 8.
You will therefore earn a 30% matching bonus on the Global Power Distributor and affiliates on levels 1 to 4. You will also then earn a 10% matching bonus on the affiliates on levels 6 and 7, as well as the Global Diamond Distributor on level 8.
Global Power Distributor Check Match
If a Shopping Sherlock affiliate qualifies as a Global Power Distributor, the company pays out a $2000 bonus to them directly, a $500 bonus to the first qualified Global Power Distributor in their upline and a $200 bonus to the first qualified Diamond Power Distributor in their upline.
Shopping Sherlock Stock Options
The Shopping Sherlock compensation plan makes mention of “Diamond Power Stock Options” but only lists the details as “coming soon”. No further information is provided.
Joining Shopping Sherlock
Membership to Shopping Sherlock comes in three varities:
- Registered Representative ($19.95 a year) – cannot distribute Shopping Sherlock software, can only earn recruitment commissions
- Independent Sherlock Distributor ($239) – able to earn shopping and voucher commissions via distribution (free) of the Shopping Sherlock software to end-users
- Registered Sherlock Distributor ($249) – same as Independent Sherlock Distributor, but also able to earn recruitment commissions and matching bonuses as well
Disappointingly, the Shopping Sherlock compensation plan is pretty much a clone of the failed My Shopping Genie business model.
The most glaring red flag with the compensation plan is the Registered Representative membership option. For $19.95 a year, these members have nothing to sell but premium membership ($239/$249) to the company itself, and they are paid out a commission for each member recruited (grouped in 2s and 4s).
Here’s how Shopping Sherlock describe these recruitment commissions:
Dual Team Pay (DTP) commissions (recruitment commissions outlined in the compensation plan review above) are not based on levels but rather, on the total number of System sales and monthly subscriptions paid.
“System Sales” are in effect premium membership sales ($239/$249) and monthly subscriptions are the fees paid by other Registered Representatives.
With 100% of the commissions being paid out at this membership level, this particular membership option functions as a pyramid scheme.
The other Shopping Sherlock membership levels aren’t much better in that it simply builds on this pyramid scheme foundation.
Within the Shopping Sherlock business opportunity itself, nothing is being bought and sold except membership to the company itself.
The Shopping Sherlock is given away meaning it doesn’t count as a retail sale. Sales are possible through use of the product but these are between Shopping Sherlock and merchant partners, with Shopping Sherlock then splitting these commissions with affiliates.
These sales are supposed to count as retail offerings within Shopping Sherlock but mechanically they do not qualify in that affiliates themselves aren’t able to sell anything other than company membership.
Given this, the primary problem that plagued My Shopping Genie was that the affiliate and voucher commissions offered paid peanuts and were largely ignored. With members able to earn weekly upfront commissions on the recruitment of new affiliates, this is what wound up being the focal point of the business and led to its collapse.
As far as Shopping Sherlock goes, I’m seeing the same compensation plan that is heavily stacked towards the recruitment of new affiliates, with no actual products being sold within the opportunity other than membership to the company itself.
No doubt a small amount of revenue will be generated by voucher deals (affiliate purchases are between end-users and merchants), however the vast majority of revenue going into Shopping Sherlock will be the payment of membership fees.
My Shopping Genie ran into troubles a few years after launch (once the recruiting died down) and after it stopped paying out distributors, died a slow death opportunity wise leaving many affiliates unpaid. The sole reason this happened was that the affiliate deals side of things was so insignificant that it was completely unable to sustain distributor commission payouts once the recruiting dried up.
Unless I’m missing something glaringly obvious here, Shopping Sherlock’s business model is going to take them down the exact same path.