Retention in eCommerce: 3 Revolutionary eCommerce Brands to Watch
In our previous posts, we explored how to keep eCommerce customers coming back and how to build organic loyalty for your brand – and in today’s post, we’re going to take an exploratory deep-dive into three eCommerce brands we think are making waves with their loyalty and retention strategies.
Most brands have strategies in place to build a loyal customer base, and keep consumers coming back – but here, we’ve chosen to profile three brands we think are doing something a little outside of the box…
The membership-only model: Beauty Pie
Beauty Pie is an interestingly unique brand within the beauty space – unquestionably a fresh concept for the market when it launched in 2016, over the last 5 years the brand has grown to develop a cult following and a huge catalogue of products across makeup, skincare, haircare, home fragrance and supplements. Launched by industry veteran Marcia Kilgore – who also launched the brands Soap & Glory, FitFlop, and more – the concept behind Beauty Pie is a disruptive, direct-to-consumer luxury beauty product line, cutting out the middlemen and retailers behind high end products and offering them to the consumer at a fraction of the regular retail price. While buyers’ clubs in general aren’t a new concept, a modern, millennial pink brand making luxury skincare and makeup affordable to everyone definitely was – and with huge discounts, regularly of up to 75% against comparable products from other brands, it’s no wonder beauty lovers lapped it up.
A monthly membership fee
In order to access the member prices at Beauty Pie, customers have to sign up to a paid monthly membership – there are multiple tiers available, with higher membership fees giving access to a larger monthly spending allowance on the site. New signups get an extra bonus allowance to help them get started, and members can also pay to ‘boost’ their allowance if they want more spending power in a particular month – like if there were multiple new products they wanted to try, they ran out of several faves at once, or they were shopping for birthday gifts.
Each month, any unused membership allowance also rolls over – so even if a customer doesn’t spend anything one month, the membership fee doesn’t feel wasted, as it’s enabling a big spending spree – or some amazing gifts for loved ones – down the line. Nice.
This is what makes Beauty Pie work as a business model – they know they have a consistent income each month, on top of their product sales – but it also helps to build loyalty, as customers feel like they are regularly ‘investing’ in the brand, while being part of a special VIP club with exclusive perks. Who doesn’t want to be a VIP?
Customers are reminded of their savings constantly while shopping with Beauty Pie – every product page lists the ‘Regular Price’ (without a membership, or what other retailers sourcing the same products would charge) alongside the membership price to reinforce how the products compare to others on the market. The shopping basket also calculates the savings based on the regular price – which can often be in the £100s, depending on the products purchased. And finally the site keeps a running total of a customer’s individual savings – what’s more feel-good than being told you saved yourself £1000 or more?
However – the site stops short of cheapening the offering, thanks to the glossy brand experience – the minimal branding, editorial product photography and clever tone of voice always makes the customer feel like they’re shopping with a luxury brand. Which brings us neatly to our next point…
It doesn’t feel cheap
Considering the price, you might be forgiven for expecting they’re saving money on the packaging. But the luxury experience does extend to the outer casing of their products: frosted glass jars; quality mister attachments; muslin cloths and mini spatulas included; and all encased in their signature minimal white and millennial pink matte cardboard boxes. The unboxing experience feels luxury too, with the sturdy branded shipping boxes – there’s that millennial pink again – and fancy customised tissue paper feeling every bit as designer as their retailer counterparts.
But it’s not all about the packaging – if the products inside didn’t match up, consumers wouldn’t keep coming back. Beauty Pie are very transparent with their sourcing process – they regularly state that they source their products from the same Swiss, French, Italian, Korean and Japanese laboratories and suppliers that other luxury brands do. Skincare and makeup aficionados are generally pretty knowledgeable about the market, so while Beauty Pie never actually have to say which brands and products their launches are similar to, a quick summary of the product or star ingredients will suffice for many consumers to know what they’re getting at. There are few better feelings in the beauty space than feeling like you’ve gotten essentially a product from Estee Lauder, La Mer, Charlotte Tilbury, or even a Diptyque candle for a fraction of the prices those brands charge.
With a ton of clever ideas in the bag already, Beauty Pie have already placed themselves head and shoulders above their counterparts – but there’s always room for improvements and new ideas. While the review system is clearly well thought-out, with requests for ratings and opinions on specific elements of each product (like finish, quality and value for money), we’d love to see the facility for customers to add their own videos and photos to their reviews.
There’s already a ‘Pie Day’ bonus for memberships, where customers can buy specific products without using their allowance on certain days each month, but the brand could also consider offering other perks – like quarterly allowance bonuses or free upgrades for long-term customers, or early access to pre-orders on popular releases.
Beauty Pie as a brand is always innovating, so we’re interested to see where they go next!
The industry-leading loyalty program: Crafter’s Companion
Starting as an idea in the founder’s university bedroom, Crafter’s Companion have grown to be a giant in the crafting industry, taking their rightful place on the global stage – with dedicated eCommerce stores in the UK, US and EU, as well as several brick and mortar locations across the UK. Stocking a wide range of papercraft, art and sewing supplies, with a portfolio of their own brands alongside a selection of third party lines, they also have their very own Crafter’s TV channel, broadcasting online to inspire and delight their customers. As a client of ours for over 3 years, we’re proud to have supported their growth – and it’s only right we shine a light on them in this post! But we’ve also chosen to feature them here because while loyalty programs are quite common within the crafting industry, the way Crafter’s Companion have chosen to build and implement theirs is a real standout from others in the market.
A fresh take on a loyalty scheme
Most loyalty programs work on the same model – a customer spends with the brand, they collect points on their purchase, and those points are later exchanged for money off a future purchase. This is a simple model to understand, and additional elements can be implemented to push basket value higher – for example, Superdrug use this model and regularly host ‘Triple Points’ days for members, encouraging them to spend more to receive more points back to spend later on. As well as being adopted in the wider market, this model is also used by several of the other art and craft brands in the sector.
However, Crafter’s Companion use a different model for their loyalty scheme. Customers accumulate points on purchases, as before, but these points are banked towards different membership tiers, each with their own perks. Higher tiers offer larger discounts on products, as well as extra perks like free or faster delivery.
Easy to understand
Since the loyalty scheme is a little different to what new customers may be used to, Crafter’s go the extra mile to make it easy to understand the benefits. It’s mentioned widely across the site – with dedicated Club Inspire pages – and new customers are automatically signed up when they make an account, giving them a lucrative 20% discount on their very first order to whet their appetite for the loyalty benefits.
Every time customers log in to their account, their current membership level and the perks they have access to are displayed front and centre – it’s also easy to tell how many points are required for them to reach the next level, and the perks they’ll get when they reach it. Knowing there’s only a few points to go to the next tier might convince customers to add those extra bits to their cart – and knowing they’ll collect points on purchases with Crafter’s makes them more likely to purchase third party products here than to shop on other sites without a loyalty scheme.
The discounts are also cleverly displayed across the site, directly on the product pages – as long as a customer is logged into their account, they’ll see the savings they’re making with their current loyalty status. Having earned the privilege of discounts through previous purchases, Crafter’s customers always feel like they’re getting a great deal!
Since Crafter’s Companion is our client, it would be a bit silly of us to give away all the secrets of where they’re headed next..! But we’ve got lots of ideas and plans for how they can continue to build on this great foundation of loyalty going forward – from add-on elements of the loyalty program to whole new areas of the site. Let’s just say: watch this space…
All you can read for one price – Readly
We’ve been thinking a lot more about digital-only products lately – for more on this, check out our blog post exploring NFTs and how they might revolutionise eCommerce – so for our final example, we’ve gone for something a little unusual. There’s been whispers in the print publishing sector for a long time – are newspapers and magazines on their way out? – but while the format of them might be changing, that doesn’t signal the death of the entire medium. Readly have come up with a refreshingly modern spin on the idea of periodicals, offering access to a huge array of titles for one affordable monthly price. Think of them as the Spotify of magazines.
A subscription that doesn’t feel like a commitment
The traditional magazine subscription model requires you committing to a single title for a period of time – but with Readly, that idea is thrown out the window. For one monthly price of £7.99, you can peruse over 5000 different magazine and newspaper titles via your iPad, smartphone or Kindle – with access to both current and previous issues, and offline reading included.
There’s a reason streaming services like Spotify are so overwhelmingly popular – the freedom to change what you listen to, watch or read is a great feeling. Readly customers can flit between current affairs, politics, health, food, hobbies, home and whatever else they might fancy reading that month – without the risk of subscribing to something they may not enjoy or tire of before the subscription is up. It’s the perfect example of low-risk, high potential reward: and our brains love it. Having that newfound freedom to read whatever they like, whenever they like will soon become a must-have for new customers; how could you go back to committing to one or two magazines a month for the same price as your Readly subscription? It’s a no-brainer to stick around.
Cut out the clutter
Another positive to a digital-only subscription is less clutter – weekly or monthly magazine and newspaper issues soon start to stack up when you subscribe. Some are easy to deal with; a daily newspaper is usually read, then recycled; but others are less clear. Titles containing tutorials or creative inspiration might be ones you want to keep around – and what about magazines with recipes you want to try? It can soon get overwhelming deciding what to keep and where to store it.
For Readly subscribers, knowing you have access to old issues and articles you might want to revisit at any time – without the need to keep them organised at home – is a reassuring position to be in. Of course – keeping all your favourite titles and articles bookmarked is only possible if you keep your subscription active… So as well as a digital newsstand, Readly becomes an instantly-accessible personal catalogue of ideas and inspiration – another reason for subscribers to stay loyal.
With that said – not all readers will prefer a digital-only experience. Indeed, some magazines even brand themselves as a dedicated offline experience for screen time-conscious consumers – titles like Oh Comely are designed to be treasured and consumed physically, with heavyweight, matte pages and plenty of re-readability. Other titles add excitement with physical free gifts – art and craft magazines, collector’s editions and kids’ titles don’t always have the same draw when the cover mount freebie is missing. Some free gifts, of course, do translate better into the digital space – a digital illustration magazine with a free downloadable brush pack is even better when you can tap on the page and download your freebie instantly.
Easy to share
Readly also offers customers the option to share the joy with friends and family – with up to 5 accounts on one subscription, customers can treat their mum, partner, grandma or best friend to access too. With the option to pore over magazines together during afternoon tea or in the lunch room at work diminished over the last year, this seems like a great way to still enjoy your favourite magazines together when you can’t actually be together.
This is a smart move from the brand – it’s common knowledge that most people share their login details for subscription services between friends and family, and rather than trying to police it as some services do, Readly actively encourages it, including the pretty generous benefit right there in the header bar of their homepage. Are you likely to cancel your subscription, even if you’ve not got time to read this month, when you know Grandma Jean looks forward to her issues of Crochet World? Probably not, eh.
What can others take from this?
While we think Readly have pretty much nailed their market offering with their simple but effective strategy, there’s plenty other publishing retailers can learn from – and as we said, a digital-only subscription won’t suit all titles or customers. Print-only retailers could consider offering the digital versions of some or all titles at a lower price than the print copy subscription; this might create an additional revenue stream. The low-commitment angle is an interesting one to explore too – could others offer taster issues, bundle several titles together for a lower overall price, or make switching subscriptions simpler to encourage switching rather than outright cancelling? Plus, the option to share a digital copy of a magazine with a loved one is a great idea, especially in our newly digital-focussed world – that could be something to explore too.
Join our workshop?
We hope this post has given you some food for thought! If this topic has gotten you hungry to improve your customer loyalty and retention, you might be excited to know that we’re hosting an exclusive workshop in partnership with Fresh Relevance for eCommerce merchants around that exact topic. Want an invite? Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to request yours.
Just want to chat about developing your wider eCommerce strategy? Give us a call on +44(0)115 9338784 or email us at email@example.com to get started.