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Rethinking Retention in eCommerce: Building Organic Brand Loyalty

This month here on the JH blog we’re exploring topics around customer loyalty and retention in eCommerce – if you missed it, check out our last post to find out what your repeat customers really want to see from you.

Today we’re taking it a step further and talking about building brand loyalty organically with your customers – a topic that can require a little more creative thinking for eCommerce brands to master than it can for brick and mortar businesses. It’s easier to keep a customer popping into your store if it’s in a convenient location for them – close to their home or on their route home from work – but how can you keep customers coming back to shop with you when you have the entire internet to compete with?

Here are some areas we recommend focusing on…

An end-to-end luxury experience

Without that in-store experience to carry the luxury, high-end brands need to do a bit more work in the online space. From a smooth, beautifully designed UX, automatic shipping information and easy-to-access tracking, down to simple things like customised shipping boxes and tissue paper, make sure every step in the customer journey aligns with that same brand experience. 

Extra little surprises are always an option too – because surprises are good for the brain, and will bring your customers pleasure, whatever they are. Freebies that change monthly, complimentary samples, or even something as simple as a handwritten thank you note can really work wonders. 

Even if you don’t class your brand as part of the luxury space, giving your customers a great experience can still be top of the agenda, and help you stand out from the crowd. 

Make social proof fun

Every company asks for reviews or social media shoutouts post-purchase – so why not make it unexpectedly fun? 

Some retailers choose to gamify social proof, picking a customer to win a prize each month; others simply amp up the engagement, reposting Instagram stories and retweeting customer content. Great feedback or engagement from a cool brand holds pretty high currency in the world of social, and goes a long way to build brand loyalty with the kind of customers who are most likely to shout about your store on social media. Then of course there’s asking for customers to review products – usually best achieved by following up with them after purchase, and doubling down on their reviews being helpful for other customers just like them. If you really believe in your products, don’t be afraid to ask for a review!

Membership-based beauty and lifestyle brand Beauty Pie ask customers to #postyourpie on social media with cute pink sticky notes inside all their parcels, and regularly refers to comments and feedback left in their reviews when developing and announcing new products. This not only provides the brand with plenty of user-generated content, but builds a community of brand advocates as well.

Personalised Recommendations

Even if they really love your brand, most customers don’t have the time or motivation to explore your entire product catalogue. What if they’re missing something they’d love?! 

Make it easy for them by recommending products they might have missed – based on similar product ranges, related or add-on products, or purchases similar customers have made. You can leverage automated purchase follow-up emails, on-page AI product recommendations, triggered emails and many more tactics to connect customers with products they might otherwise have missed.

Early or Exclusive Access

Whether it’s a ‘friends and family’ sale or early access to a brand new product, repeat customers love feeling like a VIP. Every brand and product range is different, so it might take a little creative thinking to settle on the perks that would suit your eCommerce store the best.

Maybe you could implement a tiered loyalty program that rewards customers for regular purchases, offer special birthday discounts to email subscribers, or simply grant them access to a new launch 24 hours before everyone else?

Whatever you choose, the key to its success is communicating. If customers don’t know they need to – for example – sign up to your newsletter and check their emails for access, no matter what the campaign is, you’re going to struggle to find success with it!

Building in Public

Many D2C brands find success baring (almost) all and sharing their ups, downs and thinking processes behind everything that comes out of their warehouse doors. The personal approach to storytelling works best – think CEO-penned long-form newsletters describing upcoming products or new launches; behind-the-scenes Instagram stories sharing the day-to-day life of the brand; maybe even blog or video content exploring your manufacturing processes for full transparency. 

While a lot of this works best in an accessible-to-all space, customers following your journey start to feel a part of it themselves, and take pride in seeing your brand succeed or try exciting new things. Give them a space to connect with other brand advocates – social media channels are ideal – and you’re into a winning formula for building a community around your brand.

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 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 to get started.