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How to grow an ecommerce business as a Shopify Founder

How to grow an ecommerce business without spending a fortune on acquisition or eroding profit margins with discounts. This is the question that keeps many a Shopify founder awake at night. 

How to grow an ecommerce brand while wearing many hats and being pulled in lots of different directions is another question that could cause you to lose sleep. 

We’re here to help. We believe that if you can carve out just a little bit of time to connect with your customers in your role as Founder, then you could drive customer loyalty and lifetime value through the roof. 

Let us explain: 

  • why founder-led companies typically rise through the ranks when it comes to customer loyalty, and,
  • how to grow an ecommerce business by putting your stamp on your Shopify store’s loyalty program and bringing your brand to life

The rise of the founder-led Shopify store

Before we get into the how, let’s start with why. Why are founder-led businesses so often the ones that win significant customer loyalty? According to James Allen, head of Bain and Company’s Strategy practice, this is down to a founder’s mentality and a commitment to upend the status quo

He says “When a great company starts, it is at war against the industry in which it competes on behalf of either underserved customers or new customers that nobody is serving correctly.”

Recent research from Zeno Group also showed that 70% of Gen Z and Millennials believe that brands should have a purpose they believe in, and 81% believe that purpose should be championed by a CEO, founder, or owner. 

So, today’s shoppers care what the brands they buy from stand for, and they believe that sense of purpose should be embodied by the person behind the brand. Therefore, the question ‘how to grow an ecommerce brand’ is intrinsically linked to the reasons why you started that business in the first place.

Luckily, there are multiple ways in which your loyalty program can help you tell your story, bring your brand purpose to life, and emotionally connect with more of your customers. 

Let’s look at how to do this efficiently. In this article, we’re going to explore how to grow an ecommerce business by combining your position as founder with your loyalty program, driving greater retention and lifetime value from your customer base. We’ll look at: 

  • Using loyalty program emails to connect with customers
  • Tailoring rewards so that they tell your brand story
  • Connecting with loyal customers on a personal level 

Let’s get started! 

Using loyalty program emails to connect with customers 

Emails are a large part of the answer to the question of how to build an ecommerce brand. We email customers to tell them about new products or special offers, we email them when they purchase to confirm and say thank you, and we email them post-purchase to keep them updated and check everything is ok. 

These emails are often transactional, and they could almost always be working harder than they are. Why not use your emails to tell more of your story? Your loyalty program emails and welcome flows provide a perfect environment to introduce yourself as a founder, tell the story of your store and your products, and kickstart a deeper connection with that new customer or loyalty program member. 

For example, JLab Audio includes a message from their CEO within their loyalty program welcome emails, ensuring that from the get-go, everybody knows what they believe in, and why they exist as a brand. This doesn’t take too long to write, and it doesn’t take up too much space, but it could capture attention and help to secure another purchase.

JLab Audio rewards program

You could even take this approach one step further, and automate thank you emails from the founder that go to every customer who makes a purchase or joins the loyalty program. 

Customers will start to recognize your name and begin putting a face to your brand, increasing the likelihood of repeat purchases in the future thanks to an increased level of authenticity and trust. 

Tailoring your rewards to tell your story

Loyalty program rewards may not seem the obvious solution when you’re thinking about how to grow an ecommerce business. There are standard rewards that we all associate with loyalty programs – we’re thinking money off vouchers, or percentage discounts for example. However, you can do so much more brand-building than that! 

The most innovative Shopify stores out there are using their loyalty rewards to grow their ecommerce brands by reiterating their brand story and doubling down on emotional customer connections. 

For example, cat and dog food brand, Edgard and Cooper offer their loyalty program members the opportunity to exchange their loyalty points for a doggy dinner at a dog shelter – a perk that resonates with dog lovers. 

Edgard and Cooper cat and dog food

Natural, food-grown supplements brand, Wild Nutrition offers their program members the chance to exchange loyalty points for charitable rewards. This could be planting trees in the Amazon or Rwanda, or donating to Ocean Generation UK. 

Wild Nutrition rewards program

These rewards relate to the causes that the founders of these brands care about the most. They’re also intrinsically linked to the reasons why those founders created the brands in the first place. 

By building them into the loyalty program, they are bringing their brand stories to life, and showing their authenticity as founder-led Shopify stores.

Connecting with customers on a personal level 

One of the things we love most here at LoyaltyLion is seeing the growth of independent ecommerce brands that the Shopify ecosystem has enabled. We love hearing the stories – from the Yak campervan that the Lucy and Yak clothing brand originates from, to another Lucy, the 14-year-old Bugg (Pug + Boston Terier) that pet brand Luy and Co. is named after. 

However, what we love to see most,  is founders using their loyalty program to connect with – and sometimes even meet – their customers. There are so many ways to achieve this, from simple online experiences right through to in-store and in-person events. 

Take jewelry brand, Astrid and Miyu for example. Their founder, Connie Nam, is also the host of their Unboxed podcast – a regular series that interviews both other Astrid and Miyu employees, and ecommerce stars from other brands, asking them questions about how to grow an ecommerce business. The podcast provides a fantastic opportunity for Connie to regularly connect with loyalty program members and wider customers, and build an authentic relationship with Astrid and Miyu shoppers. 

Unboxed with Connie Nam

Taking this one step further, let’s look at founder-led brands that connect with their customers and loyalty program members in person. For example, both menswear brand, Percival Clothing and beauty brand The Inkey List offer their top-tier loyalty program members the chance to attend exclusive events that non-members can’t access. 

However, The Inkey List took this one step further, hosting an exclusive event for their loyalty community, where top-tier loyalty program members could meet their co-founder Collette. 

The Inkey List

Members were given the opportunity to hear her story and ask her their questions. This was a hugely popular experiential reward that will pay dividends in customer loyalty for a long time to come.  

Key takeaways for founders of Shopify stores

So, if you’re wondering what you can do to grow an ecommerce business in your role as founder, these are the key takeaways. consumers love to meet the people behind brands and hear their stories. They also love to know that they’re buying from authentic brands, that have a purpose. 

As the founder of a Shopify store, you have the opportunity to bring that purpose to life and connect with customers in a way that nobody else can. In a way that secures real customer loyalty, and drives repeat purchases for all the right reasons. You can also do this efficiently and without investing too much time via your loyalty program. 

Are you a founder wondering how to grow an ecommerce business by using a loyalty program to share your brand story and purpose further afield? We’d love to chat – you can book a time that works for you here.

About the author

Fiona Stevens

Fiona Stevens is the Head of Marketing at LoyaltyLion, a data-driven loyalty and engagement platform for fast-growth ecommerce merchants. LoyaltyLion helps thousands of retailers worldwide to build fully customized loyalty programs, proven to increase customer engagement, retention and spend. Fiona has almost 15 years experience in Marketing, having worked in-house and agency side across functions including PR, SEO and content. She has specialized in loyalty for retail and ecommerce brands for the past eight years.

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