Published Apr 17, 2024 ⦁ 15 min read
Referral Program Ideas for Ecommerce Growth

Referral Program Ideas for Ecommerce Growth

Looking to boost your eCommerce store's growth? A well-crafted referral program might be the key. Referral programs leverage your existing customers to bring in new ones, offering rewards like discounts or free products in return. This not only helps spread the word about your brand but does so in a cost-effective manner. Here's what you need to know to get started:

  • Why Referral Programs Work: They tap into the trust between friends and family, making it more likely for new customers to shop with you.
  • Benefits: Increased brand awareness, cost savings on customer acquisition, and the potential for your campaign to go viral.
  • Key Elements: Offer enticing rewards, make sharing easy, and ensure your messaging is customizable.
  • Setting Up: Identify your brand advocates, choose compelling rewards, simplify the sharing process, promote your program, track its performance, and consider using software for automation.
  • Examples: Successful programs like those from Outdoor Voices, Casper, and Lokai show how varied and effective strategies can be.
  • Common Mistakes: Avoid poor incentives, overcomplication, and failing to promote your program adequately.

By focusing on these areas, you can create a referral program that not only brings in new customers but also strengthens the loyalty of your existing base.

Benefits of Implementing Referral Programs

Let's talk about how referral programs can really help your online shop, like Stitchi, grow:

More People Know About Your Brand

When your customers tell their friends and family about your shop because they get something cool in return, it helps more people learn about your products. For example, if someone posts a photo wearing a Stitchi t-shirt they got from a friend, even more people will get to know about Stitchi.

Saves Money

With referral programs, you only give rewards when a new customer actually buys something. This means you're not spending money on ads that might not work. It's a smart way to save money because you only pay when you see results.

Could Go Viral

If you offer something really good for referring friends, your customers might tell lots of people, not just one or two. And those new people might tell others, too. This can make your brand grow really fast. Imagine someone sells Stitchi sweatshirts for a fundraiser and tells everyone to refer friends for more rewards.

Customers Stick Around

People who refer others, and the friends they bring in, often end up buying more over time. This is because the person who referred feels good about helping, and the new customer trusts the recommendation. This means they both might keep coming back to buy more.

Easy to Keep Track

Today, there are special computer programs that make it easy to see how well your referral program is doing. You can check things like how many new customers you're getting and how much you're spending on rewards. This helps you know if your program is working well.

To really make it work, make sure the rewards are something your customers want, make it easy for them to share with friends, tell everyone about your program, and keep an eye on how it's doing.

Key Elements of Successful Ecommerce Referral Programs

To make a referral program that really works for your online shop, you need to focus on a few important things. It's all about getting your current customers to tell others about your stuff in a way that brings in more customers.

Motivating Rewards

You've got to offer rewards that make your customers want to tell their friends. Here are some ideas:

Reward Type Examples
Discounts % off coupons, free shipping
Free Products Popular/best-selling items
Cash Back Money deposited into accounts
Gift Cards For your store or popular retailers

The best rewards are those that make people feel like they're getting a real deal, like discounts, free stuff, or cash.

Easy Sharing

Make it super easy for customers to share about your shop. You can use:

  • Unique referral URLs
  • Referral codes
  • Buttons to share on social media
  • Email templates

Tools like ReferralCandy and Referral Rock can help you set this up and keep track of everything.

Customizable Messages

Let your customers change up the message they send to friends. This way, they can add their own touch. For example, you might see something like:

"Hey {Friend's Name}! I thought you'd love {Brand}, they make {products}. Use my code {ReferralCode} to get {Discount}!"

This makes the message feel more personal and real, which can help get more people interested.

In short, a good referral program gives great rewards, makes sharing easy, and lets customers put their own spin on the message. By doing these things, you can grow your customer base through word-of-mouth.

Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up Your Referral Program

1. Identify Your Advocates

Start by figuring out which customers really like your brand and would be happy to tell others about it. You can find them by:

  • Asking them directly if they'd recommend you
  • Watching who talks about you on social media and in product reviews
  • Noticing who brings new customers to you

These are the people you want to focus on, maybe even asking them to be official supporters of your brand.

2. Choose Compelling Rewards

Pick rewards that your fans will love. Here are some options:

Reward Description Considerations
Discounts % off coupons or free shipping Simple but might not seem like a big deal
Cash Bonuses Money for them Feels valuable but could cost you
Free Products Stuff they'll like Encourages them to buy more later
Charitable Donations Giving to a cause they care about Makes everyone feel good

Rewards should be linked to actions like referring friends or sharing on social media. Start with something easy to get.

3. Implement Seamless Sharing

Make it super easy to share by giving them:

  • Referral links: So you know who sent who
  • Codes: For emails and social media posts
  • Email templates: Ready-to-send messages
  • Social share buttons: For quick sharing

The easier it is, the more people will share.

4. Promote the Program

Tell everyone about your referral program using:

  • Website banners
  • Confirmation emails
  • Posts on social media
  • Notes in packages

Keep your fans updated and celebrate the ones who refer the most.

5. Track Performance

Keep an eye on things like:

  • How many people click on referral links
  • How many of those clicks turn into sales
  • How much money you're making from referrals
  • How much you're spending on rewards
  • How active your referrers are

This helps you see how well your referral program is working compared to other ways you get customers.

6. Automate Processes

Use tools like Referral SaaSquatch and Ambassador to handle the heavy lifting with things like:

  • Signing people up
  • Making personal links and codes
  • Sending out rewards
  • Helping with social media sharing
  • Keeping track of everything

This makes running your referral program a lot easier and helps it reach more people.

Examples of Successful Ecommerce Referral Programs

Outdoor Voices

Outdoor Voices, an activewear brand, has a cool way to get more customers. They give a $25 discount to both the person who tells a friend and the friend who buys something for the first time.

This approach is great because both people get something good out of it, making them more likely to share. It's a simple plan but it's worked well, helping Outdoor Voices get more customers fast.

Key Takeaways:

  • Both people get a $25 discount, making everyone happy
  • Easy to understand and feels like a good deal
  • Helped the brand grow quickly by getting more customers



Casper, a company that sells mattresses online, has a special way of rewarding people who tell their friends about them. If a new customer comes in through a referral, they get a $50 discount. The person who made the referral gets a $50 credit for their next buy.

This setup is smart because it helps Casper keep their old customers coming back and gets new ones at the same time. It's a win-win for everyone.

Key Takeaways:

  • Different rewards for new and old customers
  • Keeps old customers happy and brings in new ones
  • The credit system makes sure customers stay loyal



Lokai sells jewelry and really values their customers telling friends about them. They offer a 20% discount on bracelet packs for every friend that buys something with their referral code.

This 20% off is just enough to get people to share without losing too much money. Lokai's referral program is easy to follow and has helped them build a strong group of loyal customers.

Key Takeaways:

  • A straightforward 20% off for referrals
  • Good balance of spending a little to get a lot back
  • Built a close community around the brand

Innovative Referral Program Ideas

Referral programs are a smart way to get your current customers to tell others about your shop. Using Stitchi's platform to create custom stuff, you can come up with cool ways to get more people talking about your brand.

Tiered Rewards

Think about giving better rewards the more people someone refers. Here's a simple way to do it:

  • Bronze Tier: 10% off your next order if you refer 1-2 friends
  • Silver Tier: 20% off and free shipping for referring 3-4 friends
  • Gold Tier: 30% off and a free item for referring 5 or more friends

This setup makes it fun for customers to keep referring more people because they get better deals as they go. Stitchi can help track these referrals easily, so customers can see how close they are to the next reward.

Social Media Contests

Holding contests on social media is a fun way to get people excited about sharing your referral link. You could:

  • Give an entry into a contest for sharing your link
  • Offer more chances to win if friends use your link
  • Have monthly contests for big prizes

Spread the word on your social media and encourage your customers to share for more chances to win. This can help your brand reach a lot of people fast.

Stitchi makes it easy for customers to share their links and keep track of their contest entries with built-in social media buttons.

Product Giveaways

Offering free or special items is a great way to get people interested in referring others. With Stitchi, you can make unique items like:

  • Limited-edition shirts or hats
  • Early access to new products
  • Custom items with their name

Giving away items that are unique and personal can turn your customers into big fans of your brand. Stitchi's system for making and sending these items worldwide makes it hassle-free.

The key is to choose freebies that your customers will really want and that show off what's cool about your brand. This way, happy customers become loyal supporters.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When you start a referral program, you want it to help your business grow. But sometimes, things don’t go as planned. Here’s what to watch out for:

Offering Poor Incentives

Your rewards need to be good enough to get your customers excited about telling their friends. Don't go for weak rewards that nobody really wants. Think about offering discounts, free stuff, or maybe even gift cards.

Overcomplicating the Program

Making your program too complicated can turn people off. Stick to a simple plan where it’s easy to understand what you get. If you’re doing levels of rewards, make sure it’s clear how to move up and what you’ll get.

Cluttering the Referral Page

The page where people go to share your store should be easy to use. It should quickly tell them what they need to do and why it’s a good idea.

Failing to Promote

Don’t just set it and forget it. You need to let people know about your program. Use emails, your website, and social media to spread the word.

Using a DIY Approach

Handling everything on your own can be tough. There are referral software programs out there that can help you keep track of who’s referring who and make sure the right people get their rewards.

Neglecting Refinements

Always be checking to see how your program is doing. If something’s not working, try changing up the rewards or how you talk about the program. Keep testing to see what works best.

Avoiding these mistakes means keeping things simple, making sure your rewards are tempting, talking about your program a lot, using software to help manage things, and always looking for ways to make it better. If you run into problems, don’t be afraid to change things up. Paying attention and being willing to adjust can make your referral program a big success.


Referral programs are a great way for online stores to get new customers and sell more. They work by giving your current customers a reason to tell their friends about your store. This way, you can reach more people without spending a lot on ads.

Here's what you need to remember:

  • Referral programs build trust. When a friend tells you about a good store, you're more likely to check it out and buy something.
  • They spread the word about your brand. Happy customers tell their friends, helping you reach new people.
  • They're cost-effective and easy to keep an eye on. You only give rewards when a new customer buys something. You can easily see how much traffic and sales are coming from referrals.

To make a referral program that works:

  • Give rewards that get people excited, like discounts, free stuff, or money back.
  • Make it easy for people to share your store with friends, using links or codes.
  • Talk about your program a lot, on your website, in emails, on social media, and in packages.
  • Use referral software to track everything automatically and handle giving out rewards.

With the right approach and tools, referral marketing can be a big help for online stores. It's all about getting your customers to help spread the word.

How do I set up an eCommerce referral program?

To start a referral program for your online shop, follow these steps:

  • Know your customers - Figure out who your best customers are. These are the folks likely to tell their friends about you. Offer them something nice for doing so.
  • Choose your rewards - Decide what you'll give people for referring others. This could be things like discounts, not charging for shipping, or even free stuff. You want to make sure it's something that gets them excited.
  • Make sharing easy - Set up special emails and web pages with a unique link that customers can easily send to their friends.
  • Link it to your shop - Use software that connects your referral program directly to your online store. This way, when someone refers a friend, the reward happens automatically.
  • Tell everyone - Let people know about your referral program through emails, social media, and on your website. Keep talking about it.
  • Check how it's doing - Use software to see how well your referral program is working. If needed, change things up to make it better.

What is the most successful customer referral program?

referral program

Some great examples of referral programs are:

  • Google - Offers store credits for successful referrals
  • Vitality - Rewards for getting friends to join their health program
  • Kaizen - Expanded their community worldwide through referrals
  • Kwiff - Gives a free bet to both the person referring and the new customer
  • Dropbox - Provides extra storage space for both parties when a new user signs up
  • Uber - Gives rewards to customers who bring in new users

How can eCommerce businesses use customer referrals to increase sales?

Online stores can boost sales by offering cool referral rewards like:

  • Not charging for shipping
  • Discounts on the next purchase
  • Free samples
  • Early access to sales
  • Chances to win prizes
  • Donating to charity in the customer's name

The trick is to pick rewards that make your customers want to tell their friends about you.

What is a good referral rate for eCommerce?

A good target is for 2-5% of your customers to refer others. So, if you have 1,000 customers, you'd want 20-50 of them to make referrals. The best way to improve this number is to keep an eye on your referral program and try out different rewards to see what works best.

Related posts