shopify website design header

Every Saturday morning, I visit the same bakery. I get a takeaway coffee and a baguette. Sometimes, if I feel like I’ve earned it, a dessert too. I go there because I know what I’m going to get, and I know I’m never going to be disappointed, even if I’m forced to settle for my second choice of baguette.

My customer loyalty to this bakery cannot be broken. Sometimes I’ll wait in line for 20 minutes but I’m willing to do that because this place is great at what it does.

Whether it’s your local coffee spot, retail store, or restaurant, we’ve all got places we keep coming back to. They’ve captured our brand loyalty, and that’s no easy task in today’s competitive business landscape.

This principle doesn’t just ring true for brick and mortar stores. It’s the same for online retailers. Customers develop deep attachments to eCommerce stores that tick all the boxes. A host of factors like customer service, price, availability, and loyalty programs keep us coming back for more.

Websites such as ASOS and Amazon set the bar high with fast and free shipping, simple returns procedures, and ‘try before you buy’ services that make them stand out from the rest. In return, they’re rewarded with a high percentage of repeat customers.

Building brand loyalty and prioritising customer retention will do more for your business than make you feel good or look like an industry leader. You’ll see impressive returns on investment and more money in your bank account.

In this article, we’re going to show you exactly why you need to pursue brand loyalty, how you can achieve it with your Shopify store, and the rewards you can expect to see from your hard work.

Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

What’s The Problem With Not Building Customer Loyalty?

There’s a number of problems that stem from not capturing customer loyalty.

  • It costs considerably more to attract new customers than it does to retain existing customers.

customer loyalty metrics

  • You’ve invested your hard-earned money on a new Shopify website. As a smart business owner, you shouldn’t let your investment sit idle. You need to start generating conversions and a return on investment (ROI).
  • You’re likely spending money on marketing yet getting poor results. Your website might not be designed to convert, or the strategies you’re implementing aren’t sophisticated enough yet.
  • You’re not maximising the potential of your Shopify store. It’s a great CMS and its popularity speaks to what it can offer. Why not start using it to drive business revenue not just house products on a page?

Why does this matter so much? Without good customer loyalty and retention strategies in place, you’ll fail to see the ROI and revenue stream you can easily achieve. In the long run, this will be at the detriment to your cash flow and can potentially harm your business’s ability to remain cash solvent.

How To Achieve Brand Loyalty And Returning Customers With Shopify

Let’s look at the different ways in which your Shopify store can drive brand loyalty and customer retention.

Leverage Shopify Apps

Shopify has a range of apps that operate like the apps on your phone, all designed to extend your store’s functionality. They help minimise leg work and let you generate results quickly and effectively.

Many apps are intertwined with the other strategies that we’ll cover later. But it is important to look at them individually to see what they can offer your Shopify store.

Some of the most popular apps and highest rated currently on rotation in your favourite Shopify websites are as follows:

  • Growave is an all-in-one marketing platform, which offers reward and loyalty programs, wishlists, reviews, and allows businesses to connect with customers.
  • Smile is widely revered as the most popular and trusted loyalty program for Shopify stores, with 30,000 stores currently using the app. It allows you to build ‘refer a friend’ programs, point programs, and VIP programs. It also has some fantastic one-click integrations with services like MailChimp to implement more advanced marketing and sales strategies.
  • HelpCenter by Vertex LV allows you to create a fast and easy way for customers to resolve their problems. After all, 81% of all customer prefer using online self-service over talking to a live representative.
  • AfterShip Returns Center makes returns easier in just a few quick clicks. At least 30% of all products ordered online are returned, but 92% of customers will buy from you again if you make returns easy.
  • Frequently Bought Together – makes the process of cross-selling simple by grouping products of a similar type together to increase product visibility and average customer order value to take advantage of the fact that upsells and cross-promotion make up approximately 10 – 30% of eCommerce revenue.

Taking advantage of these apps will make your life easier and increase the offering your online store provides to customers, while saving you considerable time and money compared with creating services like these from scratch.

Some of these apps can even provide insights into exactly how many orders, and how much revenue, you’ve made from customers using them. This means you can work out the exact ROI you are generating from each app.

Loyalty Programs

We’re all familiar with loyalty programs, and we’ve likely all signed up for at least one at some point. You might even be a serial loyalty program subscriber with a wallet full of plastic cards and an inbox full of offers and promotions.

Loyalty programs are still around for a reason – they work. They have proven themselves time and again as one of the most effective means of generating revenue and inspiring customer loyalty both offline and on.

Loyalty programs can present themselves in a number of ways:

  • Point Systems – every purchase enables customers to acquire points that eventually translate to some form of reward.
tesco pay website

Tesco Pay

  • Spend Programs – customers earn loyalty credits based on the amount they spend at a business.
fly buys website


  • Paid Programs – customers pay a monthly or annual fee to join a VIP program in which they get access to special discounts or unique opportunities.
  • Game Programs – customers play a game to access offers and in turn are encouraged to make repeat purchases.

EL loyalty program

  • Partnered Programs – businesses partner together to offer joint benefits to a shared customer demographic.
  • Value Programs – businesses connect to customers on a deeper level by choosing to offer them value based on what means more to them. An example might be taking a portion of a sale and donating it towards a charity.
The Body Shop website

The Body Shop

While loyalty programs aren’t new, there’s plenty of innovative ways to use them to generate new benefits from and for your customer base. Consider offering more than generic discounts – what else can you provide that will resonate with your customers? What common interests do you share with them? How can you create a loyalty program that participating in becomes an actual experience for them?

Make your reward programs enticing, and they’ll reward you 10 times over.

Help Desks and Live Chat

Customer service plays a big part in our impressions of a brand and whether we will buy from them again. A great way to deliver quality customer service fast is to incorporate help desk software as part of your Shopify store.

More than 40% of customers expect their emails answered within 6 hours. Most businesses,  however, fall short of these demands with the average response time greater than 12 hours.

Help desks can alleviate the amount of time you have to personally answer every individual question, while continuing to create personal connections and lasting relationships.

There are dozens of options out there –  we’ve already highlighted one above. While it might be daunting to choose a platform and package right for your business, you can always lean on a specialist Shopify agency to help you uncover the most suitable option for your store.

Live chat systems might be another service for your Shopify site. These provide a real-time solution for customer problems and questions.

Think about the following two scenarios that might play out for an online customer who wants to know whether a pair of pants has any stretch them.

Scenario 1. They submit a contact form, then leave the website and continue with their lives. They eventually receive an email reply a few days later, but by then the urge to buy the pants has gone, as has the sale.

Scenario 2. They open the live chat box at the bottom of the website, ask about the pant’s stretch levels, and get an immediate, friendly response. They then add the product to cart and checkout just a few moments later. The money is in your pocket.

Which scenario makes the most financial sense?

Having a question answered right there and then mimics the level of service your customer would typically receive in a brick and mortar store. Having all hands-on deck to troubleshoot customer queries will boost your customer service and help you increase customer loyalty and the likelihood of immediate sales.

Furthermore, easily integrated apps such as Tidio Live Chat, Shopify Chat, and others make the monitoring and managing of conversations easy, and for the most part, free.

Going the extra mile to deliver exceptional customer service in an ultra-competitive eCommerce landscape can help you stand out from your competitors. Introducing the right user experience can convert your one-time shopper into a repeat customer, paving the way for a friendly, loyal, and lasting relationship with your brand.

Abandoned Cart Emails and Marketing

Did you leave something behind?

You’ve probably received an email or seen ad messaging like this before. Perhaps you got distracted or were called away from completing an online purchase. Or maybe you were just on the fence about committing fully to pressing that ‘checkout’ button.

Simple questions like this are often enough to reengage a customer. Just reminding them of what they are missing out on may be enough to lure them back in and buy from you. They realise how great you are and become a lifetime customer.

If you are not already doing this, Shopify makes it easy for you to get started. The platform gives you an option to set up a basic email to customers who have left something in their cart and left your online store.

When you’re ready to take things further, you can build out an email sequence to deliver better results. ECommerce customers who receive multiple abandoned cart emails are 2.4 times more likely to complete a purchase than those who get only one follow up email.

You can integrate email marketing platforms such as MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, Active Campaign, Vision6, or similar with Shopify. Each email should have a different objective:

  1. Create product scarcity and a sense of urgency – “There’s only 1 left in stock…don’t miss out!”
  2. Educate the customer about the product or brand – “We’re committed to sustainability…”
  3. Introduce an exclusive offer to help get them over the line – “Get 10% off your next order!”

If you did the work to get the customer to your website, don’t just let them look and leave. Do everything you can to get them to convert and increase your chances of inspiring brand loyalty.

‘Refer A Friend’ Strategy

How often do you go to your friends for recommendations on movies, TV shows, outfits or restaurants? Studies consistently show people are more likely to trust the opinion of family and friends more than advertisements and sales pitches that are professionally crafted.

Referrals make up a large portion of our purchases. Without them, we wouldn’t discover many of the great businesses out there. Online ‘Refer a friend’ strategies are essentially a structured way to apply the same ethos and continue generating referral business.

They encourage existing customers to refer new customers by offering both parties an incentive. Obviously, organic referrals are great, but this a fantastic and easy way to fast track referrals and ensure they come in consistently.

A company who does this well is Uber Eats. Every user gets a unique code to get $10 off their first order when they share the code with a friend. Unfortunately, by now most of your friends have already made their first Uber Eats order so getting that referral benefit is considerably harder!

Your store’s ‘refer a friend’ strategy can be distinct in any number of different ways. Perhaps you could give an influencer a promo code to share across their platforms. Even giving each website customers their own referral code to share with friends and family, offering each a discount, can considerably boost your revenue. The most important element is just making the strategy easy for people to use.

Recent research suggests people are 4x more likely to make a purchase based on referrals.

Not only are you building a new audience with a referral, you’re also encouraging existing customers to buy more by showing that you value their influence.

Store Appearance and User Experience

How website visitors see and act on your Shopify store can have a profound impact on initial and repeat business.

Put some effort into what your Shopify store looks like. Customers will keep coming back to your site if its design is aesthetically pleasing, like customers keep coming back to brick and mortar stores for their style.

Your eCommerce store needs to have online “curb appeal” to generate a unique shopping experience and drum up some brand loyalty.

While you’re working on your Shopify site’s appearance you also need to take consideration into its user experience. User experience is central to conversion rate optimisation and will help you build customer loyalty.

Customers not only need things to look nice, they also expect elements to be intuitive. At its simplest form, the easier it is to navigate to a product and buy it, the more likely you are to secure a sale and keep customers coming back.

Remember that your customers are visiting your Shopify site from different devices and browsers. Prioritise appearance and user experience across all of them and you will undoubtedly see an increase in customer retention and your ROI.

See how an expert Shopify web design agency like Living Online can create a high converting website that showcases your brand in the best possible light.

Remarketing Tactics

Many online advertising platforms let you target past website visitors, encouraging them to return to your site and make a purchase. Advanced features also mean you can use more sophisticated remarketing strategies, such as Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) and dynamic remarketing, each offering unique benefits to your business.

RLSA is relatively new Google feature that allows you to show search ads to users who have previously visited your site. You can tailor bids, ad messaging, and ad call to actions to these visitors when they’re searching on Google for specific products, services, or solutions.

This feature lets you tailor your search campaigns to target more qualified valuable users already aware of your website. When used well, RLSAs can result in more efficient use of ad spend, better conversion rates, and ultimately, improved ROI.

They can also be an effective means to encourage repeated visits to your site from people who have interacted with it already. Each time they search for something that you stock, you’ll come up as an option. They will be able to identify your store as the one place they need to go.

Dynamic remarketing is another introduction in recent years.

Very few customers commit to a purchase on their first visit. In fact, it takes an average of 3.2 sessions before a new website visitor will buy from you. Dynamic remarketing across Google, or social platforms like Facebook and Instagram, has a visual element designed to lure them back.

Dynamic remarketing campaigns target users who have visited your Shopify site at least once, and are based on their interaction with your website. For example, if someone spends time browsing Nike footwear you can continue to show them ads for Nike. They even go so far as to show the exact products that a user looks at. Teamed with messaging around scarcity and FOMO (fear of missing out), this is an incredibly powerful tactic to increase sales. Thanks to integrations between Shopify and advertising platforms, you can automate them, saving you time and resources.

When it comes to retaining customers and encouraging repeat purchases, remarketing can be used in several other ways. For example, you can create automatic reminder campaigns to remarket to past website customers who haven’t made a purchase in the last 60 days. You can include a unique incentive and personalised messaging. This enables you to stay top of mind AND can provide regular increase in sales.

Customising Shopify

Authenticity and being yourself goes a long way. Many businesses are afraid to do so, while others can build cult-like followings by doing exactly that.

Price will always be a mitigating factor for most new customers. You may, however, be able to get around that barrier to entry if you can make customers fall in love with you and what you do. Once they’re in love, it’s highly likely you’ll have a customer for life.

Shopify is highly customisable. You can showcase who you are and what makes you different from the rest. Everything from fonts, menu labels, colour schemes, item descriptions, and so much more can uniquely reflect your brand.

Take British clothing brand Palace Skateboards, for example.

Every product is given a unique description that’s humorous and entices you to buy it. The diction and slang are closely tied to the brand so when you see it, you know it’s their own.

palace skateboards

The ‘Terms and Conditions’ section on the website is labelled ‘Boring Stuff’ and the brand is aware of their demographics. Consequently, they’ve chosen to be unapologetically themselves and people gravitate towards that – reflective of the 1.6 million Instagram followers.

Technically, the products they sell are much the same as that of hundreds of thousands of other businesses. But through the clever creation of a strong brand personality reflected in every aspect of their eCommerce website experience, they have gone from being “just another clothing store” to a brand with an incredibly loyal customer base. This provides huge financial value to this company.

While it may not be necessary or relevant for you to go to these extreme lengths, your Shopify store should give website visitors and customers a good understanding of who you are. And with a host of customisable options at your disposal, there’s no reason not to take advantage and build brand loyalty through these customisations. The more you can stand out, in a positive way, the more likely it is somebody will remember you and return when they want to make another purchase.

Social Media Strategy

Social media provides a huge opportunity to grow loyalty and customer retention. And with over 3.8 billion people actively using it, your business can’t afford not to have a social media presence.

When it comes to your social media strategy, there are two paths to consider – organic and paid. But just like they say in the Old El Paso ad, “why don’t we have both?”

We’ll begin with organic. You need to create a presence by curating your content and posting consistently. Your customers will find you organically if you’re good at what you do and provide them with a reason to stay up to date with your company across the different social platforms.

If they have begun following you, it’s likely they have been a customer at some point or will be in the future. Rally behind people and support those who support you; the worst thing you can do is be silent. Remain active and don’t be afraid to communicate and collaborate to extend your reach.

It might take some time to find your voice but once you have, it can be hugely decisive in helping you build a community that it turn becomes a loyal customer base.

While you’re working on your organic strategy you can begin planning your paid one, and intertwine both of them.

As we’ve mentioned you can build strategic campaigns to retarget people who have visited your website, had items in their cart or even purchased from you before. All these techniques can help keep your brand front of mind and make sure customers keep coming back to you.

Instead of just trying to promote individual products, why not use your paid ads to promote your story or share customer feedback instead? Sometimes it’s the story behind a brand or seeing other positive testimonials that’s enough to grab our attention and get us in the door.

The important thing to remember is that building brand loyalty with social media is an ongoing process, it’s not set and forget. Constant experimentation and refining will allow you to work out what resonates the best with your audience, while staying true to your brand identity.

Email Marketing Automation

Email marketing automation is another powerful tool to build brand loyalty and keep customers coming back.

With $38 of revenue for every dollar invested, email marketing generally has the highest ROI compared with most other commonly used marketing channels. If you’re not currently using it we suggest you keep reading.

As the name suggests, email marketing automation is a way in which you can set up a series of emails to be automatically delivered to customers based on actions they take on your website. They encourage repeat purchases and boost customer lifetime value.

Automation can be set up for every type of customer or product, including:

  • New customers
    • Welcome to the club emails
    • New arrivals
    • Product reviews
    • Promotions
  • Repeat customers
    • Checking in emails
    • Personalised recommendations
    • Incentives to purchase again if their loyalty seems to be waning

You can also build trust by instantly emailing customers a copy of their receipt so they know they successfully placed their order.

When starting your email marketing journey, you want to ensure the emails you send are engaging and deliver value. If they don’t, you’ll notice ever declining open rates and unsubscribes. Spamming your audience constantly with emails that don’t derive value will only detract from your customer loyalty and can potentially set your further back then when you started.

Customer Reviews

Customer reviews should also be central to your customer loyalty and retention strategies. They not only validate your business or a product, they also add legitimacy to what you’re doing.

With 97% of people claiming to have read reviews for local businesses and 90% of people claiming that positive reviews have influenced their purchasing decision, you really can’t avoid not capturing them.

Reviews can live any number of places, from Google and Facebook to online directories. Develop a strategy to generate more reviews to promote your business across these platforms, and once you’ve begun to collect a few, use integration apps from the Shopify store to parade these on your website.

You should prioritise collecting reviews for the individual products that you sell on your Shopify website. Product reviews allow customers to share their experiences to help new customers find the right product for them. This can have sensational flow-on effects with decreased customer returns and an improved bottom-line.

There’s any number of independent apps that can help you create product reviews on your website, or you can opt for the free ‘Product Reviews’ by Shopify app.

Don’t be afraid of negative customer reviews. You can use them to bolster customer retention by addressing the pain points your customers have. Negative reviews tell you why your customers are not shopping with you anymore or not choosing to buy a specific product. Address what you see and communicate with these customers so that you can attempt to turn things around. If you’re unsuccessful, you’ll be well equipped to navigate these issues and hopefully prevent them from occurring for your future customers.

What Are The Benefits Of Implementing These Strategies?

Beyond increasing your brand loyalty and customer retention, implementing these strategies can bring many benefits to your brand:

  • Build long-lasting relationships with your customers, and increasing customer lifetime value.
  • It’s less expensive to reengage existing customers rather than attract new ones.
    • Save on marketing spend.
    • Better for your ROI.
  • Create price insensitivity – customers are more willing to spend because they are loyal to your brand, giving you increased average order value, and more revenue.
  • See greater ROI – stop trying to attract new customers all the time and work with what you have.
  • Increase direct referrals – referral business is good business. Spread the word with tactics designed to increase word of mouth referrals.
  • Get customers to listen to you – become the voice of authority in what you do and stand out from the rest.
  • Increased predictability to forecast cash flow – have greater oversight as to what you can expect in the future and be well equipped to manage it.
  • Gather valuable data about your customers – improve your marketing strategies and target the right your customers.
  • Attract new customers – while you prioritising repeat customers, you’re going to attract some new customers too.
  • Make more money – this is the name of the game and that’s certainly what you’re going to be able to do with these strategies.


Customer loyalty and retention is of utmost importance to the success and longevity of your business. Even though your most loyal customers will only make up 20% of your audience, they will provide up to 80% of your revenue.

By not choosing to pursue strategies that generate customer loyalty, you potentially risk losing out on a huge revenue stream. You will also notice a minimal ROI on your existing or new Shopify store and marketing spend. Constantly having to fill your sales funnel with new customers is a far more expensive exercise than working with what you have.

Instead, you can implement any or all the following:

  • Use Shopify apps designed to build customer loyalty
  • Build a customer loyalty program
  • Embrace the customisable options within your Shopify store
  • Deploy a refer a friend program
  • Remarket to previous site visitors
  • Set up abandoned cart email sequences
  • Develop organic and paid social media strategies
  • Automate your email marketing

In return, expect to see customers become part of your loyal following who will continue to buy from your Shopify site.

If you’re ready to get serious about your Shopify store and more importantly your business model, talk to our team of Shopify specialists today. Not only are we well versed in eCommerce marketing, but we have the track record to prove it – we’ve helped dozens of our clients clearly define their brand and build long-lasting, profitable relationships with their customers.

Don’t let your Shopify store operate like a revolving door, start attracting customers for life.

Let’s talk – chat to us now.