Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

10 Of The Best Ecommerce Business Examples To Learn From

So you’re looking to grow your ecommerce business, huh?

What better way than to learn from those who’ve already done it?

After all, there is a lot that goes into running an online store. From building an e-commerce website to improving your conversion rate, from managing your social media accounts to learning how to rank higher on any given search engine…

…running a successful online shop takes a lot of effort and strategy.

Luckily, you don’t have to sort through all of it on your own.

Why not?

Because thousands of e-commerce companies have already figured out all of the hard stuff for you. All you have to do is take a peek at their strategies and see what you can apply to your own e-commerce business.

This is true for an online store that sells clothing to an online shop that simply sells e-commerce software (*ahem*, ReferralCandy).

So we rounded up some of our favorite online retailers that are killing it in the e-commerce market so that you can improve your own online business right away.

Here are some of our favorite e-commerce examples that you can learn from.

The 10 Best Ecommerce Business Examples To Learn From

1. Warby Parker – Online eyeglasses without the markup

When it comes to making mundane products and services exciting, Warby Parker knows exactly what to do. Their entire business model depends on their unconventional marketing strategy, which includes great storytelling and quirky branding.

By creating content that not only poked fun at their brand and product but also involved their audience, they were able to score tons of user-generated content for their Instagram feed as well as lasting customer loyalty.warby parker ecommerce business examples - e-commerce business examples success stories

They also focus a lot on the user experience, making the entire e-commerce transaction a joy from start to finish. Warby Parker, after all, was started because the founders found it impossible to buy a fashionable, affordable pair of glasses online.

With their quirky brand, excellent customer service, and innovative marketing strategy, they have won the number one spot on our list of e-commerce examples.

Learn more about Warby Parker’s storytelling techniques that built the brand

2. Bonobos – Better-fitting, better-looking men’s pants

One of the toughest aspects of running a successful e-commerce business is that you are always competing with online monsters like Amazon and eBay.

In some cases, you simply cannot provide your products and services at the same low-cost as they can.

So what do you do, instead?

Take a page out of Bonobos’ business model book and create a proprietary-driven marketing strategy.

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Instead of competing with these massive e-commerce companies (with even bigger budgets), focus on creating a unique customer experience for your target audience. Provide products and services that are super specific to a narrow audience that will inevitably become loyal followers of your brands.

Read more: How Bonobos became king of the eCommerce jungle by getting one thing right

By focusing on what you can offer that these major online businesses cannot, you are more likely to make a dent in the e-commerce market.

3. TOMS – One for One shoes

TOMS is the poster child for feel-good commerce, tightly weaving audience engagement into their marketing strategy through a positive social mission that nobody can deny, with their killer marketing slogan-slash-company vision: one for one.

How?

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For every transaction that is made, the company donates a good or service to underserved communities around the world. By keeping their business model deeply rooted in this act of service, the company easily creates loyal customers out of first-time buyers.

To take it even further, the company also encourages the customer to participate in social media campaigns and online competitions for their #withoutshoes campaign. This not only provides easy user-generated content but also drives easy traffic to their online shop, improving both their social proof and SEO without spending a dime.

Learn more: How TOMS shoes became a multi-million dollar company – while giving away millions of shoes

4. Leesa – great mattresses at affordable prices

Leesa provides great mattresses, so it’s easy for their customer base to rave about them. All they had to do was get their loyal customers to spread the news.

So how did they do it?

With word-of-mouth marketing.

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Rather than spending their entire marketing budget on ads to compete with other examples of ecommerce retailers in their niche, they enlisted our very own marketing automation tool to amplify their word-of-mouth marketing campaign.

Learn more: Leesa’s dream eCommerce growth

(Pro-Tip: Leesa uses ReferralCandy to fuel its rapid growth. Try ReferralCandy free here today.)

5. Everlane – Apparel + Radical Transparency

The online marketplace is crowded and nearly impossible to compete with. Even if you provide a quality product, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a way to offer the lowest price without cutting into your bottom line.

That’s why Everlane ditched the traditional e-commerce business models that focus on low costs and minimal profits by creating products with radical transparency.

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Basically, they pulled the curtain back on their manufacturing process and showed the true cost of every single step of the process. And they included those costs right on their product pages, along with information about the factories in which the products were made, the materials used to make them, and the exact profits made off of each transaction.

This radical transparency is something online shoppers had never experienced before, making them stand out among other e-commerce business examples in a unique and socially conscious way.

Not only that, but potential customers looking for a fashion alternative that doesn’t contribute to the devastating effects of fast fashion now know exactly which brand they can rely on for feel-good fashion at an affordable cost.

Learn more: How Everlane got everyone talking with insane word-of-mouth

6. Greats – Brooklyn sneakers

Just like many other successful e-commerce websites, Greats focuses on providing a quality product that aligns with an honorable social mission…

….then lets their loyal customers do the rest. It’s a perfect example of starting with why.

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With their solid word-of-mouth marketing strategy (and our handy referral app), Greats attracts potential customers through killer referral discounts. Aside from their Shopify store and basic email marketing campaign, they don’t use any other fancy tools.

When you provide a product or service that is worth bragging about, and a referral discount worth cashing in on, the marketing campaign basically runs itself.

Learn more: Greats’ ecommerce story + referral program analysis

7. ModCloth – Women’s vintage-style fashion

The e-commerce industry is full of businesses who are simply looking for ways to boost their sales with very little concern for their customers or their interests. While this is certainly one way to run an online store, it does very little to win customer loyalty or to make your brand stand out from the crowd.

And ModCloth was tired of it.

Born from a college dorm, ModCloth decided to make their e-commerce store a social experience, involving their customers in every step of the process.

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Learn more: From 1-woman firm to multi-million dollar company: ModCloth’s marketing strategy

They do this with their active social media accounts, non-airbrushed customers-turned-models, and product design voting campaigns. They also provide excellent customer support, centering their entire brand on finding the right product and fit for every single customer.

Their high-quality photos, behind-the-design blog posts, and down-to-earth product listings make the entire experience of shopping their store a fun and engaging one. They’ve built a strong online community out of their customers, ensuring that they will return to their ecommerce website over and over again.

(Psst – if the story sounds familiar, it echoes Rent the Runway’s runaway success)

 

8. ASOS – one-stop fashion site

ASOS, which stands for As Seen On Screen, is a fashion brand that showcases the latest trends as seen on celebrities. Since the ecommerce company boomed into a multi-billion dollar business, it has certainly learned which marketing campaigns are the most effective.

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Learn more: ASOS’s marketing strategy

As with many of the largest e-commerce companies, ASOS relies heavily on content marketing, influencer marketing, and social advocacy to establish themselves as the go-to ecommerce brand in the fashion industry. As a ecommerce business example, their arc of growth is so high and influential as to be compared to Amazon in some ways…

9. Birchbox – UK’s #1 beauty box

Birchbox created something that was revolutionary in the beauty industry, making word-of-mouth marketing a very natural part of its overall ecommerce business model. By providing samples of beauty products to its customers, something that was unheard of at the time of the launch, they naturally created buzz all over social media…

…along with lots of free user-generated content.

Learn more: Birchbox’s marketing strategy

Birchbox took it a step further and decided to ride the wave of positive feedback by incorporating robust word-of-mouth marketing campaigns.

Ever since, their e-commerce model has been replicated in virtually every niche, highlighting just how effective their marketing strategy was.

10. Dollar Shave Club

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The fun company which went viral with a killer YouTube video went on to get acquired by Unilever for a cool $1,000,000,000 dollars. It’s a great example of a guerrilla marketing tactic that worked well – and ended off starting a trend of honest, interesting, viral videos as well as subscription boxes.

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Read next: Top interviews with successful ecommerce founders

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Visakan Veerasamy

Visa is ReferralCandy's former Blog Editor [2013–2018]. He also co-founded Statement.sg, a fashion ecommerce label selling witty t-shirts. He's mildly Internet-famous for his elaborate Twitter threads. He hopes to enjoy a glass of scotch onboard a commercial space flight someday.

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