Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

5 Of The Most Successful Shopify Stores To Model After

Hustling hard to build your own Shopify store, but need some motivation to push yourself ahead?

That’s why we’re here.

We know that building an ecommerce business is tough. If you’re a first-time entrepreneur, you’ll have to handle (almost) everything by yourself – marketing, product, design, HR, logistics, finance, etc.

And that alone can derail many people’s hopes of succeeding.

But it is not impossible.

With some grit, luck and ingenious business/marketing strategy, you too can join the ranks of Shopify stores that are making it. You can join the stores that are headlining the news for disrupting an industry, generating 7- to 8-figures in revenue or just simply helping the owner live a life of comfort and happiness.

In this article, we’ve listed out 5 of the most successful Shopify stores we know. We’ll tell you why they’re successful, and try to dissect their marketing strategy so that you can replicate them and see if it works for your store.

Ready?

Let’s go!

1. YouFoodz

The online food market is a market worth $3.5 billion dollars. And YouFoodz, a Brisbane-based online food delivery company is well-primed to take advantage of that trend.

So much so that in 2015, YouFoodz notoriously grew 5% – 10% week-on-week. In YouFoodz Head Chef Christian Andrew’s words, that’s “3,846 per cent sales growth over the last 14 months. To say we’ve been blown away is an understatement.”

According to SimilarWeb, YouFoodz is receiving about ~200,000 visitors per month to their site:

Of which, almost a whopping 9% is coming from referrals (note: having almost 10% of your traffic coming from referrals is difficult to achieve!)

It’s amazing.

I can boil down the success of their referral marketing strategy to their referral program. YouFoodz uses ReferralCandy, and their referral program is shown directly to anyone who visits the YouFoodz website:

The copy “Get Free Meals” is compelling – after all, who doesn’t want free meals?! Once the visitor clicks on the tab at the bottom, they will be shown this:

YouFoodz is pretty generous with their incentives, giving away a week’s free (that’s almost $100 in value given away per person!)

YouFoodz understands that a strong incentive is required to encourage people to share, and that evidently works as YouFoodz’s referral program is one of the most powerful aspects of their marketing machine.

Key Takeaway: A referral program is a powerful way to get more customers at low cost. Set one up quickly by using a tool like ReferralCandy.

2. Thrive Causemetics

When her friend Kristy passed away at a young age of 24 years old from cancer, Karissa Bodnar was shaken. 24 is too young to take anyone’s life away, let alone a girl who was the kindest and most compassionate human being Karissa had ever known.

Inspired by her friend, Karissa, who already had a decade worth of experience in makeup and cosmetics decided to start Thrive Causemetics, a cosmetics company that donates one product to a woman-in-need for every product bought.

Today, Thrive has an estimated revenue of $3.1 million dollars and have donated more than one million dollars to charity organizations like Mary’s Place and Dress for Success.

Thrive receives about ~500,000 visitors per month:


And most of them come from Direct traffic:


The reason for this is simple – Thrive is Beauty With A Purpose.

With her touching backstory that inspired the company, and the one-for-one model popularized by TOMS, Thrive is no longer just an ecommerce store. Thrive is a movement – a movement to empower patients with cancer.

This is a movement that many Thrive customers are willing to get behind and spread the word about, resulting in Thrive’s discovery via Direct traffic.

Thrive also has a dedicated page on their website that explains how they give, with powerful, emotional quotes that pull on the heartstrings on anyone that reads it:


Key Takeaway: People don’t just buy from companies; they want to buy from the person behind the company. They want to know your story. Figure out your story, and start telling it – on your website, social media, copy, etc. If you need help with storytelling, here are some formulas you can check out.

3. Endy Sleep


Endy Sleep is Canada’s largest direct online-only mattress company. In an industry filled with larger-than-life claims, Endy has succeeded. Not only that, anyone who wishes to buy an expensive mattress (Endy’s mattresses cost about $1,000 or more) would definitely want to try it out.

Yet, Endy has managed to pull off the online-only model for a mattress company.

In fact, they are so successful that they were heading for a $20 million dollars revenue year in 2017.

How did they do it?

I think one of the biggest contributors to Endy’s success is the use of the free trial. As we know, free trials are a powerful growth tactic. Anyone who has tried out a software for 30-days (or more), and loved it will definitely become a customer.

However, as a strategy, free trials were mostly done by software and apps as it was easy to offer access and not lose money on the frontend.

Despite that, Endy has managed to pull it off for a product company. While most companies would fear that they would lose their products to thieves and cheaters, Endy doesn’t care.

In fact, Endy allows their potential customers to trial their mattresses for 100 nights (approximately 3 months).

And the best part is – if you dislike the mattress after using it for 3 months, Endy would still take back the mattress… and offer you a full refund.

It’s a no-lose situation for the customer, and also showcases Endy’s confidence in their own product. They know that anyone who has tried the Endy mattress for 3 months would love and would stick to it.

And here’s the kicker.

It works. Endy has reported that it has one of the lowest rates of return in the mattress industry.

Key Takeaway: Build confidence in your product by offering a free trial, or a testing phase for your products.

4. Freshly Picked

Since kids will outgrow their shoes anyway, it doesn’t matter what kind of shoes they wear, amirite?

Susan Petersen disagrees. She believes that soft soles are better for babies as they’re learning to walk because it promotes better balance and allows them to flex their toes.

And this is the basis behind Freshly Picked, an ecommerce store selling adorable baby moccasins.

Freshly Picked had a rough start. To begin the store, Susan had to sell scrap aluminium to have enough money to kickstart it. Several years later, the story has changed.

Freshly Picked is now a multi-million dollar business, and are selling shoes to celebrities like Jessica Alba, Mila Kunis and the Kardashians. She even made it onto Shark Tank, where Daymond John offered $150,000 for 25% of her business (the deal eventually fell through, but the publicity was great.)

Susan Petersen attributes her store’s success to Freshly Picked’s regular blogging. And one can see why.

According to SimilarWeb, most of Freshly Picked’s traffic comes from search:

And a deeper dive into Ahrefs shows that Freshly Picked is ranking for a whopping 10,000+ keywords and is receiving an estimated 14,000 organic visitors per month:


The Freshly Picked homepage ranks for a ton of important keywords like “baby moccasins” – searches which definitely help Freshly Picked generate tons of sales.

This clearly shows the power of a well-optimized site. A well-optimized site (and its category and product pages) can rank for tons of important, buyer-friendly keywords that eventually lead to sales on your store.

Key Takeaway: People search for things to buy all the time. Capture those traffic by optimizing your site for the keywords that are important to you.

5. Flat Tummy Tea


Founded in 2013, Flat Tummy Tea is a herbal detox tea formulated to help speed metabolism, boost energy and reduce bloating so that your tummy looks flatter.

And together with the #fitspo trend on social media, Flat Tummy Tea has grown rapidly, receiving over 13,500 positive reviews on their website.

It also has an estimated yearly revenue of $35 million dollars – huge for a tea site.

One of the biggest reasons for Flat Tummy’s success is Instagram. With a following of 1.5 million, Flat Tummy has the ability to reach millions of people with just several posts on their Instagram.


The way Flat Tummy Tea has built their Instagram following is through influencers. Flat Tummy Tea regularly sponsors actresses, influencers, celebrities, bloggers so that they can share about Flat Tummy’s products to their audience.

Here’s an example of Flat Tummy Tea working with actress Laila Odom (110,000 followers) to promote their new lollipop product:


Flat Tummy Tea also regularly shares the before-and-after pictures of their customers, demonstrating evidence that their product works:


And they are so well-loved that even an announcement post receives over 8,000 Likes:


Key Takeaway: Is your product highly visual? Is your product aspirational (in the sense that customers can see noticeable change after using it?) If so, consider Instagram as a marketing channel. Then, grow your account by partnering with influencers to sell your product and account to their audience.

Final Thoughts

Success in ecommerce is not easy, but not impossible.

As you can see above, there are plenty of Shopify stores that have made it work through various successful strategies, luck and lots of grit and hustle.

Learn from their stories, and model after them. Replicate their tactics. And if possible, reach out to them and ask how they did it. Learn.

Who knows? You might be the next store we profile on this list.

Get on the podium with the top apps, how-to guides and lessons from success in our Ultimate Shopify Marketing Resource.
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Si Quan Ong

Si Quan is ReferralCandy's Content Marketing Manager. He is also the co-founder of BreakDance Decoded, an online breakdance training company. He loves standup comedy, and has a dream to visit at least 100 countries in his lifetime.