How to create an effective eCommerce referral marketing program? As an eCommerce store owner, you’re constantly looking for new ways to attract targeted traffic and increase conversions. You need to use your resources carefully and invest your marketing dollars in as much growth as possible.

Referral marketing has grown in importance for eCommerce stores looking to grow sales without spending money on difficult-to-track marketing strategies that don’t guarantee results.

A brand store eCommerce referral marketing program, in particular, is a technique for motivating your current customers to refer new customers to your company. You reward the affiliate referrer with a discount, credit, little gift, or anything they deem worthwhile when a new customer makes a purchase.

eCommerce referral marketing programs are often known as refer-a-friend programs or affiliate programs. Whatever their names are, these are simple strategies to leverage the strength of informal referrals and word-of-mouth.

Why are referral programs an effective marketing strategy for eCommerce stores?

They are simple to set up. You may set up your program, including the appropriate widgets on your site, and then let your customers spread the news with the help of a referral marketing tool.

They run on their own. 

Once the program is activated, you will have no work to do (except fill all of the new orders!).

They make your customer acquisition costs predictable. It’s difficult to estimate the cost of acquiring a customer with soft marketing strategies such as social networking, blogging, or collaborations with other brands. However, you know exactly how much it costs to gain a customer through a referral program because you determine the reward.

They increase customer retention. When your customers refer to their friends, both the referrer and the referred customer feel invested in the brand. Both parties are more inclined to purchase from your store than a competitor.

In this blog post, we’ll show you instances of successful eCommerce referral marketing programs for well-known online retailers. Because of referral marketing, these became enormous brands with large audiences and solid customer bases. Use these programs as a model for yourself.


Ztylus ( ) sells phone cases with several functions, smartphone add-on lenses, and other phone and automobile accessories. Their unique disc-mount technology allows them to attach accessories to the phone without altering the case.

Their referral system is more akin to an affiliate program. Referrers share their code and earn a 10% commission on everything their friends and admirers buy – eternally. Referred customers also save 25% on their first purchase.

Furthermore, affiliates earn additional compensation based on their total referral sales: an extra 2% for reaching $5,000, 5% for reaching $10,000, and 10% for reaching $50,000.

The program is very appealing to content providers (popular Instagram profiles, YouTube video creators, and so on) because they can earn money from their referral codes indefinitely. Ztylus discovered a technique to maximize the success of their referral marketing program by appealing to influencers.


Dropbox’s CEO, who launched the referral program in 2010, raised user numbers from 100k to 4M in just 15 months, and signups climbed by 60% on an ongoing basis.

Dropbox ( ) is a perfect example of referral marketing. They are concerned with online data storage. They’ve created a new customer acquisition channel that is mostly focused on word of mouth and the company’s reputation. You will gain an additional 500 megabytes on your Dropbox account when your referral signs up!


Zulily ( ) unusually approaches eCommerce. They list things at steep discounts (up to 70%) for a brief time. They accomplish this by purchasing in bulk after their sale has ended (so they know exactly how much to buy). This allows them to keep their costs low and their selection current.

Referrers earn $15 for each friend they invite that orders a product. Given the store’s steep discounts, $15 goes a long way.

Referrers can provide their email address, and Zulily will look through their contacts to find the ideal people to invite. Referrers can also issue automated invites by simply entering the addresses of their friends.

Thread Monster

“Don’t make me think” is the principle of outstanding UX design. Threadbeast employs excellent UX designers who are well-versed in their field. They erase any barriers that their customers may encounter, making going on a sharing binge a no-brainer. 

The company is active on social media. Their referral program provides brand advocates with $50 for their first box in exchange for a free bundle.


Snapwire ( ) isn’t like most stock photo websites. Thus they wanted a strong strategy to publicize their unique business model.

Their platform connects content creators with brands in search of authentic, customized imagery. Buyers post a brief, then creators submit their best work, and afterward, buyers purchase any (or all) of the content that fits their requirements. They also have a growing library of real images for purchase.

Buyers can invite friends who will earn a $20 discount on their first purchase. Buyers receive a $20 credit when an invited friend makes a purchase.


Harry’s ( ) is more than just a shaving company. To increase their customer base, they’ve combined an eCommerce store with a subscription service.

Harry’s referral program no longer exists because it was just intended to help them get started. To encourage fans to refer to as many friends as possible, they gave incremental rewards. The program was a huge success. Harry’s campaign got 100,000 leads.

Referrers were given a free shave cream to recommend five friends, a free razor to send ten friends, a free shave set for referring 25 friends, and a year of free blades for referring 50 friends as part of the program. Referees also earned a 10% discount on their first purchase.


You wouldn’t believe that large brands like Sprint ( ) require referral programs to recruit new customers. Who isn’t familiar with Sprint? The truth is that referral marketing works regardless of the size of your company.

Customers earn $50 for each line their friends activate under Sprint’s program. That implies a customer may earn $200 if they persuade a household to activate four lines. There is a $500 annual cap, but this is still a significant incentive and a simple way for affiliate referrers to pay their phone bill.

Frank & Oak

Frank & Oak ( ) is a menswear store that focuses on ethically sourced and sustainable products. They create fascinating apparel by combining old styles and new cuts.

Rather than providing referral commissions, Frank & Oak has established a sophisticated affiliate partnership program. Affiliates can profit by providing their audiences with exclusive promotions and sales. Affiliates receive a 5% commission on all orders.

Frank & Oak help their affiliates by providing them with a large library of product photographs, graphics, logos, copy, videos, and other assets. Affiliates can even construct their own bespoke shop on the store’s website, stocked with products handpicked by the affiliate.


Leesa ( ) is working to improve the world for those in need. For every ten custom-made mattresses sold, they donate one to non-profit groups that help homeless and at-risk men, women, and children.

Their referral program is also very generous. When affiliate partners give their friends a $100 discount, Leesa rewards them with $50 in cash via PayPal.

Love With Food

This is a monthly subscription box that introduces you to new healthy snack options. Every month, you’ll get a mystery box of organic, all-natural, or gluten-free goods. They donate a portion of the proceeds from each box they mail to groups that combat child hunger worldwide.

The referrer receives a free box and 1000 points ($10 worth) when a referral link is used. Referrers can support their own subscription with just one referral each month because plans start at $8-$10. Subscribers who use a referral link receive 50% off their first box, lowering the barrier to entry and increasing the likelihood that the link will be used.


scaleo referral marketing software

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Referral marketing initiatives can help an eCommerce store grow quickly. You may expand one transaction into thousands more by utilizing your clients’ friends and fans. You are only charged for what you convert. You only need a referral marketing solution like Scaleo to get started.

Rewarding customers is the most effective approach to increase sales by boosting word-of-mouth. You can select from a variety of referral program plans depending on your needs, personalize your campaigns and rewards, and track your progress. Scaleo is a white label solution, so you can customize your program to match your needs.

Last Updated on November 28, 2023


Elizabeth is a Senior Content Manager at Scaleo. Currently enjoying the life in Prague and sharing professional affiliate marketing tips. She's been in the online marketing business since 2006 and gladly shares all her insights and ideas on this blog.