No matter where you work, you’ve probably heard the term “side hustle.” As ecommerce continues to become even more accessible, more people are turning their hobbies and passions into profitable businesses outside of their 9 to 5 work day.
This is how Shine On originally got started. Looking for ways to supplement her income, Fee Kirkpatrick started selling vintage clothing on Trade Me, a New Zealand auction and classifieds site. For over 10 years, she built up a rather larger community of engaged buyers and sellers using nothing but a Facebook page. Through sharing posts and commenting on each other’s content, this dedicated group of customers quickly became more than mere followers — they become a brand community.
"The whole Facebook thing grew out of my sister running a vintage type business through Trade Me, and it was there for a number of years. Over that time, she built up quite a following through her account and a Facebook page that advertised it."
Cliff Hopkins, General Manager, Shine On
Eventually Fee realized her community was too big to sustain on her own, and she made the decision to move from Trade Me to Shopify. With more room for her community to grow, Fee expanded her team as Shopify helped them to continue growing their business.
Recognizing the need for a retention strategy
As they hired more staff for dispatching and packing orders, Shine On continued to establish itself as the place to shop for trendy fashion in New Zealand, but they knew something else was missing. While they appreciated each of their customers, they wanted to find a way to truly reward them for being loyal to their brand throughout all of the exciting changes they had made.
"We already had quite a loyal following of customers, and I recognized that we could standardize that loyalty into a good system that was personalized and designed to keep them coming back."
The problem was figuring out a way to do that. Even though Shopify made running their business easier, they were still a relatively small team working on an increasingly large scale. As a result, they had no room for additional responsibilities or time-intensive tasks — no matter how badly they wanted to start a rewards program.
"We really wanted to give back to our loyal customers without creating a lot more work for ourselves."
Thankfully, there was a solution. After sharing their desire to start a program with a developer they were working with, the Shine On team was directed to Smile.
"[We] like the simplicity of the dashboard because it's easy to understand and navigate."
From the beginning, they knew it was the solution they had been looking for and were able to quickly get Shine On Rewards up and running.
Prioritizing customer engagement with rewards
As soon as their program launched, Shine On’s community members were excited to get involved. This is proof of the power of their existing brand community. With deep, emotional connections to the Shine On brand, customers were genuinely excited to be given more ways to stay connected not only with each other but with the brand as a whole.
This is most evident in the way customers engage with each other as VIP members.
"There’s a lot of prestige for our customers that comes with letting everyone in the Facebook group know that they’ve just graduated to Silver or achieved Gold. It’s quite an achievement, so they share a snapshot of the email they get and that encourages a little bit of friendly competition amongst all of our members."
From sharing posts to commenting on each other’s success or liking status updates, Shine On’s customer experience has evolved with their program. Now, their Facebook group is more than a place to share ideas — it’s also a place to celebrate achievements, deepen relationships, and get rewarded.
All of this excitement from customers has given the Shine On team the confidence to try new things and experiment with how their program works and how customers are rewarded. One of the most interesting additions has been a monthly social reward, given to the customers who engage with their community most often.
"We have a monthly reward for people who engage the most in our group and on our social media, and it's easy to award. I just go in and manually add 2,000 points to about 20 people's accounts. I then advertise it to the group, saying that so-and-so people have had points added to their accounts, and customers are really thrilled with it."
By combining the simplicity of their Smile program with the enthusiasm of their customers, Shine On has shaped their community into one with equal contributions from both their brand their committed members. This two-way exchange of value has helped them establish powerful reciprocal relationships that motivate the Shine On team to continue rewarding their customers for valuable community behavior.
Building strong customer relationships with Smile
Since they launched Shine On Rewards, Shine On has seen incredible results within their community. From astounding account creation rates to significant increases in program engagement, Shine On’s loyal community has found incredible value in their program, emboldening them to keep experimenting in the future.
One of their biggest experiments was with Smile Nudges. These onsite messages remind members of the recent rewards they had earned with prompts to redeem them in real time. This has been a fantastic opportunity for Shine On to continue giving back to their community the way that they wanted. Now, no one will miss enjoying the value they’ve earned!
"I guess that’s what I like about it — being able to reward people with something that sounds valuable. You give them a lot of points and they’re super happy, but it’s really simple to do."
It’s these types of comments that clearly demonstrate that Shine On has been committed to their loyal community members from the beginning — a fact that isn’t likely to change anytime soon.