Today we spoke with Dinesh Raju, CEO at Referralcandy. This tool offers its customers an affiliate program (referrals) for e-commerce and easily integrates with CMS platforms of all kinds.

What trends do you think have marked e-commerce in 2018 and will be key during 2019?

2018 saw Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifying before Congress about Facebook’s data privacy breaches. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) also became enforceable in May and impacted the consumer data practices of any online retailer around the world that deals with consumers in the EU. Safeguarding customer data and privacy has now become a front and center issue that e-commerce merchants have to keep in mind.

With even Amazon opening physical bookstores, it’s clear that both the online and offline channels have a part to play in giving customers a premium shopping experience in 2019. Merchants understand this, and have been asking for help to design a holistic shopper journey and connect with customers once they’ve left the store. Providing omnichannel reward programs and a good offline-to-online experience will continue to be growing trends in this space.

Do you think that referral or affiliate programs are something specific for e-commerce with a certain volume? Or do you think they are valid for any online store?

Referrals are proof that you’ve built something customers love. Getting there takes time though, and a business might not yet have nailed product-market fit right after launch. It’s important to focus on getting the store’s core value proposition right, before pouring fuel on the fire. We typically tell businesses to wait until they are getting some organic word-of-mouth first before turbocharging that with an incentivized referral program.

Once they get to that stage, referrals are a wonderful source of new customers. Retailers tell us it’s their lowest cost acquisition channel with great ROI. The new customers who come in through a referral from a friend are also the ones who are most likely to stick around with a high lifetime value.

To what extent can a referral program lead to an increase in purchases? Do you have figures on this?

The main way our merchants measure the impact of their referral program is the referral rate: The volume of referred purchases as a percentage of the store’s total purchases. On average, our biggest customers ( stores with 1000 to 5000 orders per month) see a referral rate of up to 4%, which translates to about 100 to 200 additional purchases per month. These numbers are an average across all customers, and we have seen several success stories of stores with referral rates ranging from 10 to 30%, such as Critical Pass or Leesa.

How is ReferralCandy different from other solutions?

ReferralCandy is designed from the ground up to be aligned with the needs of small and medium-sized retailers. Our offering is the best fit for an SME and gives them the highest chance of success when compared with other options.

Our product is intuitive and easy to set up and customize. Features that would be available to large enterprises are provided at a price that won’t break the bank. Pricing for ReferralCandy is commission-based and we succeed with the merchant succeeds. There are no limits for a number of advocates, visitors and emails sent. Merchants also love our support team and leave us glowing reviews.

Integrating ReferralCandy with an e-commerce store takes just minutes and is fully automated once it’s been set up so merchants can concentrate on what they do best, delighting their customers with amazing products and service.

Can you give us a preview of what you are working on? What news would you like to launch in 2019?

Helping SMEs succeed with technology is core to our mission and drives what we do every day. From our chats with retailers, we’ve learned that a barrier to growing faster is a challenge in piecing together customer data from various sources and tools. We’d like to help online merchants with this and it will guide how we make ReferralCandy even better.

We also recently launched CandyBar, a SaaS product that helps brick and mortar SMEs get more regulars, the lifeblood of any small business. CandyBar makes it effortless for store owners to run in-store loyalty and customer referral programs.