eCommerce Cultivated | Episode 017

The Benefits Of Building An Online Community As A Retailer

Ever thought about building an online community for your brand? Especially as a retailer?

Wonder if it’s worth it as a business? There are so many great opportunities that come from having an online community that is based around your business.

Tune in today’s episode as we dive into the details of building an online community around your brand. Perfect for those who value a more intimate connection with their customers.

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Show Transcript

Have you thought about creating a community around your brand but aren’t sure the best route?

In today’s episode, we’ll be discussing how to build a community around your brand. As well as give you tips on nurturing your community.

I started my first community back in 2007, unknowingly to me. It was around the time when online blogging was fresh and people were sharing their thoughts online. 

At the time, I had decided to create a free Blogger account and share a post, that would lead to other posts. Eventually, I turned my blog into a beauty & lifestyle blog where I would discuss mainly makeup, skincare and the latest beauty finds.

This was helpful to other people because product reviews weren’t as prominent as they are now and Amazon wasn’t as vast. 

Instead, people would search Google to find reviews from real users. People would find genuine reviews and thoughts and opinions on products and services. There were no sponsors or affiliates to sway them from sharing the true tea.

Because of that others began to find bloggers who they resonated with and trusted their opinions.

Naturally, communities started to form and just become larger and larger. 

Why am I telling you this?

Well, when it comes to building successful online communities you want to start with trust. 

What is an online community?

Before we get into trust let’s talk a bit about what a community is because they are vast and constantly evolve. 

A community is a group of like-minded individuals who share similar interests, values, or preferences. 

They tend to find some level of commonality amongst themselves and reinforce those beliefs by engaging and interacting with each other frequently.

Online communities can be very powerful and can really help a brand grow.

How do you create an online community?

You start by defining your position on something important to you and/or your brand. For example, maybe you care about sustainable fashion because you believe that workers should be paid fairly and fashion shouldn’t hurt the environment.

In this instance, you would pick mediums to share your thoughts. Mediums could be things like sharing videos, writing consistently about your stance, or getting featured on podcasts discussing your thoughts. 

As you continue to share naturally you’ll begin to attract individuals who share the same beliefs and values. 

Those same individuals will start to follow you on social platforms, join your newsletter, and begin to purchase your products.

That’s because through your consistent sharing you created a level of trust that they can support. 

Before you know it your community starts to expand and grow with amazing people!

Best Practices to Building An Online Community

Start with a clear message or purpose

Start with a clear vision or purpose based on a message you want to support. It could be something you’re against like in the sustainable fashion example. Or it could be based around something you are passionate about. 

Establish a medium of where you’ll communicate with your audience

A medium could be your brand website, a social platform, your email list, etc. Pick a medium that you’ll consistently show up for so that your audience can connect with you and/or your brand.

Connect with your people 

Once you’ve identified your message and a medium its now time to start connecting with your people. There are various ways to do this one way is to create content the attracts and another way is to directly connect with people. 

I say you should do a mixer of both, creating attractive worthy content and then engage with your audience frequently. 

That way its a mutual connection and you both get value.

Now that you have started building a community or you have tapped into an existing community. What will this do for your brand?

Well, your community will then become your mini cheerleaders helping you to spread the word about your mission. 

They’ll be the vehicles of your message that bridges more connections into your brand. Leading to more genuine relationships and connections.

Ultimately, this will lead to a massive growth of your brand over time. 

That brings me to a very important point, that it can take time to build a community. 

Don’t get caught up in looking at already established communities and thinking you need to be at their 10 years of hard work on day one. 

You’re going to have to respect the process here and put in the time and effort to make it happen. 

That doesn’t mean it can’t be fast, it really depends on so many factors such as:

  • Your own personal mission to get the message out there. 
  • Your personal beliefs and mindset
  • How deep your message resonates with people. 

Are just a few things to keep in mind. 

With belief and mindset being the top contenders of your ideas of success. 

I’m going to just give it to you straight here, no chaser. 

If YOU don’t believe in what’s possible for your community and have the mindset to persevere despite challenges. Maybe building a community around your brand is not the best option for you right now. 

Fortunately, we have the possibility of seeing other businesses highlight reels thanks to being in a more connected world. But we can, if we aren’t careful, start to believe that we need to be just as amazing as the business who put in years of hard work and now are in their prime. 

Amazon is a great example of a company that took years to build. The CEO and founder Jeff Bezos, core belief about his business was and still is to serve its customers. 

He knew that if he focused his efforts on making sure Amazon’s customers were happy it would lead to growth. It has served him well, Amazon continues to dominate the online marketplace for sales of products. 

Over time the company has made it easy for customers to get their orders fast. Plus there are other areas of the business that really takes the customer service levels up a notch. 

Such as partnering with bigger delivery companies like UPS to allow customers to drop off their returns to a local store. With no need for them to print labels at home. 

Or having several delivery trucks in operations to ensure customers are getting their order fasts. 

All of this has expanded and improved over the years by focusing on their message. 

Now the company has a ton of customers and ships countless orders out each day. To customers who enjoy their service. 

As you can see building a community around your brand can lead to massive growth over time. Here are some actions steps you can take to build your community. 

  • Validate that your message is clear (listen to episode 11 on the importance of brand values for your retail business)
  • Pick a medium that you enjoy engaging with and that your people use.
  • Create content that attracts those individuals and invite them to stay connected. 
  • Continue to nurture your community by providing value. 

Then over time, you’ll start to see the fruits of your labor and before you know it you’ll have a community of like-minded people who share your message even further. 

I’m curious to know have you been building a community or have a community now be sure to let me know. Connect with me over on Instagram @themaycreative and brag on yourself a bit.


Hi, I'm Karen, the founder + strategist/Shopify expert behind The May Creative. I help modern luxury & lifestyle product-based business owners craft an elevated Shopify website experience. So they can scale their business & reach their next level of success. Connect to learn more about working together. Or check out the episodes below or dive into some insightful eCommerce articles.


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