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How to create a VIP section in your e-commerce app

Exclusivity (or the velvet rope strategy) has always been a driving force in increasing revenue for many companies. Huge brands like Nike (Member-Only and Early Access to new products) and Apple (Exclusive Distribution and limited stock) have been wielding the power of exclusivity for years and with massive success to show for it.

Why? Because exclusivity translates to an increased perception of value. By making certain items less (easely) available they become more desired, as was proven in a 1975 study by Worchel, Lee and Adewole;

They placed ten cookies in one jar and two exactly the same cookies in another jar and asked people to rate the value of the cookies. You might have already guessed that the two cookies were rated higher than the ten cookies. But what you might not have guessed was that the ranking for the two cookies was TWICE AS HIGH!

So if you want to increase the perceived value of (certain) products, exclusivity is definitely the way to go.

Sidenote; in this blog we mention sales and promotions often, but we understand that not all of you can, or want to offer discounts. We ask you to keep an open mind and read between the lines here; plenty of suggestions and strategies to get this done, without offering discounts. Should you not be able to find them all, you can always contact your friendly neighbourhood Customer Success Manager.

So, how can we create this V.I.P. section within your e-commerce app?

Step 1; create a V.I.P. Audience

The key to adding exclusivity to your app is to start approaching, treating and communicating to your app users differently. Many brands refer to their app as a different place and/or the app users as a different group of customers. So instead of communicating to regular customers, users who shop in the app are referred to as (for example):

  • (Club) Members
  • Friends of (BRAND NAME)
  • Fans

You probably get the gist; start branding both your app and your app users differently and approach them with a different communication strategy then your ‘regular’ customers. This way you create the appearance of a separate, more exclusive area within your business. You offer a promise to those who download your app. So now it is time to fulfil that promise:

Step 2; dress up your V.I.P. section

Now that you have roped off a special section within your app as a V.I.P. section, you want to dress it up with exclusive features so that it’s not just the same area, but with a rope around it.

What type of features are we talking about?

Early/Exclusive Access to new products
When you have new products, don’t just release them into your store willy nilly. Depending on the type of product of course, you want to market them to your exclusive members-club first. Use product discovery on social media to highlight these products and hype up your customer base. Then announce the release of these new products, with an early access for your V.I.P. members. This way you make it more attractive to become a member a.k.a. an app user, contributing greatly to converting your customers to your highest converting channel.

Early Access to Big Sales
Most notably the Black Friday Sale. This combines the exclusivity with FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out). Black Friday summons images of folks storming through the gates and buying all the good stuff before they are gone. An image which is also associated with online Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales.

Offering your ‘chosen few’ the option to get in on the action early, stimulates conversions based on FOMO and will even stimulate the non-app users, as they know in the back of their minds that folks have already been buying sweet deals, so they should get in on it while the getting is still good.


App-Only Sales
An easy way to not only provide your app users with exclusive benefits, but also stimulate others to download the app is to offer a special sale in-app only. As an additional benefit, you can notify your customers that the exclusive app-only coupon will be sent via Push Message, thus also incentivizing more customers to allow Push Messaging.

You can even surprise your exclusive members with a flash sale via Push Message and tell the other customers who didn’t get to participate (either because they didn’t have to app, or they didn’t allow for push messages) about it after the sale has already concluded.

This way you offer a discount to a smaller group of customers, while still reaping the full benefits of letting others know how beneficial it is to have both the app installed and allow for Push Messaging.

App-Exclusive Section
Most famous and notorious for this strategy is Nike, who offers certain products only through their members-only section. You have probably seen the lines that go around the block for the latest Air Jordan’s somewhere in your life. Now imagine those to be only accessible through the app and what that can do for app adaptation.

You don’t need ‘lines-across-the-block’-products. That’s the funny thing about human beings; we automatically desire stuff that is hard to obtain, or (perceived as) scarce. According to Rene Girard’s mimetic theory, we tend to want things simply because other people want them. Human desire is not an autonomous process but a collective one — this is how we decide what we care about.

Therefore we highly recommend experimenting with an App-Exclusive section, combining great-to-top selling products with none-to-barely selling products to see what it can do for your bottom line.

Step 3; Launch your Exclusive Club

Don’t just slide it into your communications; plan a giant ribbon-cutting ceremony. Get celebrities, cake, balloons and most importantly; a monstrous sale that will dwarf Black Friday, Christmas and Prime Day to a regular discount.

You’re not just offering your products anymore; you have an exclusive, V.I.P., Special-Members-only-Reserved-For-The-Most-Awesome-People-In-The-World-Club. Brad Pitt and Beyoncé get nervous when they approach your doors, wondering if they are still relevant enough to enter.

Well, maybe that’s a bit over the top, but it’s most certainly the ideal version of the experience you are aiming for when you are marketing your exclusive club. Don’t be shy and don’t be afraid to shout it off the rooftops. You are taking your business to the next level and you want to offer your loyal customers (fans, members, friends, etc. see where we are going with this?) the respect they deserve.

Step 4; Keep Marketing and expanding your Exclusive Club

Your V.I.P. offers bottle-service, tables and exotic dancers? Yawn! That’s so 2019. In order to keep your exclusive club buzzing, you want to change things up every now and then. Most importantly; you want to keep re-inviting your members back with special offerings, exclusive products, and early-access releases (etc.) that make your club continuously worth the effort of visiting.

Remember; there is a lot of competition out there. People are opening Exclusive Clubs every day, so in order to stay relevant, we have to vamp the place up every now and then.

If you are running out of inspiration, or would like some assistance in setting up your own V.I.P.  Club, then get in touch with Customer Success. We LOVE brainstorming about ways to make your app more successful and helping you to build a mobile channel that will enter absolute legendary status within the eCommerce space.

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