08/16/2010 03:45 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Customer Loyalty in Ecommerce

The other day I was checking my inbox and I noticed a proposal, from an e-tailer who shall not be named, for me to refer my friends to shop at an e-store I particularly like.

I certainly love to talk about this e-tailer, who I think has done a fantastic job at providing great customer service and a quality product, both of which I am particularly picky of because I do run a men's dress shirts e-shop. But to email blast my friends just didn't seem right. Mostly because there was incentive on my end to do so.

The offer was, share XYZ store with your friends and get a $50 gift certificate and give a $50 gift certificate when one of your friends spends over $100 in our store.

I get $50 for my friends to spend money?
That's clever! But oh, so shady.

I didn't want to be that friend that was trying to make money off of my other friends. I have friends like that, and I lost quite some respect for them when they tried that with me.

What is scariest about this experience was that I could import my contacts from my email servers to blast everyone in my address books! Can you see what technology can do?

I would happily refer my friends to this e-store. Probably not in an email blast, but with word-of-mouth and social media referrals. But definitely not because I was looking for an incentive to do so. I am a loyal customer of this e-store, and believe that they are doing something really awesome that I should share with my friends and family, but I am not interested in your $50. You can keep it. I just want to give a positive referral without thinking about what's in it for me. What's in it for me is that I will have positively contributed to my friend's next shopping experience because I turned them onto a site that was awesome at customer service and provided a really quality product my friend is looking for.

That's real loyalty. Plus, because I love the store so much, I am a returning customer, and do tell my friends about the e-store when I am wearing their product or when they are talking about their desire to shop.

There are lots of ways to capture customer loyalty. Tweet with me. Send me a nice email. Send me some promocodes and special offers. Make some nice comments when you Tweet or change your Facebook status because I will be following you and I will like your Fan page. Just be awesome. Don't try to sell me on selling my friends. That's not cool...

Danny Wong is an e-commerce entrepreneur and his e-store, Blank Label, specializes in custom made dress shirts and slim fit dress shirts.