Last week we examined the 3 most important ecommerce metrics for your success. The first metric was repeat purchases. Customer loyalty is a key indicator of your company growth. The higher the percentage of orders from repeat purchases the healthier the business is. Repeat business and customer loyalty goes hand in hand and is directly correlated. In this article we review 10 tips for increasing customer loyalty:
Tip #1 – Build trust
For eCommerce, the most important thing is trust.
This one is simple to understand because we’re all customers too: design a bit outdated? lost some trust. product description has a typo? lost some trust. Not enough images? Images not clear? lost some trust. You get it. Everything that eludes anything less than optimal erodes some trust. Some exceptions apply of course, for example in the Education industry we have found that customers do not trust the polished look so much. However, as a general rule of thumb go for the polished look and clean anything that looks odd or out of place.
Make sure to cover all the basics: site is secure, show some credentials, and make it easy to contact you. Whether you have a physical store or not, you want to establish a sense of real business in your customer’s mind.
Tip #2 – Offer incentives
In one data analysis we did, we found that if a customer bought twice they are more likely to buy for the third time and if they bought three times they are more likely to buy fourth time. Makes sense right? Well, you may want to try some incentives to target those individuals who may become a great repeat buyer. Focus on those 1st and 2nd time customers until you find out what it is that brings them back again.
Incentives come in different forms for different people: free shipping for your second order? 10% off your second and third orders? how about we throw in a small product for free on your second order? Try a variety of things until you see some positive feedback.
Tip #3 – consider the entire experience
Deliver on your promise. Whatever it is you are selling has to offer good value or a good experience or both. Customers will come back if they got tremendous value or remember a great experience. As one Airbnb founder mentioned in an article about customer experience:
We always thought about our website and the steps someone goes through to book, but what the storyboard made clear is that we were missing a big part of the picture—the offline experience—that’s an even more meaningful part of using Airbnb than booking a property. We realized by looking at the storyboard that there are a lot of important moments where we weren’t doing anything.
Take a step back and think what is the complete experience for my customers? How can you influence it along the way? You actually have a lot of influence when it comes to packaging, shipping, follow up emails or phone calls, etc. Optimize it.
Tip #4 – offer fast shipping
Ok, how many times was this mentioned before? Delight your customers by shipping super fast. Yes, shipping fast is not easy. While there is a large amount of effort to achieve fast shipping the reward is great. So far even in 2017 fast shipping can be a differentiator between eCommerce businesses.
How can you achieve fast shipping? Here are some suggestions:
- Have a handle on your inventory – don’t run out of products too early.
- Setup a solid and fast shipping station
- Schedule daily delivery tucks -or- be physically located close to a shipping center
- Use the right shipping company – FedEx maybe faster to some zipcodes and UPS to others…
- Look for alternative shipping companies – GSO can ship overnight in California for a similar ground shipping rate from the big shipping companies.
Tip #5 – remain sensitive to pricing
If you gain some modest success, your competitors will notice and lower their pricing. Alternatively, it is possible that over time your overall cost including shipping and taxes have gone up. Keep an eye on the price from your customer’s point of view which includes everything: shipping, taxes, ultimately overall value. Customers may be delighted from your product but may hesitate the second time because the cost is not competitive any more. Always remain sensitive to the your pricing.
Tip #6 – offer a rewards program or loyalty points
Yes, most people will ignore them. However, if implemented well and thoughtfully a subset of your customers will take note of those points. Understand that rewards programs by nature will only target a smaller subset of your customers – find out who they are? what are they really after? and target this rewards program to more people like them. This is an area where you will need to constantly innovate and try new things. Make sure that the rewards information is visible. In particular, how many points they have? how many points they will get for each order? and any related information to the rewards. Make sure any rewards interaction is frictionless on checkout.
One downside to be aware of: some stores that will become popular can easily become targets from spammers or hackers who will find ways to rack up points. In some cases they will figure out ways to get entire orders for free which will hurt the bottom line. Keep an eye on your biggest rewards customers and make sure it’s a win-win offer.
Tip #7 – include a printed coupon in the shipped box
You’re about to ship a box to your customer? well, it’s your box! spice it up a little and include a coupon for their next order with an extra 10% off. Or drop in a small card with details about an upcoming event, social marketing event, if they’re close by invite them to your physical location. This is your time to get creative.
Tip: include an expiration date with any physical card that includes a discount code. You always want to keep some urgency to your sale offers.
Tip #8 – make repeat orders as easy as pie
If a customer goes through your checkout once, you should offer them to save their profile: shipping, billing, and payment information. Always allow them to opt out and make sure the data is secure. Do not store credit card information on your servers. Instead, use services like stripe or authorize.net to handle that for you. However, the next time a return customer wants to checkout it should be super easy for them to do so with a password and a few clicks. Magento 2 is perfect for that, you may need several extensions but once configured you are good to go here.
Tip #9 – be memorable
This is what everyone mentions: show personality. Yes, you should do that and remember that the goal is to be memorable. There are various ways to achieve it:
- Unique design
- Unique language – if you think it’s appropriate and speaks to your customers, why not?
- Include a hand written note. Ok, who does that anymore? well that’s the point! You can also find a way to reprint your hand written note and slip a cool thank you note in each box you ship.
Tip #10 – upgrade customer service to customer success
This point should almost be your top priority: you must delight your customers, especially customers who experienced an ‘issue’ while buying your product. Think of it this way: these customers were already sold once, so they are aware of the value you offer and bought. Only that at some point they had an issue and reached out for help. No matter how furious they are on the phone they are already ‘sold’. So if you manage to delight them and turn them from a fuming customer to a delighted customer, you may find your best cheerleader!
Essentially, get out of your way to make these customers happy. If the item was refused for some reason, offer them free shipping. If the item was damaged, offer a free replacement. I can give countless examples but there’s one thing in common with successful ecommerce stores: if a customer had an issue, they made sure to fix the issue and then they made sure you walked away delighted. This includes the likes of Skullcandy, Airbnb, and Zappos.
To summarize, customer loyalty and repeat purchases are key for the long term success of your eCommerce business. We just covered ten ways and a bunch of ideas. What worked for you in raising your repeat purchase rate?