It’s common knowledge that despite taking up a small percentage of your audience, returning customers are where you’ll be making a large portion of your revenue in eCommerce.
Building a repertoire of loyal customers isn’t always easy. With giants like Amazon and eBay, it’s not surprising if your customers treat you like second best, but that’s where killer loyalty campaigns come into play.
But what can you actually do to encourage customers to stick to you?
Truthfully, it’s quite simple. You need to make your customers feel valued; and the ways for it are varied. The filtration process starts early when a customer stops by your online store. No eCommerce website would have loyal customers in the first place if it is not appropriate on hygiene. Few important factors on which customers judge the hygiene of a website are:
- How quick are you ? Can you service my orders on the date and time you told you would process?
- How personalised are you? Can you talk to me in my language?
- How much can you make me feel valued?
The first factor is purely dependent on how efficiently you manage your stock or how efficient is your team at fulfilling shipping processes. The second point would be highly dependent on how amazing is your CRM program and how quickly can you understand the customer’s needs. While the third one is based on how you respond to each customer.
There are a number of ways to achieve these 3 things. In this article, I have picked out 7 loyalty techniques that work great for building loyal eCommerce customers:
1. Say thank you
It sounds too simple to be true, but simply sending out a thank you message via email can be a great way to improve customer loyalty.
Not only do thank you emails get far higher open rates than typical marketing emails, but they have a 67% average open rate.
You can include related products in your thank you email, or just a link back to your store. These days, creating automated, personalized thank you emails couldn’t be easier.
As an example, Beeketing’s ‘Happy Email’ plugin can automate thank you messages that can include the customer’s name and include a custom signature. With this automated system in place, you’re essentially generating extra loyalty for no extra effort or expense on your end.
2. Start with a great loyalty program
Loyalty programs are called that for a reason. They are designed to build customer loyalty as effectively as possible.
The trouble is, there are many different ways to create a loyalty program and getting it right can be tricky. However, we know that one tried and trusted loyalty program is a points reward system.
Customers can get rewarded points for purchasing items in your store. These points can then be used for discounts or freebies.
The type of system you develop for your eCommerce store will depend on what industry you’re selling in and how often customers will buy products within that niche.
For example, coffee chains like Costa and Starbucks offer free drinks after a certain number of purchases. Fashion retailers, however, find it easier just to offer a simple 5% or 10% discount on the next purchase.
One universal rule is that you want to make sure your rewards system is easy to understand. Complicated rules or long terms lists aren’t going to attract people to make more purchases.
Smile.io is a leading example of how you can build your own rewards program from within Shopify. There are many great plugins available that offer similar functionality.
3. Tailor your eCommerce experience to each customer
One growing trend in the world of eCommerce is building a personalized shopping experience for every last one of your customers.
It sounds like something that would be too much effort to handle, but there are effective ways to create a personalized shopping experience for your customers without any manual input.
One method would be to use an AI powered personalization software.
With software like this, you can include related products on-site that are based on the behavior of other similar shoppers. You can also send out automated emails to your customers based on their past sales or on-site behavior.
The end goal is to have emails that send out with products that your customer is truly interested in. You can send out emails that are directed specifically to each customer and have products curated with AI that make the customer feel like you understand their interests.
4. Offer a referral system that rewards customers for sharing
If you want to double dip with building customer loyalty and customer acquisition, you should implement a referral system on your eCommerce store.
New customers are more likely to make purchases when referred by their friends and the referrers themselves can be rewarded with discounts or cash for their efforts.
Including affiliate and referral tiers can help encourage your top referrers to work even harder to spread your name.
Referral programs can provide plenty of benefits for your business, with customer loyalty being one of them, both for referring customers and new referred customers.
5. Provide more meaning to your customer’s purchases
A great way to build customer loyalty is to have a strong mission for your business. For example, using 100% organic produce. By supporting a good cause or ensuring your products are ethical, your customers will feel happier about their purchases.
Generally being transparent about your product from start to finish can help to improve the confidence of first time buyers, too, and it can also increase customer retention.
You can even showcase your product being made from start to finish and use that as content for your blog or social media channels.
6. Get personal with your most loyal customers
Getting personal with your customers can be a very effective method to improve customer loyalty.
If you’re trying to grow a large eCommerce store, however, keeping that personal touch becomes increasingly more difficult.
If you see specific customers making repeat purchases, you’ve obviously already done something good to please them. Why not reach out to them and ask them for their feedback on your product?
Alternatively, invite your most loyal customers to a new exclusive email list that shares upcoming product launches or news about your company.
7. Integrate offline shopping with your eCommerce efforts
A popular option these days is to run an eCommerce store from within a physical location. This gives customers more ways to shop.
They can shop online and have items delivered to their home, they can visit your location to browse your products, or they can even make orders from their phone and then come by to pick up the product after the order is placed.
For this part, you’ll of course already need a physical location. If you do, setting up the link between your online store and physical store is very easy.
Pick up a Shopify card reader that’s integrated with your existing online Shopify store and you’ll be off to a good start already.
For all of this to work, you’ll need good inventory management software, such as Orderhive. Not only can it keep in sync what’s in stock online and offline in real-time, the software simplifies other back-end processes too, as it brings order, shipping and inventory functions in one platform. The software also provides you with valuable insights into customer buying pattern, hence enabling to find ways how to best serve them. Your best bet though, is to go with a tried & tested inventory solution. Orderhive offers a free 15 day trial.
Thanks for reading! This wraps up our look at 7 easy ways to create loyal eCommerce customers. Together, these methods are very easy to implement and very powerful for growing customer retention.
Michelle Deery is a copywriter with over 6 years experience and writes content for Heroic Search, a SEO agency based in Tulsa. She specializes in writing about eCommerce, inventory management and the supply chain. She has been featured in publications such as Entrepreneur.
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