Having set up an e-commerce store, you most definitely know about your existing competition and the market pulse. Keeping the same in mind, you planned and executed a strategy that brought in customers to your Shopify store. While the customers make their first purchase, they go through the experience of shopping, consuming the product or service, and the after-sale support and service offered by you. These are metrics that will now affect every future purchase of that customer, if any, at your store. As we all know very well, onboarding new customers is important but expensive, while retaining customers is cheaper and brings in the highest ROI. So, how do you ensure that the customer returns?
Here are a few tips to help you drive return purchases at your Shopify store:
Your online store experience plays an important role in creating the first impression. As we all know, first impressions are lasting impressions. For your Shopify store, choose from multiple themes and templates that Shopify offers for a design appropriate to your offering. You want the customer to figure out your offering from the colors, icons, content, banners, and design used in the website. Shopify's highly customizable themes give you the freedom to play around and build websites to your exact specifications.
Applications that help augment your online store's aesthetic and experiences such as theme addons, navigation tools, appointment scheduling, chatbots, and more help ease customer browsing and buying process.
Lastly, ensuring the customer has multiple payment options and quick purchase and exit journey is the best way to seal the deal. A happy ending means a successful impression. Ensure that you provide multiple options to choose from when checking out - whether it is cash on delivery for local orders or pay after service for service offerings.
Shopify's platform has a robust analytics module that helps merchants view and analyzes multiple metrics, especially in terms of consumer behavior. Shopify helps keep track of sales, customers, returning customers, one-time customers, as well as customers by location and time. These metrics prove particularly helpful in figuring out the number of customers lost and retained. Behavior reports in Shopify help further analyze the customer behavior before the purchase was made. From the duration of the visitor's session to the activities performed throughout the session, including conversions are some of the metrics that bring visibility into the whole picture.
As an ecommerce store, you're bound to augment your customer's experience with the help of tools and apps from Shopify's vast store. These apps also collect and crunch data specifically captured by them on your website. Let's take an example, Appointo, the appointment scheduling application built specifically for your service offering ecommerce site, collects appointment data from your website as well as point of sale and generates reports for easy analysis. Take a look at the data generated such as bounce rates, conversion rates, navigation glitches, errors, or critical payment success and failure numbers to course correct and build successful strategies that ensure customer retention.
Cross-selling and upselling
A rather common sales technique to promote repeat purchases is cross-selling and upselling techniques. For products and services that are usually long-term or one-time purchases, this technique is beneficial in building revenue from existing customers. Let's take an example of a tattoo parlor that has built an online store for its customers to buy permanent tattoo paraphernalia such as after-care creams, tattoo machines, inks, needles, wipes, etc. as well as book an appointment for a session at the store. This is a business that would have rare repeat customers for the same service or product. Customers who have opted for a permanent tattoo are rather unlikely to repeat the service or those who have bought a machine. Although, this opens up opportunities for the parlor to cross-sell their customers. Targeting the customers who have recently opted for a permanent tattoo with after-care products or the customers who have recently bought a machine with a sanitization kit is more likely to generate repeat customers in this scenario.
Similarly, upselling refers to purchases that have the potential of a higher revenue during repeat purchases. These are tactics that many subscription-based software companies use to retain and garner returns from existing customers. Let's take an example of a store that sells electronics. A customer buying the iPhone 11 is most likely to trade in for an iPhone 12 post its launch. This is the upselling tactic. A surefire way to impact your bottom line.
A rather important jargon that marketers use in their dictionaries is the word mind share or share of mind. Just like the name suggests, it refers to how likely your audience is to remember your brand when in need of the service or product that your brand offers. Mind share is simply bringing awareness and nurturing your audience frequently to ensure that you stay on top of their minds all the time. This can be achieved through emails, social media posts, activities, events, messages, and other communication tools to remind your customers of your presence as well as promote your products and services. Shopify's app market has a list of categories that provide tools for SEO, direct marketing, email marketing, advertising, content marketing, etc. that can be leveraged for this purpose.
Referrals and rewards
An important factor in driving repeat purchases is customer loyalty. Why does a customer prefer one merchant over another for a similar product or a service in the first place? This is called a USP or a unique selling proposition. This differentiating factor is also the main reason you may win the client repeatedly. But many a times USPs are easy to replicate and most competition never fail to do so. At this point, earning the repeat purchase from the customer proves to be difficult. A simple solution to the same is loyalty rewards. Your ability to provide exclusive products, services, or offers as a reward to the loyal customers helps improve retention rates. Many companies offer rewards programs and loyalty programs, especially brick and mortar stores. Your online store could also run similar programs or offer exclusive services such as free maintenance, consultation, or discounts only for the customer. It leads to happier and satisfied customers. These satisfied and loyal customers prove to be an excellent word-of-mouth channel that helps build your brand. Encourage these customer-built-customer networks with referral rewards and incentives.
Subscription payment plans have been recently popularized by SaaS products around the world. Although, subscription payment plans are also a surefire way to ensure customer loyalty and repeat purchases. Let's take an example of a major global ecommerce platform that launched subscription options for many of its grocery products where the customer enjoyed discounts for long term subscriptions and regular replenishment without the hassle of reordering. Not just product-based ecommerce stores, even service providers such as spas and salons have started selling annual "passes" or subscriptions that include a package of free services and discounted member rates throughout the subscription period. You can try out Loop Subscriptions to setup Subscriptions & Recurring orders and increase sales.
So to summarize, customer retention and repeat purchases for online stores can be improved through an elevated online store experience, data analysis and decision making based on the same, cross-selling and upselling sales tactics, frequent customer nurturing and engagement, and last but not the least exclusivity. Always remember, customer retention is always a better and cheaper option than attracting new customers.