Studies show that it can be five times as costly to attract new customers than it is to retain the already existing ones. At the same time, the revenue that returning customers bring to an e-commerce business can be easily compared to that obtained from new customers. Therefore, more and more e-commerce businesses currently focus on trying to build better relationships with their customers in an attempt to engender customer loyalty.
This, however, is a rather tricky thing to do. Today, when the options are pretty much unlimited and customers have all of the internet to shop at, it can take some effort for businesses to prove their customers that they are worth returning to. Here are some ways how e-commerce businesses could build better customer relationships.
Focus on ensuring that you are providing services customers would return for
Although e-commerce is all about successful and effective marketing, offering a good highly functional website and ensuring your business is all caught up with its online presence, the last word is still after the actual product or service you market. Despite all the effort e-commerce businesses put into creating a bright and appealing image, it is the quality of the final product they purchase that really matters.
In fact, a recent study revealed that the most important factors that engender customer loyalty to the e-commerce brands and make them return to shopping with that company are product quality and customer service. Those two take up 88% and 72% of votes respectively.
The reason for this is that modern customers have more access to all the information about the brand, especially if it is represented online. Social media plays an important role there, as customers have a lot of power over it. They can review the service they receive, the products they buy and effectively communicate with each other in an attempt to find the products of the highest quality. Therefore, it is essential that you focus on the quality of your product before anything else.
One of the big things with e-commerce businesses is that they often do not have access to some of the extended marketing mix elements, the physical aspect of it in particular. When operating in real life as opposed to online, businesses can have a huge advantage over their competitors by creating an unforgettable atmosphere at their store or an unusual customer experience that could sometimes compensate for small occasional flaws their product could be faulty of. Moreover, non-ecommerce businesses have the benefit of the immediate presence of their product to the customer. This implies that the customer clearly sees the tangible item they are to purchase and can make a decision regarding their future purchase based on their personal assessment of what they see. This is not the case with e-commerce businesses. With a lot of websites and marketplaces online, it is difficult to convey the product in the exact way as it is in real life. Therefore, it is possible that customers could be not completely satisfied with what they receive upon purchase. If the customer is not happy with what arrives, though, they are likely to not buy from the business again. Hence, the goal of growing customer loyalty is not achieved.
There are several ways in which you can ensure that the aforementioned situation does not happen. First of all, it is essential that you describe your products the way they are and make sure that the customer is provided with all the necessary information. Even nowadays when shopping online has become the new normal, a lot of people are still wary about their online purchases. Some customers tend to not trust the websites unless they can see some evidence that the product sold is the product they will receive. The more you show, the better your customer understands what is to be expected, the less anxiety they experience when ordering the product from your e-commerce business. One way of doing it is by allowing your customers to receive small samples or allow free returns. Both strategies would give your customers a sense of safety when it comes to the products you sell, and subsequently increase their levels of trust. In turn, those will lead to better customer loyalty as your brand would be associated with a trustworthy company worth returning to.
In addition to that, if you are an e-commerce business, it is absolutely mandatory for you to provide your customers with the product you market and advertise. If you want your customers to be loyal to you, you must meet their needs exactly by fostering their trust with the products that you promise to deliver. Never compromise the quality of your products!
Establish a two-way connection with your customers and listen to what they have to say
This, perhaps, is the second most important thing after providing the products of the highest quality. It is absolutely essential for your e-commerce business to be responsive to your customers’ quests and be quick to react to their messages.
In the world of social media, it is particularly important to always be in touch with your customers as your competitors are right behind you ready to steal your customers the second you fail to give them your attention in a timely manner.
When it comes to e-commerce, businesses need to realize that customers want to be a part of the company they shop at. The sense of belonging is something that is required to be present, yet is rather difficult to obtain without a physical presence in the lives of customers.
However, if you manage to assure your customers that their opinion matters and their voices are heard, you will be more likely to get their loyalty.
It is proven that customers are more likely to become returning customers if they feel a certain type of connection with the e-commerce brand. One of the best ways to do that is by establishing a personalized approach to each and every single one of your customers. This could take a lot of forms starting from asking them to register with your platform and subsequently sending them out personalized emails, to embedding personalized greetings to your website, to even employing the appropriate algorithms that would compile personalized lists of recommendations aimed specifically at the customers. All of that would create a closer connection between you and your customers and will lay the foundation for a long-lasting bond. Building empathy can have a strong impact on the levels of loyalty, and make your customers be more reluctant to purchase elsewhere since they feel this personal connection with your business.
Another way of personalizing your customers’ e-commerce experience is by providing them with reliable and timely support. If your e-commerce company has chat operators (especially if those are real people and not chatbots) ready to help your customers, they will feel much more appreciated and therefore be inclined to shop with you again. Just keep in mind that the quality of the aforementioned communication needs to be good. This implies that this strategy works best when the customers receive appropriate and useful replies to the questions they ask and are assisted throughout their shopping journey.
At last but not at least, you need to pay close attention to your social media marketing strategies and the way they are managed. Nowadays, social media presence is an important factor that affects the levels of customer loyalty to an e-commerce brand. You need to create a bond with your customers and make them believe there is a person behind that brand so they would be more enthusiastic about working with your brand.
Reward their loyalty to your e-commerce business
Another great way of ensuring your customers stay loyal to you is by rewarding their loyalty. This might seem like a pretty cliché statement, but people like it when their commitment is recognized. So why not play on this little peculiarity and turn it into your advantage. Retaining customers is much easier if you offer something in return for their loyalty to your e-commerce brand.
In fact, loyalty programs within e-commerce businesses and non-ecommerce businesses are not that different and follow the same pattern: the business recognizes returning customers through offering them particular perks not available to those customers who are not loyal to the business. However, there are, indeed, several ways in which that could be arranged.
Overall, the bottom line of any loyalty program is to stimulate customers to come back to the e-commerce business as often and as consistently as possible. This could mean offering better deals to those who shop more or stay longer with the brand. The most popular ways of doing that include the following:
1. Giving your returning customers discounts
The good old discounting program is a classic within the world of loyalty programs. It has existed for a long time and has proven to be effective in both the e-commerce world and the real-life business world. The principle of work of discounting is extremely easy. You simply encourage your customers to return to your brand by offering them discounts on subsequent purchases.
This, however, is not the most revolutionary approach to rewarding your loyal customers. To an extent, this is rather useless as it promotes discounts to the customers that are already likely to buy the products and therefore it does not really create more customer loyalty. This implies that this method alone will not be as effective as it could potentially be combined with some other methods.
2. Creating exclusive experiences for your loyal customers
A bit more innovative way of rewarding your customers for their loyalty (that still falls into the previous point’s pattern) is by making some exclusive offers to them. These can be as generous or as humble as you wish, but they will do the trick.
By allowing your customers to draw some benefits from staying with you, you will encourage them to come back to your e-commerce business.
3. Put a time limit on the rewards they can collect
Another important thing to ensure your customers stay loyal to your brand and shop regularly is by making the rewards they can collect time-restricted. For instance, if you put a time limit on it, they will be likely to come back to you earlier than sooner, even if that does not really align with their schedule or plans.
Referring to your brand is one of the most powerful ways in which you can raise your e-commerce business loyalty
At last but not at least, in the modern world, it is essential that you remember that customers want to feel like they are contributing towards the brand they shop with. You need to remember that interacting with your customers online and letting them do the same is a huge step on the way to customer loyalty.
Even if your interaction is not strictly framed by the process of purchasing and rather involves your customers referring you to their friends or simply tagging people in your posts, this will increase your levels of engagement with them and lead to better recognition.
Moreover, if you create a system of perks for referring your e-commerce brand to their circle of friends, you will gain their respect as they could feel like a part of your brand by introducing your business.
Be relevant and useful
Sometimes customer loyalty is not about making sales at all. Sometimes it is simply about remembering about your brand and keeping it in mind until the time to make the purchase comes next. Therefore, it is essential that you create this long-lasting relationship between you and your customers to the point when you serve them even when they are not actively buying anything from you.
One of the best ways of doing so is to engage your audience with helpful content related to your industry. You can launch a blog that would reflect on all the latest trends in your e-commerce company’s sphere and would be a great addition to your primary platform. Moreover, content posting can increase new leads as well as secure the already existing ones. So it is definitely a ‘kill two birds with one stone’ type of situation!
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Lilian O’Brien is a passionate journalist who enjoys writing about psychology and human relationships. Over the course of her career, she was a regular contributor to major media publications, and currently, she serves as an editor for onlinechatdatingsites.com.