It’s hard to convert a visitor into a customer…
But once you do, if you treat that customer right, it is pretty easy to RETAIN that customer – if, and only if, you treat them right.
Consistency and great customer service will cultivate e-commerce customer loyalty. In this post, we show you 5 insanely fast ways to thrill your customers and grow your customer base!
#1 Fool-Proof Shipping Rules
Let’s face it – we as consumers have been spoiled by the #1 e-commerce store, Amazon. We loved the free-shipping-over-a-certain-amount rule and came to expect quick delivery. Although we all want to be spoiled by every e-commerce store, we shop owners know it’s not always financially feasible.
But don’t let that discourage you!
Find out what works best for your company’s margins and offer a deal to your customers. Most people want to avoid paying shipping costs because it adds to their overall cost but doesn’t add value.
Take this customer behavior and use it to your advantage!
Many stores, like Amazon, have free shipping over a certain amount, which not only helps with converting customers, but also helps increase the average dollar amount spent. Approximately 60% of online stores state that offering free shipping with conditions is their most successful marketing tool. A great combination could be a flat rate plus free shipping policy. For instance: Look at the t-shirt retailer below that not only has a great shipping policy of free shipping on orders over $35, but also has a flat shipping rate of $5 on orders under $35.
Another great aspect of this Shopify store is that the shipping policy is displayed prominently at the top for customers to see throughout their shopping journey, which adds to the customer experience[AS1].
This way, with a simple glance at the top of the page, customers can easily calculate how much they would be paying for shipping or how far away they are from free shipping.
If you want to go the extra mile, offer free returns too. This would both help increase e-commerce customer loyalty and give some visitors the incentive they need to buy something from your store for the first time.
- Take a few hours to figure out your margins on your products. Also, calculate the average shipping cost in your country.
o Figure out the dollar amount above which you can offer free shipping to your visitors.
o If possible, offer free returns as well.
o If you already offer free shipping, make sure that it is visible in the top header of your website or at least on every product page.
o Offering flat shipping on anything below your free shipping amount will help you gain customers too.
- See if you qualify or if you can negotiate for special shipping rates with your shipping providers. USPS, UPS & FedEx may have discounted rates for small businesses and e-commerce companies.
#2 Improve Customer Service
In the real world, if you couldn’t find a retail associate to check out your items or if they were rude to you, then you would probably leave the store and never come back. Another offense would be trying to return an item within the store return policy but being rejected.
Well these are situations that turn off buyers in online stores as well as physical retail shops.
Improving your e-commerce customer experience[AS1] thereby gaining customer loyalty is something that is easily overlooked and neglected. It is one of those details of running a business that isn’t brought to your attention unless a customer is mad enough to send you a message through e-mail, live chat, or sometimes even social media.
It can be frustrating for both the customer and the e-commerce store, but what can you do ahead of time to dispel a situation before things come to a head?
Empower your customers to solve the problem on their own!
Clear and visible policies, descriptive product information, multiple product photos and videos, robust FAQs, and intelligent chatbots can all assist customers in finding answers to their questions before they contact your business through phone, live chat, or e-mail. This will all help your business improve both e-commerce customer loyalty and the experience of your visitors and customers.
Having enough customer service agents on hand to deal with the volume of tickets generated by a poorly-designed site will seriously cut into your business’s budget. By improving the resources available to customers on your site, you can reduce the amount of human interaction required, which can help your business save money and time.
- Update your FAQs if necessary.
- Place clear and concise signs of your store’s policies in visible places throughout the site.
- Find ways to make it easy for customers to get answers to their questions instantly such as using live chat or chatbots [AS2].
#3 Social Proof
When was the last time you bought an item online without seeing any reviews? I bet you can’t even remember. At the very least, you would be sure to seek out a review of the company or even check out their social media profiles.
Social proof is HUGE these days.
A whopping 88% of consumers check reviews when making purchases. Consumers have become used to e-commerce stores with product ratings, written reviews, and even video reviews to judge whether a product is the right one for their needs.
Companies even reward customers with coupons, gift cards, products, or social media fame to entice them into writing reviews because they know how valuable customer reviews are to their bottom line.
Creating a social proof strategy can be a simple yet effective way to gain more reviews and trust for the products you sell in your online store.
Here is a quick social proof strategy to jumpstart the review process:
- Use automatic e-mail follow-ups to prompt recent customers to leave a review. Send the e-mail 10-15 days after purchase to allow them some time to experience the product.
o Many e-commerce stores, such as Magento and Shopify, have this option built into their platform so business owners don’t even have to think about it.
- If your company is active on social media, tell users to contact your business’s social media account with a picture of themselves, the product, and a short one or two sentence review.
o State that the post will be shared on the company’s social media profile and on the website.
- Keep track of the new reviews and social shares manually or with tools such as Sprout Social.
#4 Simple Returns and Exchanges
The worst customer experience for most people is when something goes wrong. They ordered the wrong size, the product quality isn’t to their liking, the couch doesn’t fit with their décor, etc. Whatever the reason, the customer doesn’t want it and wants their money back.
E-commerce returns and exchanges shouldn’t be looked at as a problem. They should be looked at as an opportunity to win customer loyalty for life!
This is your moment to SHINE.
It’s easy to be a great shop when everything goes smoothly, but in a moment of chaos, your store has the opportunity to showcase itself above the rest!
You don’t have to be Nordstrom’s former infamous return policy to give amazing customer service when things go wrong. A clear return policy listed front and center in your store’s FAQs, product pages, and at checkout would be helpful for anyone before they buy from your store.
According to InvespCRO, at least 30% of products ordered online are returned compared to only approximately 9% for physical retail stores.
Now before you change your return policy to “no returns,” the same study found 92% of consumers will buy something again if the returns are easy!
Since it costs 5+ times as much to obtain a new e-commerce customer than to keep an existing one, that is huge for your bottom line and for keeping the e-commerce customer loyal to your online store.
Since 62% of consumers state their returns result from a mistake by the retailer, (arrived damaged, the wrong item shipped, etc.) most of the customers returning the product would feel slighted again if the return policy weren’t hassle-free. Finally, 81% of shoppers want simple and free shipping returns, and 49% of e-commerce stores offer free returns.
- To make a hassle-free return policy:
o Make the policy easily accessible or visible before the customer purchases the product.
o Give customers at least 30 days from the shipment-received date.
o Allow customers to easily return items through your website (order lookup, print return receipt, instructions on how and where to mail the item back).
o If possible, give free returns.
#5 E-mail Marketing
Email marketing can make or break an online store. Nothing says customer satisfaction like getting a discount on an item.
And nothing can make an online store owner happier than to set up a promotion, schedule the e-mail release, and watch the orders pour in.
Following up with visitors and past customers is still important today, and all top e-commerce stores, as well as many of the small and mid-size stores, entice visitors to give them their e-mail address so that they can market to the visitor again and again.
Creating an e-mail marketing strategy is a win-win: it can give your company a boost in monthly revenue and increase your e-commerce customer loyalty. If you haven’t started any promotions yet, start with the simple plan below.
If you already have an e-mail marketing campaign strategy, make sure it is consistently scheduled and A/B-test subject lines, graphics, content, and more to optimize your campaign for click-throughs and sales.
- Use an e-mail marketing campaign software such as MailChimp or GetResponse to gather e-mails and send campaigns.
- Create a popup or a banner on your website that offers a coupon to entice visitors to give up their e-mail address.
- Start sending a promotion each month to your list with percentages off a few products or a dollar amount off of a purchase. For instance, “save $10 off all orders over $50.00” coupon.
a. Tuesday and Wednesday mornings (10:00 am EST) is a great time to send promotional e-mails. Test out different send times for your store. Just changing this small detail could increase your sales results.
b. Resend to people on the list that didn’t open the e-mail a few days or a week later.
c. Track all results from the campaign. Reports can be easily created in most online store coupon and e-mail marketing campaign software statistics. Test ways to improve on the results with different promotions in the following months.
Improving e-commerce customer loyalty isn’t a want to…it’s a MUST to ensure your e-commerce store is continuously filled with orders.
A smooth warehouse and logistics process or a drop shipping process will help your store work like a well-oiled machine, with orders coming into the website store and products going out to your customers.
Increasing e-commerce customer loyalty isn’t hard once you implement a system to work for you. Embracing technology such as e-mail marketing programs, chatbots, automated return processes, and more will help reduce your stress level and push the business to achieve profitability for a very long time.