Tony O'Connor, Loyalty Expert
Tony O'Connor Loyalty Expert
8 minute Read • 15 Jun 2021

Why repeat customers are the key to the long-term success of your webshop

When it comes to connecting with your customers, both webshops and physical stores have their own strengths and weaknesses.

In some ways keeping track of customers is easier with a webshop. You have access to a world of real-time data showing you visits, clicks and cart-tracking. You can compile this data into graphs and track trends with a couple of clicks on a mouse. 

The only trouble is that your customers tend to be customer numbers and unique identifiers. Depending on your registration process, they may have a gender, an age and a location - which is sometimes more than a physical store owner might have - but you can’t exactly look them in the eyes.

In other ways, physical store owners find it much easier. Sure, they have very little data to work with, but they can physically see customers as they move around the shop. The customer might pick up a product, look at it, smile, then see the price and put it down. That tells the shop owner far more than you can ever learn from online data.

So, with no way of judging emotional cues, or body language to off - how can you try to create more return customers for your webshop?

Here are a few things you might want to consider:

 

Are return customers really that important?

You probably already know the answer to this, but just in case, let me spell it out as clearly as I can. YES! Yes. A hundred times Yes. 

Return customers not only make up a bigger percentage of your profit, but they tend to spend more each visit - and tell more people about your business via word-of-mouth.

Ok, now that’s cleared up, let’s look at how you can turn casual customers into return customers.

 

Your webshop customers are real people with hopes and dreams

As we already mentioned, there is a whole world of metrics out there you can analyse. Everything from likehits to roll-overs, click-throughs and a thousand other things. And while this information can be useful, it can also be a trap.  

What you should be looking to do is build a sense of trust, and there are some techniques you can try to do this. For starters, try and add an element of your own personality into the copy you write on your site. It doesn’t have to be much, but the odd ‘Oops, we’re sold out’ or ‘Hello [Name], good to see you again’ can go a long, long way to breaking down the digital wall.

Also, don’t be afraid to be honest. In the corporate world, companies are terrified of telling the truth, but real people tend to love it. After all, what could possibly be more human than openly admitting a flaw. It’s what separates us from the machines.

 

Keep one eye on your competition

This is possibly something you’re already doing, but it’s worth repeating because it can be a very valuable source for finding incremental improvements to your own site. 

Visit your closest competitors as one of their customers. Click on lots of things. Test everything. Follow random links. Subscribe to lists. Try your best to find things that are broken.

There will be some things they are doing better than you are, and you can use those for inspiration. Other aspects will be a step-down from what you offer, so you can look at emphasising them more on your site. Pretend you;re a sponge and soak up as much information as you can. It’ll all help you build a site that encourages more return customers. 

 

Good design is simple and functional

A lot of webshops out there consider their website to be like a physical store. So they put up all sorts of decorations to make it look more interesting. The problem is that in real life, decorations don’t take time to load, and they don’t get in the way of the actual shopping. 

Online shoppers are essentially on an information search - so they want to see a website that conveys the information they’re looking for quickly and with a minimum of fuss.

When it comes to driving return customers this is an important point to keep in mind. Do you think a customer is going to return because it’s easy to find and order what they’re looking for? Or because they will get to see that quirky animation one more time? 

Hint: It’s not the quirky animation. 

 

Find a way to measure customer retention - and customer satisfaction 

It’s incredibly easy to measure almost everything in our digital world - but some measurements are a lot more important than others. One of the most important measurements you can make is splitting your regular customers and your one-time customers into two groups - and then trying to work out why?

Start with looking at behaviour differences while they’re on your site. Was there a particular aspect that one group favoured, or avoided over other aspects? This should give you an idea of the things you are doing well, and the things you are doing not-so-well.

Another way to help determine this is by conducting some old-fashioned customer research, in the form of surveys. Again, feel free to add a little bit of your own personality to the way you write the invitation and the surveys - and don’t be afraid to try and make the process a little bit entertaining. You’ll find the number of customers who take part will increase a lot. 

None of these recommendations are particularly ground-breaking but in combination they can help you learn a lot about how your customers view your business - and how valuable their loyalty is. 

 

Give your customers a reason to return

Another trap that webshop owners fall into is trying to use gimmicks or tricks to try and get customers to return. Extravagant sales messages that only apply to a few items is one particularly annoying tactic.

Yes, you might get click-throughs and visits - but you’re not going to be getting any return visits by acting like that.

A different approach is to attempt to be genuinely useful. For example, if someone clicks on an item that is out of stock, give them the chance to leave their email address so you can notify them when the product is back in stock.

Then, when you do have the item again, send them a quick, informative email letting them know - and guess what? You’ve got a returning customer, probably made an easy sale, and you can possibly look forward to more sales.

This is how successful webshops keep on going through even the most challenging times. Being useful, being respectful towards the customer relationship. 

 

Think before you advertise

There’s an old saying in the advertising industry - ‘The worst thing you can do for a bad product... is a good ad’. That’s because creating demand for an inferior product simply serves to highlight its flaws and create negative sentiment.

This is even more true for webshops. As you can imagine, spending money on an advertising campaign and generating thousands of visitors, who are then unimpressed with your site, probably means that they will never visit again.

And that also means that the next advertising campaign will cost you even more for each click.

A more sensible approach is to spend the time and money required to make sure every aspect of your webshop is finely-tuned towards one single objective - generating more return customers.

Then, once you’re happy with how everything works, start your advertising campaigns.

It may mean that sales are slower than you would like in the short-term, but in the long-run you’ll definitely come out on top.

 

View every new transaction as the start of a relationship

Successful online entrepreneurs are always looking at the bigger picture. A bigger picture that assumes every customer has the potential to become a regular customer. A bigger picture that applies much more weight to the LifeTime Value of a customer over the next few years, rather than trying to squeeze them for an extra few Euros today.

Another way to help build your repeat-customer base is to join an existing loyalty platform. Modern loyalty platforms use smart-software systems that allow you to offer rewards, automatically collect data - and easily create professional-looking marketing campaigns.

There are lots of options online - however if you want to learn more about Piggy, you can arrange a personal demo with one of our Loyalty Experts by clicking here.

A loyalty platform wont suddenly deliver thousands of new customers overnight, but over time it can help you exponentially grow your customer-base and your revenue streams.

And ultimately that’s the entire point of customer retention - long-term success. 

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