In 2017, retail holiday season sales in the United States totaled over $1 trillion; and Deloitte predicts this year’s total will go even higher. Deloitte also predicted that U.S. ecommerce sales alone would reach $134 billion in 2018. That’s a rise of 22 percent over the previous year.
Related: 6 Ways to Retain Ecommerce Customers
For Shopify store owners, the peak shopping season represents an opportunity to boost revenues and win over new customers. While gaining new customers is a key component to a successful business, studies have shown that retaining them is a far more effective strategy.
Amy Gallo from the Harvard Business Reviewpointed out how effective: “Increasing customer retention rates by 5 oercent increases profits by 25 percent to 95 percent” (depending on the industry),” Gallo wrote.
And, according to Khalid Saleh at Invesp, “it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one.”
All of these figures mean that the peak shopping season is not only the perfect opportunity to win over new customers, but also to build long-term loyalty. As Matthew Draper from Liferay has noted, “The average repeat buyer spends 33 percent more than a new customer.”
So, if retaining customers leads to a higher return on investment, and a potential increase in profits, how should you prepare your business to boost this desired retention?
Acquire your customers — the right way.
When a visitor comes to your site for the first time, it’s essential that you offer him or her a positive impression. The average conversion rate of ecommerce sites stands at just under 3 percent. But, as a Shopify store, you could do better than that by using a tool like GrooveJar to boost your conversion rates.
GrooveJar allows you to create customizable pop-ups, triggered when the customer takes specific actions, like scrolling or hovering over the “back” button.
You might think pop-ups are annoying, but they work. As one Aweber test found, pop-ups in one study led to 1,375 percent more email signups on one site than did a sidebar. If you too employed pop-ups, you would be able to send targeted, personalized content to your subscribers. Remember, email can be one of the most effective forms of marketing, often generating an ROI of $44 for every $1 spent, according to Campaign Monitor’s 2016 Year in Review.
Use live chat to improve customer service.
As Shopify’s Alex McEachern told me, “Customers see fast, friendly and consistent service as the gold standard.” For ecommerce stores, offering live chat via a tool like Tidio is one way to quickly and effectively respond to customer queries.
Whether the customer is talking to a real person or a bot, live chat tools have been proven to drive up sales at ecommerce stores. By engaging with people in real time and resolving their issues, you could impress customers enough that 52 percent of them might make another purchase at your store (according to a Campaign Monitor study).
The one caveat is that you need to ensure your live chat features are personalized and truly resolve customer issues.
Personalize your products.
Most successful ecommerce businesses embrace personalization to some degree. Given that 48 percent of customers — according to a MyBuys survey — spend more online after a personalized experience, you should be embracing some of the more useful personalization tools available to you.
One way of getting ahead of your competitors is to offer customers the chance to personalize their products. Tools like ShopStorm’s Product Customizer enable you to do this. It could prove particularly handy during the holiday season, as shoppers look to add a personal touch to gifts for loved ones. By taking personalization to the next level, you can deliver a more memorable experience for your customers.
Engage customers with user-generated content.
“People don’t actually connect with your brand; they connect with the other people that connect to your brand,” said Mariel Bacci, director at BVAccel, a brand consultancy based in San Diego. Her words were a healthy reminder of the value of community, whether the term describes your niche, products or brand. In order to build affinity of any type, you need to enable your customers to connect with one another.
So, encourage your customers to create content on your site and to engage with your forums, social media and blogs.
Product reviews are one such form of user-generated content. There’s plenty of evidence to support the claim that product reviews, including “better reviews,” are the number one factor driving customers toward higher-priced products. As a business, you should engage with customers who leave product reviews, particularly negative ones.
By being proactive and sincere, you’ll be giving yourself the chance to resolve that negative reviewer’s issue — and show that resolution publicly.
Then, even if you don’t manage to solve an individual case, other customers will see you care and feel more confident about making purchases from you.
Enable customers to build wishlists.
For ecommerce stores, wishlists can be invaluable marketing tools. Without customers actually making a purchase, you can build a picture of their thoughts and interests. You can then use this information to refine your content marketing strategy.
Wishlists also allow you to alert customers to restocked products or special offers. By offering this service, you will be improving your customer retention rate and revenue. Wishl Favorites Wishlist is an example of one such Shopify tool you can use with your store.
There’s no secret to customer retention. As happens with any retail scenario, it comes down to providing excellent customer service. In this digital age, it can be easy to fall into the trap of simply providing an online shop and letting automation take care of everything. But don’t do that, because today’s shoppers are tech-savvy and fully aware of the choices available to them. They will turn away from an impersonal shopping experience and know when a store isn’t up to standard.
For this holiday season, take your store to the next level by focusing on retaining new customers. Use the latest tools and technology to deliver peerless customer service, and you’ll be reaping the rewards well beyond January 2019.