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12 Ways to Retain Online Customers in eCommerce


By Agop Ashjian, CEO of Shipup 

In recent years it has been harder than ever before for brands to retain online customers. eCommerce is an incredibly saturated market with new brands and platforms emerging constantly. It is giving consumers more choice and making it easier for them to switch from one brand to another.

Coupled with the fact that online shoppers are accustomed to high levels of customer service –  fast shipping, easy returns and personalised offerings – failing to meet these expectations can mean ‘goodbye’ to one brand and ‘hello’ to another.

I’ve seen firsthand the ways a comprehensive post-purchase strategy can improve eCommerce customer retention, and below is a guide to help brands keep shoppers and turn them into lifelong customers. 

1. Personalised Communication

Personalisation is the name of the game in 2024. All big brands do it and, if you’re not, then it’s likely you’ll be left in the dust. Our survey found that 72% of eCommerce shoppers are more likely to return to a brand if their experience is tailored to them. Use customers’ preferred communication channels to send personalised messages post-purchase based on your brand’s needs and unique features. Tailoring messages to customers makes them feel valued and understood which only serves to encourage repeat business. 

2. Use Branded Tracking Pages 

You’d be surprised at the number of brands we encounter that don’t use personalised tracking pages. They are so easy to use and host on a brand’s website, providing a perfect opportunity to display promotional messages and product recommendations. Ensuring these pages appear polished and branded with logos, fonts and colours shows customers that your brand is the real deal. 

3. Post-Purchase Emails

Post-purchase emails can be a powerful tool for retaining customers. You just need to know how to use them. They should be more than just order confirmations; emails should engage customers and encourage further interaction with the brand. Include upselling and cross-selling opportunities, personalised product recommendations and engaging content that keeps your brand top-of-mind. 

Courir, a leading French sneakers brand, put this into action and saw a 60% open rate for personalised post-purchase emails, triple the industry average. By leveraging Shipup’s proactive post-purchase solution, their customer contact rate dropped to 4%, half the sector average.

4. Leverage Promotional Messages

Use post-purchase touchpoints to showcase irresistible promotions. Whether it’s through tracking pages or email notifications, promotional messages can drive additional sales and reinforce customer loyalty. Highlight special offers, discounts or limited-time deals to entice customers to make another purchase.

5. Slide Into Their DMs with SMS Notifications

SMS notifications provide a direct and immediate way to communicate with customers. Use SMS to send real-time updates about order status, delivery times and any potential delays. This proactive approach keeps customers informed and reassured, reducing anxiety and increasing satisfaction.

6. Update Shoppers with Real-Time Alerts 

We know that 85% of shoppers will not purchase from an online retailer again after a negative delivery experience. Real-time alerts are essential for managing customer expectations and turning a negative experience into a positive one. Whether it’s a shipping delay or a change in delivery status, customers appreciate being kept in the loop and timely notifications help maintain transparency and trust. 

7. All Feedback is Good Feedback

Automate the collection of customer feedback post-purchase to gain valuable insights and address any issues promptly. Send satisfaction surveys via email upon delivery, allowing customers to rate their experience, add comments and even attach photos of any issues. This proactive approach shows customers that their opinions matter and helps prevent negative reviews.

8. Personalised Product Recommendations

Send content that aligns with the customer’s interests and previous purchases. On order tracking pages and notifications, include how-to guides, product care tips and complimentary accessories that are relevant to their recent purchase. Personalised recommendations not only enhance the customer experience but also drive repeat business by showing customers that you understand and cater to their unique preferences.

9. Carrier Optimisation and Monitor Customer Data

Collect and analyse data from both customers and carriers to improve your post-purchase strategy. Understanding customer behaviour and carrier performance helps you make informed decisions and optimise the delivery experience. Use this data to negotiate better terms with carriers and tailor your communications to meet customer needs.

10. Master the Art of Returns 

A seamless return process is critical for customer retention. We know that 79% of shoppers are  unlikely to shop with a retailer again after a bad returns experience, so ensure your return policies are clear, easy to find and hassle-free. Offer a variety of returns options – not just refunds – ranging from exchanges to store credit, to make the returns experience as smooth as possible all while keeping money in the bank. 

11. Hold Carriers Accountable

Hold your carriers accountable for their performance. Monitor their delivery times, accuracy and handling of packages. If issues arise, address them promptly and work with your carriers to ensure they meet your standards. An objective overview of your carrier performance is essential for renegotiating contracts with carriers to maintain customer satisfaction and loyalty.

12. Build a Community with an Engaging Post-Purchase Strategy

Harness high-engagement post-purchase order tracking pages, as well as email notifications, to build your community. Post-purchase emails enjoy an open rate of around 60% – 2 times the average for eCommerce brands. Make the most of this engagement to build social awareness. Include User-Generated Content (UGC), encourage customers to tag you in social media posts to win prizes, and display your social media handles. Creating a sense of community not only retains customers but turns them into brand ambassadors.

A robust post-purchase strategy is vital for retaining online customers in today’s competitive landscape. By keeping these tips front of mind, brands can turn a shambolic customer service into one that boosts retention, drives repeat business and ensures your brand stands out in a crowded market.

Image above and top: pexels.com, profile image: Agop Ashjian, CEO of Shipup 

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