Turning One-Time Buyers into Return Customers


Alice Berg
Guest Contributor

With the costs of acquiring new shoppers – both online and in-store – skyrocketing, retaining first-time customers as loyal, returning shoppers is proving essential for a brand’s retailing success.

On any day, you need many return customers for your retailing business to thrive. A report by Bain & Company concluded that the average repeat buyer spends 67 percent more on a specific business over time; thus, bringing to light the significance of paying particular attention to this customer segment. That said, what exactly makes repeat consumers so profitable?

  • They are more likely to shop with you repeatedly.
  • It is easier to sell to a return buyer.
  • They spend more during the busy season.
  • Repeat shoppers market your business to a broader demographic.
  • They spend more each time they purchase from you.

As a retail merchant, you can implement various strategies to ensure you convert a good number of visiting shoppers to repeat customers. In this post, I have handpicked eight best practices you can implement right away.

Keep Communicating with Customers

Shoppers with an emotional connection to a brand have a 306 percent better lifetime value than customers who are simply satisfied upon interacting with a particular business. Therefore, you need to go out of your way to ensure you build strong relationships with all new customers. One way you can achieve this without much hassle is by keeping in touch with your customers.

Make a point of informing your customers about promotions, special sales, appointments and so forth. You can also send out personalized messages such as happy birthday emails/texts, etc. Doing this shows you are keen on being with them throughout their journey, thus eventually increasing your repeat clients.

Develop a Loyalty Program

According to an InMoment report, 61 percent of loyal buyers will do whatever it takes to shop from their preferred brands. Also, 60 percent of a company’s existing customers will frequently purchase while 50 percent will buy more products. Now, from these statistics, it is easy to see that customer loyalty is right for any business.

So, what can you do to boost consumer loyalty? Create and implement a rewards program. Aside from getting customers to stick around, such programs provide a brand with useful data highlighting customer spending habits that enable merchants to personalize their approach when marketing directly to customers.

It is necessary to combine loyalty programs with customized marketing because 77 percent of customers opine that rewards ought to be personalized. You can manage and implement customer loyalty programs using dedicated SMS service providers.

Also, it is essential to understand your customer base to ensure you run effective loyalty programs. For instance, 66 percent of millennials prefer an element of surprise and interactivity in these programs, compared to only 33 percent of Baby Boomers.

All reward programs should be provided on an opt-in basis. Customers always want to feel they have control.

Practice Word of Mouth Marketing

Just how useful is word of mouth advertising? A staggering 90 percent of people trust and purchase from brands recommended by friends. Today, word of mouth is more than merely informing someone about a specific product or service; it’s more of an approval.

When your existing customers post something about your service, it is important to comment on the same. These messages show you appreciate them and they will be more willing to share their experiences with others both online and in-person. Now, even if one person does this, they will at least help you attract a new customer.

Retain Customers by Implementing Multi-Channel Distribution

Today’s customers do not always interact with brand’s first-party online presence when shopping. “About 86 percent of online shoppers purchase through channels other than the specific e-commerce stores. A buyer’s journey may commence upon seeing a post on Instagram, Facebook or Tweet that stirs their interest,” says Andrew Ortiz, Marketing Specialist at Skillroads.  

In this world of severe digitalization and never ending switching on- and offline, a majority of shoppers feel a great need to interact in real life with the products they are intending to buy. A study conducted by RetailDive indicates that 56 percent of shoppers touch and feel products in stores before buying them online.

So, be sure to provide different ways for previewing, researching, and purchasing of products if you want to convert one-time shoppers to regulars. Doing this makes it easy for your customers to find your store in the future for more business.

You can promote your business on various platforms, for instance, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and so forth. After that, customers will see your thriving business on a variety of sources and thus be more inclined to do business with you.

Win Customers Over by Telling the Story of Your Brand

Branding is all about the image a business imprints on the minds and hearts of customers. All buyers want to purchase from brands that share their core values and world views. So, you could start by sharing your mission, vision and basically any other thing your business is all about. Doing this is essential given that about 64 percent of surveyed consumers say having shared values with particular brands is the main reason they stick with them.

When branding, it pays to be careful. You need to stay true to all religious, social and other convictions you align yourself with. Also, you need to be consistent to give your brand power. Do not try to play for opposing sides by saying this to one customer and that to another. Doing this is sure to alienate both.

Retain Your Customers by Following Up

Keeping in touch with your customers after interacting with them is a sure way of winning repeat buyers. You could follow up in say two weeks after purchase to inquire if they are satisfied with your products and to solve any problems they might be facing with your items.

You can keep up with customers via email or text message as per their liking. For instance, an Open Market survey concluded that 75 percent of people between the ages of 18 to 34 would opt for a text-only instead of voice-only communication. However, no matter the channel you use, the point is to ensure you provide your customers with an interactive experience.

Also, try to make your follow-ups worthwhile by using them to cross-sell or up-sell. Aside from that, you can use them to set up new appointments.

Provide a Good Experience to Your Customers

The customer experience (CX) is paramount to driving purchases. CX is expected to outdo both product and price by 2020 in regards to being the key brand differentiator. As such, improving your CX should go top of your priority list if you are to reap the benefits of repeat business. Adopting a customer retention strategy that enhances CX extends way beyond excellent service and encompasses issues such as:

  • Payment options provided by your store
  • Return policy
  • Shipping and/or delivery
  • The speed of finding products

Being a store owner, you ought to ensure all the above issues are straightforward. Customers are prone to avoiding complicated processes and systems. So, make it easy for them to get information about your store, find and purchase products, and return them when necessary.

Get Repeat Customers by Using Social Proof

Your social proof stems from testimonials, reviews and case studies. With good proof, you eliminate the fear in your customers’ minds whenever they want to purchase from you.

As a merchant, it is essential to request content from your customers. See, while they write their reviews or testimonials, they will be re-engaging with you, thus making them more likely to become your loyal customers.

Final Thoughts

Keeping in mind that retaining customers is more fruitful and less straining on your company’s budget, converting first-time customers is essential for a brand’s success. However, it is of utter importance to evolve and adjust your marketing strategies in accordance with our continuously developing world. So, if you were trying traditional methods, it would be a smart decision to shove them aside and implement the excellent strategies highlighted in this post. With time, your business will bond with and eventually convert lots of customers.

About the writer: Alice Berg is a blogger and a career advisor from Bath, UK. She helps people to find their own way in life, gives career advice and guidance, and helps young people to prepare for their careers. You can find Alice on Twitter and Medium.  

Join the #retail, #SmartStore & #ConnectedJourney conversations on Twitter @RetailNext, as well as at www.facebook.com/retailnext.