As seen through the eyes of someone who actually buys stuff online

I have piled up 5 eCommerce Retention strategies to help guys/gals like you (eCommerce managers, that is) draw in and *keep* gals (and guys) like me.

But let me start with this, though: I’m guilty as charged.

I’m a huge, monstrous eCommerce consumer.

I buy everything online, except for grocery (mostly because pushing the cart around the supermarket, waiting in line and carrying the bags up for three whole floors has its joys).

Aside from that, every single item I own is ordered online – and please take into consideration I live about 15 minutes away from a pretty big mall (15 minutes of walking, mind you).

To me, actually shopping in a mall is absolutely horrifying. I rarely find what I want/ need, I always end up lost, and I almost never want to go back.

In fact, my eCommerce *cough, cough* passion is so huge that I only go to the mall for banking issues after 6 pm and food (this happens quite rarely too, because, surprise, surprise, I order food online as well).

So, what makes me an eCommerce consumer – and, most importantly, what makes me stick to specific online stores (because, yup, of course, I have my favorites)?

Read more below.

#1 Nail Customer Service

I cannot even begin to express just how much Customer Service means to me.

To give you a hint, though, I’ll just say I’m happy to pay more for a product if I know the store’s Customer Support Service will:

  • Help me (e.g. if I request the product to be shipped on Saturdays);
  • Actually, answer the phone/ emails;
  • Do the above promptly;
  • Be polite – those please and thank you’s your mom talked about? Yeah, those. They matter a lot.

A good Customer Service team will actually sway me to buy from one store, as opposed to another – and I’ve been known to ask for refunds and order cancellations just because I wasn’t on par with the store’s Customer Service (don’t judge, please – I’m a digital marketer, but I’m a consumer as well).

As a crazy Millennial, I like it when things go my way – but, in all honesty, I like it, even more, when my orders are fulfilled with the help of a Customer Support Service I can deal with (and who can bear with my anxiety and questions too). On that note, I want to thank all the amazing Customer Support Specialists I’ve given nightmares to over the years – I’m sorry for being the most awful customer in existence, you were amazing.

#2 Make It Easy for People to Come Back

Let’s say you find this really pretty necklace on a site you’ve never heard of before. It doesn’t even matter where you found the site: it may have been one of the bling-blings on the right side of your Facebook’s Home Page, or you may have Googled “pretty pink cat necklaces”.

Let’s say you do place an order on this store, make that necklace a gift for a friend you rarely see, and then completely forget about it.

How will that store make sure you don’t forget them?

There are some ways to do that:

  • A great, UX designed website that’s memorable;
  • Personalizing the website experience according to weather, time of the day, or other parameters that will help you connect to your visitors and make your store memorable in their minds;
  • Make user accounts easy to create (which will make it easier for you to keep customers up to date with the latest discounts);
  • Asking users to subscribe to your newsletter (in conformity with the GDPR, of course 🙂 );
  • Offer discounts for return customers.

…And many others. These are just some of the most popular ways to make your site, well, unforgettable. Just make sure you’re not unforgettably annoying by spamming users with ads and emails everywhere they turn.

#3 Create buying behavior segmentation (RFM Analysis)

My wonderful, lovely, super-hyperactive colleague, Anca Sandu, wrote a very interesting article on how the RFM model can help eCommerce segment their customers and another absolutely awesome one on how we built an automated model to get the burden of number crunching off your shoulders.

In very short terms, the RFM model stands for Recency, Frequency, and Monetary Value – and it helps you analyze and segment your customers according to their buying behavior. Traditionally, you’d do this semi-manually (Hello, spreadsheets, my old friends) – but we created an automated RFM model you can implement as a Magento extension and have all that juicy data and segmentation readily available along with some pretty good actionable insights.

Because we’re huge romantics, we segmented customers according to the different types of love relationships, so once you install this find your store’s Don Juans (customers ready to dump you for the next shiny site), former lovers (customers who used to buy from you, but now they’ve moved on), true loves (customers who are loyal to the moon and back), and so on.

Don’t worry, if you’re not cheesy that way, you can change the names of these segments according to what works for you: types of cookies, Star Wars characters, or famous actors.

What will this whole RFM Analysis thing help you with?

Let me go back to how I am the most dreadful eCommerce customer in the history of the World Wide Web.

When I’m loyal to a store and I buy from them, I appreciate when my loyalty is repaid in one way or another. It may have to do with faster Customer Service. It may have to do with an anniversary discount. No matter how little it is, it makes me, as a customer, feel like they value my business. And I like that.

I don’t expect the same thing from stores I haven’t purchased from in years, and that’s normal.

By using an RFM model, you get to automatically segment users like me and give them what they want: recognition. Not only will they be more likely to come back to your eCommerce the second, third, and one-hundredth time, but they will also be more likely to recommend you to their friends as well.

#4 Show Customers You Share Their Values

This is both a Conversion and a Retention strategy.

And yes, it works – but only as long as your brand (or the brands you sell) don’t come in contradiction with the values you promote.

Yes, as an eCommerce customer I will be more inclined to buy from a company who believes in the same things I do – a company that, let’s say, promotes environmental friendliness or social campaigns.

Giving back to society is something I strongly believe in. I don’t care how much money the CEO has and how much more they could donate to good causes – I do care that they do this. And studies show there are a lot of people like me: 87% of the US consumers purchased from a brand because it sustained causes they believed in.

Damn it, Millennials, you’re ruining everything! 🙂

#5 Make It Homey

Your eStore should be welcoming – just like your favorite coffee shop is. And that’s not about the design only. Yes, a user-friendly website with nice graphics does help a lot (and my colleagues in the CRO Agency can bring forward plenty of data to show just how much of a difference a simple button design or a product placement on the page can make).

It’s about the copy, the design, the feeling I get when I purchase from a brand. Is there a community built around it – a fanbase of like-minded people whom I can adhere to? Is there something more to an eStore than products? Do I like the emails they send me?

In one way, this strategy is about everything else discusses so far – and so much more. Your eCommerce store shouldn’t be perceived as a heartless, pixelated entity. It should be perceived as a place people feel comfortable in – a place where they come not just to satisfy a need (e.g. buy a new refrigerator), but also feel good about it.

I feel good about the eCommerce stores I regularly purchase from – they don’t welcome me with a red carpet when I sign in, and their store doesn’t smell like lavender. But they do everything else right, from the moment I land on their pages to the moment the package arrives at my door and I see they’ve put care and attention into packaging everything.

eCommerce shouldn’t be a dehumanizing experience.

It should connect people and brands without the restrictions of geographical frontiers.

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