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Build customer loyalty by optimizing your shopping experience.

by Canada Post   |   December 12, 2017   |   Share this:  

Customer acquisition is often the primary goal of growing e-commerce businesses, but customer retention is the real ticket to growth. Loyal customers create a steady revenue stream that's easier and less expensive to sustain than finding new customers.

Canada Post surveyed 5000 Canadian online shoppers to pinpoint how they define a good online shopping experience and more specifically, what would drive loyalty to a particular experience. The research reveals that retailers can start building a lasting relationship with a potential customer even before the first purchase.

To view all six elements of an online shopper's experience that drive loyalty, download our report “The Journey to Build Loyalty among Online Shoppers”.

How good is your customers' experience before they hit the checkout button? Ask yourself the following questions to determine the pre-purchase experience you provide:

Are your products visible – and available?

Advertising products that aren't available is like a bowl of plastic fruit when you're hungry. There's almost nothing more frustrating than finding the item you want on a merchant's website only to realize that it is out of stock, with no indication of when it might be available again.

You can manage your customers' expectations by making your products more visible and accessible. If an item is not in stock, give shoppers the option to receive “back in stock” alerts or email notifications. When you keep your customers in the loop, you show them that you are committed to retaining their business.

If the item isn't available online, is it available in store? Canadians happily buy products through many different avenues. You might not realize that:

Shoppers expect to get what they want, the way they want to. Aligning online and brick and mortar stock can be a challenge for retailers, but it's worth the investment. To make this a reality, consider integrating systems that can help you manage an omni-channel strategy and training staff to offer the right channel alternatives to your shoppers.

Interested in reading more from Canada Post? Visit the Canada Post Shipping Solutions Blog for more articles to help you operate your e-commerce business more effectively.

How does the cost of shipping impact your shopping experience?

An offer of free or low-cost shipping can help make you more sales. Not offering such options could dissuade your customers from shopping with you again. 

The downside? Offering free shipping impacts your bottom line. Even Canada's top retailers can't afford it as their standard policy.

If you can't offer year-round free shipping, consider using it at strategic times (key selling periods during the holiday season, for example) or offering customers a break on shipping or free shipping when they spend a minimum amount in your store.

Implementing different shipping strategies will help you understand what works best for both you and your customers.

A strategic shipping promotion can help you attract new customers and keep them long term.

Free shipping has a major ripple effect. It boosts conversion and improves shoppers' perceptions of a website's shopping experience — which increases the likelihood that customers will keep coming back for more.  If you can offer it, you should.

Learn about free shipping's halo effect in our shopper loyalty report.

Is your checkout process simple?

The checkout process is the home stretch of the purchase experience. At this point, shoppers have gotten through the hurdles of browsing, and have likely reviewed and accepted your shipping fees and return policy. But it's not over till it's over. You can still lose them with an inconvenient and complicated checkout process, jeopardizing the current sale and any future opportunities you might have enjoyed with that customer.

Want to encourage your customers to come back for more? Our research has indicated that certain checkout factors encourage shoppers to return.  Our ultimate checkout checklist will help you improve customer loyalty:

Wondering why we didn't include customer accounts on the checklist? Creating a customer account system may seem like it would be in everyone's favour, but it's important to note that checkout accounts are not always desirable. Many customers prefer the option of guest checkout (59%), but they are also used to creating online shopping profiles/logins on at least one retailer site (81%). If you want to make customers happy, you would be wise to enable both options.

Turn one-time browsers into loyal shoppers

Someone who browses your site could be your next loyal customer, if your website offers the right environment. Encourage repeat visits with these tips:

  • Enable product visibility for your shoppers – and align your channels.

    Offer to send them a “back in stock” alert or suggest alternative products they might be interested in.

  • Offer free shipping strategically.

    It impacts the overall satisfaction of your online customers and influences if they will return to your store.

  • Simplify your checkout process.

    But ensure that you include important delivery information and secure online payment options.

Want to learn more about how this research can help your business? Get in touch.

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READ MORE: Today's e-commerce returns experiences impact tomorrow's customer loyalty

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