It looks like the worst of Covid-19 might be over in the next few months. But what does that mean for ecommerce?
Online shopping exploded during the coronavirus pandemic especially when countries went into lockdown. Customers started shopping online more and many others made internet purchases for the very first time, out of necessity. Some stores reported unheard of increases in sales.
Now, an ambitious vaccination rollout in the US will hopefully see the return of some semblance of normality.
So what will merchants do to retain new customers from the past year? How will you make all of those email addresses and newsletter sign-ups continue to work for you? We look at ways to sustain this growth and make sure that short-term customers become long-term ones.
Much of what you can do to retain customers revolves around the way you communicate with them. Our first few tips explore how to evaluate and adjust your brand voice as necessary.
During something as monumental as a pandemic, it’s easy to fall into using generic language that comes across as emotionally empty. Phrases like “in these difficult times” or “out of an abundance of caution” are over-used and feel hollow.
As the coronavirus abates and the political landscape changes, businesses may be tempted to use new themes in their communication. Words like “healing” and “unity” will soon start feeling just as empty as the phrases that were common during the thick of the pandemic. Avoid overusing recurring words and phrases that have lost impact.
At the same time, stay away from jokes and politics. People may find this distasteful, especially jokes about the coronavirus, and many people won’t share the same political views as you.
A much better approach is to speak directly and honestly to your customers. Come up with your own words and phrases. Make sure you sound human and personal otherwise you will lose authenticity. And keep your communication short and to the point to prevent information overload.
For example: “We CAN all get along!” (With a picture of a dog and cat cuddling). Or, perhaps an advert saying: “It feels like spring” for a winter campaign after herd immunity is reached. These are simple examples, but you get the idea!
Customers want to purchase from companies that are good to their employees. They want to see compassion, so show them yours. Talk about what you are doing in your organization and community to do your part. Inspire by example.
For example: “This is what we are doing to make life easier for our staff: We are providing paid leave to anyone who is ill. We’ve asked all our staff members to work from home and are providing any technology they need to do so effectively. We offer free, confidential, professional counseling to any employee feeling strain.
“Mostly, we are asking our staff how we can help each other and acting on what they tell us. We think this has brought us even closer as a team, and we thank everyone who works with us for being so thoughtful, supportive and kind.”
Focus on communication that makes your store’s visitors feel happy or relieved rather than communicating in crisis-speak. Keep things as light as possible and make your site a safe space from all the noise.
Sure, if there are delivery delays, you should let your customers know. But it’s not necessary to directly mention upsetting events like fires, snowstorms and broken distribution networks.
For example: Put a simple message at the top of your home page saying: “There may be delays with shipments to California in the next few weeks. We’re getting things to you as fast as we can!” You can leave it at that. Everyone knows why the shipments are delayed, you don’t need to feed the anxiety.
Several features can be implemented or improved on top of the communication changes.
A great way to encourage buyers to continue shopping on your store is to reward their loyalty. Make them feel special by introducing personalized rewards programs. This ensures the longevity of your business at the same time.
Decide what type of program will work best for your business. Perhaps customers earn points based on the value of their purchases which they can eventually use to buy something. Monitor the program to make sure it’s working and that customers are making use of their rewards.
Include buttons for your social media pages on your store. Social media is a powerful tool to inform customers of new products or deals. It’s also a wonderful way to engage with them. Give customers a chance to get to know the people behind the business or to ask questions.
If done right, social media can also foster a sense of community which may endear newer customers to your business.
Why not consider a subscription or auto-shipping service for your customers?
With auto-shipping, customers can choose the frequency of deliveries and the quantity of the product being shipped. It’s a convenient way for them to get the products they need. An added benefit is that the automatic billing saves them time.
Auto-shipping builds customer loyalty and increases customer lifetime value for businesses. It also creates a level of financial and logistical predictability for your business.
Similarly, subscription services are responsible for increased customer retention. There are various types of subscription services merchants can choose from based on what products they offer. These include replenishment, access, or curated subscriptions.
These types of services offer businesses the opportunity for repeat engagements with customers. Because you’re sending them products all the time, you can keep finding ways to show them they’re special and convince them that using your business was a great choice!
Install upselling and cross-selling features on your store to add extra value to customers. Upselling shows customers an upgraded or better version of the product or service they already have in their cart. Meanwhile cross-selling shows customers a product that complements what they’re already purchasing.
Take into account that upselling performs better on product pages while cross-selling is more effective when used on checkout pages.
ShopCreatify has written about several other tactics and features that can help merchants retain customers. Here are links to some of them.
Masthead photo by Federico Respini.
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