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How to give eCommerce customers what they really want (and keep them coming back!)

Over the last few months here on the JH blog, we’ve covered eCommerce strategy, how to use workshops for merchants, the latest performance optimisation tips (and lots of other things in between) – but this month, we’re exploring customer loyalty and retention

Research shows a 5% increase in customer retention leads to a 25% overall increase in profit

There’s a reason this is a high-priority focus for so many eCommerce merchants – not only can a new customer cost five times more to acquire than retaining an existing one, but research shows a 5% increase in customer retention leads to a 25% increase in profit. So really – investing here is a no brainer.

The majority of merchants probably already have the basics covered – if you’re reading this, it’s likely you already have a mailing list, retargeting campaigns and a plethora of other retention strategies in your arsenal. You might even have done a few deep-dives to figure out where any problems lie, and started tracking analytics and data to help you build your strategy going forward. But there’s always room to make improvements!

For today’s post, we really wanted to dive into what your repeat customers really want to see from your eCommerce brand…

A friction-free journey

Whether it’s replenishing a product they’ve run out of, or accessing the tracking information for their purchase, they want to do it as fast – and as easily – as possible.

Research shows more than a third of customers seriously consider not purchasing if an online store is difficult to navigate, or makes it hard to find the products they’re looking for. Adding ‘click to re-order’ buttons in the customer area, or even offering a subscription service for common repeat purchase items are a great way to make the process easier, and keep customers coming back. 

If you haven’t already, you should also consider deploying one-click tracking on your site in order to streamline the customer’s user-journey during their buying process. Customers return more often to frictionless, stress-free buying experiences, so stop sending your customer away to courier websites with tracking codes when you could be keeping them on-site

Loyalty discounts

Nobody likes to see an amazing offer and then spot “New customers only” in the small print. Yikes – way to alienate your most loyal customers. Consumers love to be rewarded for their loyalty – and it doesn’t have to make a massive impact on your margins. 

Whether it’s a full-blown tiered loyalty program, early VIP access to a sale, or a discount on a future full size product when they buy a sample, take steps to make them feel good for supporting you (and not a competitor). 

Access to regular updates

It doesn’t matter how amazing their experience was, to a lot of customers, many of the brands they purchase from are forgettable. (Sorry, guys.) Alongside having a great brand, they key to not being forgotten is consistency. Make sure you open up those communication channels early – whether it’s encouraging an account signup, newsletter subscription, or simply a social follow.

Don’t make your returning customers work to see the latest and greatest launches from your eCommerce brand. Send them launch announcement newsletters to get them excited about your new products, and make it easy to find your What’s New page, when they fancy a browse through all the products you’ve added recently. Returning customers will hang around on your store longer than new ones – they spend more than double the amount of time browsing and visit close to double the pages, too – so capitalise on that with easy access to what they might have missed last time around.

The right frequency of communications varies depending on your industry and brand – some brands find daily newsletters work well, others might only launch new products once or twice a month, so not require such a high frequency of comms. Other brands try SMS marketing or even print campaigns. Don’t limit it to your comms plan, either – update banners, featured categories and blogs on your site to highlight new launches, features and content repeat customers may be interested in.

Product recommendations they actually want

Ever ordered, say, a new printer online and then been bombarded with ads and emails for – more printers? Why on earth would I want to immediately buy another printer? These retailers are missing a trick – they should be targeting purchasers with ink cartridges and specialty paper, not more printers. 

AI recommendations are clever, but sometimes a little bit of a human touch can go a long way. Research shows almost 1 in 4 customers want brands to help them discover new products they might like – so why not give them what they want? 

A community to be a part of

Some brands go beyond products, and become a larger part of their customers’ lives; with the rise in D2C brands, especially those with strong brand values, grassroots and official communities spring up in sometimes surprising places. 

Where can your customers congregate, swap tips, share recommendations and stories with each other? Some brands focus on building an Instagram community; some choose to host a Facebook group – others go the extra mile and build in a community area directly on the website (a pretty smart way to bring people back to your site, if you can make it work). 

Once you’ve decided where you want people to hang out, don’t forget to tell your customers about it – asking them to join like-minded people in post-purchase emails could be a great way to grow an engaged community.

Join our workshop?

We hope this post has given you some food for thought! If this topic has gotten you hungry to improve your customer loyalty and retention, you might be excited to know that we’re hosting an exclusive workshop in partnership with Fresh Relevance for eCommerce merchants around that exact topic. Want an invite? Drop us an email at to request yours.

Just want to chat about developing your wider eCommerce strategy? Give us a call on +44(0)115 9338784 or email us at to get started.