Retention is everything in today’s ecommerce market. Reports have found that the costs to acquire new customers for both B2B and B2C companies have increased roughly 60% in the last 5 years, making it all the more important to keep those hard-earned customers with your business.

For steady, long-term growth, businesses can set themselves apart with a thoughtful retention strategy. Read on to discover six key strategies for cultivating greater customer retention and encouraging repeat purchases.

Key takeaways

  • Increasing retention is key for ecommerce businesses who face high customer acquisition costs in today’s economy.
  • By taking steps to encourage repeat purchases, merchants can not only improve their bottom line, but also increase customer satisfaction.
  • Retention strategies to consider include personalization, utilizing customer feedback, offering recurring purchase options and a customer loyalty program, and optimizing the checkout and returns process.

6 ecommerce customer retention strategies

To improve customer retention effectively, merchants must approach this from a variety of different angles. Below, we break down six key elements of a retention strategy that can be used to drive customer loyalty and boost your customer retention rate.

1. Personalize the customer experience

These days, personalization isn’t an added bonus for customer satisfaction—it’s the expectation. Shoppers require experiences to be tailored specifically to them and their preferences to save them time and effort sifting through your site.

Personalizing the experience shows your customers that you understand them and appreciate the unique value they bring to the table. This can not only help you increase customer retention, but also improve a variety of other metrics, from LTV to AOV to churn.

Areas for personalization can include:

  • Personalized product recommendations in the form of cross-selling and upselling
  • Tailored product collections based on a customer’s previous order history
  • Targeted messaging in the customer portal
  • Special communications or gifts honoring a customer’s anniversary with you

2. Utilize customer feedback & reviews

When it comes to growing your repeat customers, there’s no better resource than customer feedback. It’s crucial to regularly collect customer feedback to identify areas of success, as well as ones that can be improved.

AutoBrush collects customer reviews and displays them right on their website.

This can be done in a variety of ways, from post-purchase customer satisfaction surveys to customer interviews to reviews. You can even reward your customers for providing feedback to encourage deeper engagement.

By constantly optimizing your business based on real customer feedback, you can create experiences that shoppers want to return to again and again. But the benefits don’t stop there. Displaying positive reviews on your website can also increase trust in your brand and in turn help you acquire new customers as well. And customers acquired through these types of reviews may be open to leaving a review if they have a positive experience, too.

3. Keep existing customers coming back with recurring purchase options

Recurring purchase options offer built-in ways to boost your repeat customer rate and keep them coming back. Two major recurring business models to consider include subscriptions and memberships.

Onyx Coffee Lab offers a 5% discount on their coffees when customers purchase them as a subscription.

Subscription merchants appear to have a key advantage when it comes to long-term customer retention. While research by Omniconvert found that the chances that an ecommerce customer returns to make another purchase drop to 20% after 200 days, our report found that subscribers stuck around in far bigger droves in 2022, with an average of 45% retention over roughly the same period.

Paid membership programs are another valuable way to keep customers engaged and returning to your business. For some merchants, these programs can even be combined with subscriptions to provide greater impact and multiple sources of recurring revenue.

Beyond increasing retention among your current customers, these programs offer a wealth of other benefits, including boosted MRR, customer satisfaction, and LTV.

4. Optimize the checkout process

Offering a smooth checkout process is key for retaining customers. After all, issues with checkout are one of the main reasons for shopping cart abandonment. If your process is complicated, confusing, or frustrating, customers may not complete a purchase with you—even if they’ve bought from you once before.

Key areas to optimize the checkout process include:

  • Simplifying the checkout and considering one-page checkouts
  • Optimizing site loading speeds
  • Being transparent about shipping costs, and offering free shipping when possible
  • Offering guest checkout options
  • Providing recurring purchase options so customers don’t have to re-submit their payment info every time they’d like to make another purchase with you

5. Offer a free customer loyalty program

Free customer loyalty programs are an excellent way to engage large groups of loyal customers and incentivize them to continue purchasing with you. Think of a punch card at your local coffee shop—if you know you’ll get a free beverage after 9 more purchases, you may be more likely to return to the same café again and again. 

In order for these programs to make a true impact on your retention, you must offer rewards that are meaningful to your customers while not being overly costly to your business. Research to learn more about the exact benefits that your shoppers care about the most, then build them into your loyalty program strategy for the greatest chances of success. 

6. Optimize the returns & exchange process

No matter how excellent your products or services are, some customers may inevitably need to return or exchange an item—this is the reality of ecommerce today. The easier you make it for customers to do so, the more likely they’ll be to return to your ecommerce store in the future and recommend you to friends.

To optimize your returns process, be sure to clearly communicate your returns and exchanges policy upfront before customers purchase. Outline the steps to making a return or exchange on your website and make it easy for them to find this information, should they need it. 

You can even consider offering free shipping on exchanges to incentivize customers to swap out an item. By getting them closer to finding their perfect product match with you, you increase the chances that they’ll return to your business, boosting your retention.

Optimize your customer retention strategy with these tactics

Thoughtful customer retention programs center the customer experience from a variety of different angles. By focusing on creating intuitive, seamless, and personalized experiences for them, you not only retain customers for longer, but also tap into a variety of other benefits for your ecommerce business, including better customer engagement, increased lifetime value, boosted customer satisfaction, and more.