68% of ecommerce customers will never purchase a second time from the same store, data analytics company RJMetrics shared at an IRCE session in Chicago. Find that scary? We hear you. Once you’ve done the hard work of attracting customers, how do you keep them coming back on highly competitive marketplaces like Amazon, which lists over 288 million items in its vast inventory?

Here are 4 ways to beat the odds and win at customer retention.

Identify your main product offering and enhance it

Every great business has a core product. What’s yours? What are you really about? Once you’ve figured out what makes you different, amplify that. Communicate it through ongoing emails to your customers, product placement advertising on the marketplace, and detailed product descriptions.

Once a customer buys from you, don’t forget to package your product in an attractive way and include a personalized message. And afterward, don’t just solicit reviews, read them and act on them. Is there a consistent piece of feedback you’re getting? Even if it’s just one out of hundreds, make sure you have a plan of action to address that problem.

Doing these things will ensure that even before you launch a customer retention program, you already have loyal customers who want to buy from you again.

Create an attractive offer

Most of us have at least several loyalty cards in our wallet, but there are some we never use. Or we might buy something and then get an offer to get half off the 11th item if we buy ten more, an offer we may just ignore. Why? Because the reward just isn’t enough. Research actually shows that if the financial offer is too small, it can diminish customer goodwill. In fact, each year $16 billion worth of loyalty program rewards don’t get redeemed.

An attractive offer is about the customer first. Make sure you’re not falling victim to the “trivialization effect” and are actually showing your customers that you appreciate them.

Segment, segment, segment

Truly understanding the customer is the first step in devising a retention program. At IRCE, Dell VP Greg Bowen shared that he places an empty chair in every meeting to symbolize the voice of the customer. When it comes to customer retention, that means stepping back from The Customer, and understanding the uniquely different types of customers buying from you. A customer loyalty program will work best when it’s targeted to a specific type of customer who will find that offer most attractive.

Segmentation involves three steps: 1) Find the best segment to target your program. 2) Figure out appropriate ways to communicate with that customer base. 3) Position the loyalty program in the eyes of the customer. The last one can be tricky, but will help you determine if you are going to offer points, a subscription program, discounts, rebates, or a combination. Another option is aligning to your brand image. If your customer segment is 25-35, travels a lot in the summers, and enjoys spending time with friends and family, you can select the best offer and timing for your customers accordingly.

Don’t forget your loyal customers

By trying to make new customers come back again to your online shop, don’t forget to reward and incentivize the ones who are already loyal and buying on a regular basis from you. One of the best ways to do this is through a referral program. 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family above other types of advertising. Make that stat work in your favor! Incentivize your regular customers to refer a friend and then reward them both.


Lastly, don’t forget to track metrics: find out what strategy is working, and how much it’s working. Look at your key ecommerce data and retention metrics such as purchase frequency and repeat customer rate so you can have a clear picture of your loyalty program’s success.

RJMetrics found that repeat customers generate more revenue than new customers. Data they shared at IRCE showed that 34 months into business, an e-retail company from the top quartile posted 60% revenue from repeat customers, and 40% from new customers. While thinking about customer retention may seem like lots of work, the numbers speak for themselves.