Online retailers: 6 tips to turn first-time shoppers into repeat customers

Attracting new customers is always a challenge. It can also be pretty darn expensive when you add up all the online marketing and advertising costs.  

Get tips to boost ecommerce $$$ by downloading "25 easy ways to blast  last-minute buyer resistance and increase online sales."

So, of course, you don’t want to let them go after that one first purchase. You want to convince them to come back again and again. After all, repeat customers tend to spend more money and contribute significantly to your bottom line (and your reputation thanks to word of mouth). 

These tips will help you successfully turn one-time customers into repeat customers.  

1. Make the first purchase frictionless 

The most important thing you can do to ensure repeat business is offer a pleasant, seamless shopping and buying experience. If a customer becomes frustrated the first time around, you bet they won’t come back regardless of how you try to win them over. 

How do you offer a frictionless experience? 

  • Make navigating your site and searching for products quick and easy 
  • Make checking out a breeze with short forms, a variety of payment methods, and a seamless flow 
  • Offer plenty of shipping options, including free shipping and next-day shipping, if possible 
  • Process orders quickly – don’t make customers wait to receive their goods 

2. Start a loyalty program 

I know I only go to Shell so I can get Air Miles. I shop at Zehrs and Shoppers Drug Mart so I can get Optimum points (and cash them in for more stuff).

Loyalty programs work.

They get people coming back for more.  

Get new customers to enroll in your loyalty program right away by giving them a big discount on their purchase if they do. Then, send them emails with exclusive member discounts, an update on how many points they have (and the dollar value), and tips on how to get more from the program.  

Loyalty programs get customers to purchase more often and spend more with each purchase, so it’s a win all around.  

3. Communicate by email 

Tempt new customers to sign up for your email newsletter by giving them a discount on their first purchase if they subscribe. Once you’ve gotten permission to contact them, you have an excellent opportunity to win their loyalty.  

Email communication is one of the best ways to: 

  • Keep your brand top of mind 
  • Tell your brand story and build a relationship 
  • Share sales, special offers, and discounts 
  • Offer valuable and useful tips and other content
  • Announce new products 
  • Offer personalized recommendations 
  • Get customers back to your site with just one click 

I can go on and on about the value of email communication for online retailers.  It's really just the best way to keep in touch.

4. Offer great customer service 

If the shopper encounters a hurdle, such as a technical difficulty, the way you handle the obstacle can mean the difference between a one-time customer and a repeat customer. 

No one likes to wait, so invest in 24/7 customer service. A chatbot can be a great way to offer shoppers quick and helpful responses at any time of the day. A call centre with more than enough agents for all incoming calls will also make a good impression.  

5. Personalize offers and recommendations 

Increasingly, customers are expecting online retailers to offer personalized recommendations, so it's definitely something you should offer if you want to boost loyalty.

You probably already track user behaviours on your site. You should be leveraging this valuable data by using it to offer personalized recommendations that are of real value to your customers. 

Personalization is not only more relevant and convenient for shoppers, but it’s also appreciated. No one wants to waste time reviewing recommendations for products they don’t want or need. But they will appreciate reviewing recommendations for products that add value to their lives.  

There are plenty of ecommerce tools that can help you offer this type of personalized service (like the ones in this jumbo list of tools that will improve your ecommerce store).  

6. Build relationships 

From sending a thank-you email for a customer’s first order and engaging them on social media to asking for (and implementing) honest feedback, there are many ways you can recognize and appreciate your customers. The best brands are the ones that are customer-first, so take the time to show your customers you care. This will help you build genuine relationships and ensure long-standing loyalty.  

Attracting new customers is only the first step. You then need to build loyalty to ensure repeat purchases. Try out these actionable tips to get started.  


Text Size

Brandon Moore

The customer: That’s what my role is all about as VP of marketing and customer experience at BNA Smart Payment. Whether it’s making sure our clever marketing strategies are in line with customer pain points, our website is delivering a killer user experience, or our help desk is serving customers in the most convenient ways, I work to ensure our prospects and customers are happy.

Find Brandon Moore on:

Subscribe to our blog