You need to stand out from the rest—it’s a cliché, but it’s true. Offering good prices and a wide range of products is important, of course. But with competition ranging from behemoths like Amazon to manufacturers looking to establish direct relationships, it’s not enough.
There are many myths about building online loyalty floating around. Let’s look at three of the most common:
Myth 1: Happy customers are loyal customers
No matter how good your store is, there’s no guarantee that customers will come back. It’s hard to hear—but satisfaction doesn’t automatically lead to loyalty. And getting it wrong just once can damage a relationship that might have taken years to build.
Always acknowledge any customer comments. It’s not always possible to put things right but showing that you care makes a big difference. However, remember that a lack of feedback doesn’t mean that all is well. In fact, no feedback at all suggests that shoppers might not be engaged with your brand. And if they aren’t engaged, they are unlikely to be loyal.
Showing that you listen is key. Make it easy to give feedback and tell customers what you do with it. Announcing that, say, you’ve changed packaging based on their feedback will make customers feel that their opinions matter. This will help build loyalty and encourage more people to contribute.
Myth 2: Personalised content builds loyalty
It’s not that personalised content doesn’t work, it’s that it’s often done badly. In fact, research shows that customers say being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business.
These days nobody is impressed by you putting their name in an email—or a postal mailer for that matter. To today’s consumer, personalised means relevant. They want recommendations and offers based on their shopping history and preferences. If you can do this effectively, your customers will feel that you care about their shopping experience, and they’ll be more likely to spend more and keep coming back.
A great way to generate relevant content and build loyalty is to encourage shoppers to contribute their own photos and reviews. Many brands—particularly in the fashion, leisure and homecare sectors—have done this very successfully. As well as providing other visitors with valuable content, it increases the connection between you and those contributing.
Consumers want recommendations and offers based on their shopping history and preferences.
Brands like Lidl and REMA 1000 have taken the opposite approach. They rely less on loyalty cards and buy-one-get-one-free promotions, making the lack of gimmicks central to their brand promise instead. This has established a loyal following of customers that trust them to offer “always low” prices.
You might not have the same level of influence as those brands, but you can still learn from their approach. Decide what you want to be known for and stick to it. Consistency is a great way to build trust, and consequently loyalty.
Myth 3: Discounts are enough to build loyalty
Sales can lead to customers coming back time and time again, until they don’t. With thousands of options, there’s always somebody that can offer even lower prices.
An alternative is to offer a rewards-based loyalty programme. The Body Shop has done this well—its customers can earn points which they can redeem for money-off vouchers or a donation to a charity. This has helped strengthen its brand values and build a sense of community among its customers.
Decide what you want to be known for and stick to it. Consistency is a great way to build trust, and consequently loyalty.
Make it easier
There’s no magic solution to building customer loyalty—but there are things that definitely get in the way.
Many retailers struggle with online cart abandonment rates. A common cause is a cumbersome checkout process. It’s easy to lose shoppers if you make gathering their details difficult or if you don’t offer the payment options they want. The easier you make it, the more likely they are to complete their purchase, come back and recommend your store to friends.