Customer retention is a vital asset for growing your ecommerce business and establishing your brand. The revenue from a single repeat customer is equal to that of up to seven new one-time customers.
Also, up to 40% of US online retailers’ revenue comes from repeat customers, even though they are only 8% of the all shoppers. Because repeat business is potentially such a gold mine for ecommerce retailers, it’s essential to increase your repeat purchase rate. You’ve probably tried various smart tools for getting your customers to keep coming back. But here’s something you may not have considered before: the shipping options your offer are actually one of the most powerful tools at your disposal for boosting customer retention and driving repeat business.
This article explores how a smart, customer-centric shipping process will help you grow your business even faster through repeat sales.
You’re probably already ticking a lot of the boxes that help drive customer retention. These include ecommerce essentials like:
That’s where customer-centric shipping also comes into play.
That’s why it’s time to optimize your online shop’s shipping process, from start to finish, to make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep your customers happy—and loyal.
The most important thing in optimizing your shipping is to you put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What are the shipping options that are most likely to impress your customers and convert them into repeat shoppers? Here are some of the best ways for improving your shipping process to boost repeat sales.
The shipping process starts at checkout. That’s why your checkout process has to be super easy to navigate. This is not the place to try out-of-the-ordinary web design features. Most people want to be able to zip through checkout, without any confusion. The entire process needs to be intuitive, user-friendly and transparent.
It’s a good idea to use an ecommerce shipping platform that lets you and your customers easily select between a range of different carriers with different shipping methods available. This makes your customers feel they have a choice to pick the option that fits them best.
There are various ways to approach free shipping. One great place to start is making it conditional. Offer free shipping on orders that exceed a set price limit. Base the limit on your profit margin and the amount you are willing to shave off of that to offer free shipping.
Conditional free shipping gives customers a small incentive to add a few more items to their shopping cart, thus increasing average order value. Most customers would prefer to pay for a bit more merchandise rather than shipping – at least they get a product to keep!
Branding the shipping process from checkout to tracking to delivery helps customers associate the experience with your brand. They will remember you are the store with that seamless experience.
Instead of sending your customer to a third-party logistics partner’s site for organizing shipping, checking the shipping status, handling returns or asking a shipping-related question, handle all of this on your own site. Enable your customers to track their shipments through your very own customized, branded tracking page. Look for a logistics plug-in for your ecommerce shop that enables you to create fully branded shipping notifications.
In addition to branded messaging, be sure to provide fully personalized notifications. This is much more customer-centric than simply relying on generic shipping status notifications from your logistics partners. Some logistics plug-ins for your online shop enable you to automate the notifications process. This is a time-saving way to build customer relationships.
Since customers are highly likely to open messages regarding shipping, these notifications are also great for some follow-up marketing. Why not include a gift voucher or a cross-sell offer based on the current purchase?
Did you know that the average return rate for online purchases is estimated to be between 15 and 40%? The actual rate varies widely from one industry to the next, with fashion retail showing the highest rates of return (as high as 63%).
81% of shoppers say they are more likely to do repeat business with a company online that offers hassle-free return shipping. Without easy returns, many customers would not buy in the first place. It’s normal, sometimes we cannot make a choice without seeing and trying the item.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but a customer-friendly returns procedure is actually a benefit to your business. It shows your customers you want them to shop stress-freely.
Consider offering return shipping directly from your website. This is much more customer-friendly than simply asking customers to sort it out themselves. You might even want to think about offering free return shipping. Yes, it will generate more back and forth of product, but it also will encourage more people to try different items in your store and shop more.
Some customers may be satisfied with standard delivery options, but there are many who are willing to pay extra for faster delivery. Actually, nearly nine out of ten shoppers say they are willing to pay for same-day shipping. Sometimes they really need the items last-minute and if you cannot ship that fast, they’d shop from someone else.
In fact, researchers have found that 4.5 days is now the longest shipping time that the average online shopper is willing to wait for a parcel to arrive.
On the bright side, if you wow your customers with a fast, smooth shipping experience, they are far more likely to make a future purchase and join the ranks of your loyal customers.
Customers sometimes might differ placing an order until they need more than one time or until they can reach the free shipping threshold. That’s an area you can improve – increasing order value and frequency increase overall profitability. So it’s worth making shipping cheaper for multiple orders.
That’s what fashion retailer ASOS offers – paying something like a membership fee to get free shipping on all orders in a year. It’s like Amazon Prime’s best feature.
As you can see, shipping is a vital tool for strengthening ties with your customers, creating brand loyalty and driving repeat business. To fully leverage this powerful tool, always focus on your customers’ needs. Put yourself in their position and consider how your shipping process can be improved.
With the right shipping software for your ecommerce shop, you can easily integrate a wide range of convenient shipping and return options for your customers to choose from. You can also automate essential tasks, like sending personalized tracking updates.
This article is contributed by Stephanie Butcher
Stephanie is a Content Marketing Specialist at Sendcloud, a shipping automation platform that helps online stores save time, effort and money on their most frustrating process. The all-in-one shipping platform connects 30+ (inter)national carriers to online stores and enables efficient worldwide shipping.
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