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Article: Customer Retention: Building Customer Loyalty for your Ecommerce Business


Do you have customers who return to you, year after year, to purchase your alpaca products? You might be surprised to hear that these repeat customers could be the backbone of your alpaca business.

Many businesses focus their efforts on acquiring new customers, but from a financial standpoint, retaining past customers is a more cost effective strategy. Consider that repeat customers make up 65% of revenue for a typical online store. Satisfied customers are more likely to make larger purchases in the future, versus new customers who may make a smaller purchase to test out your product. Repeat customers are also more likely to recommend or review your business in a positive light. Remember, word of mouth is still the most powerful (and free!) form of marketing available to small businesses. 

The overall experience that you build for your customers throughout each interaction can instill a sense of loyalty to your brand, propelling them to return for future purchases. From your website, to the order process, to the delivery, and regular e-mail correspondence, you can use these tools to build customer loyalty for your ecommerce business.


Before the Sale

Businesses often utilize loyalty programs or subscription-based ordering to cultivate return customers, but gaining customer trust can be built into the experiences you already offer.

If you have a standalone ecommerce website, consider customer accessibility. Make sure that it’s easy to use and streamline your order process to make it as simple as possible to make a purchase. If possible, test out your website on a willing “outsider.” Ask a friend or family member to go over the website as if they were a customer. Does the information make sense? Do they have trouble ordering? Chances are that they will see things you don’t with fresh eyes!

If you are selling on a different platform like Etsy, your focus instead will be on making your brand stand out from your competitors through your copywriting and product photography. 

Regardless of the platform, customers are interested in more than just your products, they want to know the values behind your brand. 89% of customers are likely to be loyal to a brand if it’s values align with their own. Keep your customers coming back with interesting content like email newsletters with store updates, blogs that captivate their attention, and by engaging with them on social media. The content you create should be consistent with the feel of your brand and its values across all customer experience touchpoints, including your website, social media pages, product photography, blog, packaging, and emails. Need some hints on where to begin creating your brand story? Check out our previous article on Harnessing the Power of Storytelling to Promote your Alpaca Business. 

After the Sale

A purchase isn’t necessarily complete after you receive payment. Customers continue to gauge their experience throughout the buying process. Something as simple as an order confirmation or shipping notification can instill a stronger sense of trust in your brand.

This order confirmation from Polaroid provides the necessary shipping information, in addition to pointing customers to their FAQ to get started learning about their products.

When making sales face-to-face, you may sell your products in branded gift bags, but what about orders going out by mail? Today, almost anything can be ordered online and shipped to your door, so it’s important that your delivery stands out when it arrives alongside other packages, especially as the unboxing experience has become just important as the product inside, for those individuals who savor the excitement and anticipation of opening a gift. Heighten the customer experience with a well-presented product in a unique, branded package. Something as simple as neatly wrapped tissue paper and a handwritten note goes a long way in making a good impression!

More and more, companies are opting to ship using bespoke packaging that is more inline with their brand's story. Think of ways to incorporate your brand's story clearly into your packing materials. Do you focus on alpaca's environmentally friendly characteristics? Opt for recycled packing materials! Do you want your customers to feel connected to your animals? Include a bio of one of your alpacas in every purchase!

Branded packaging, decorative tissue paper, and green shredded paper give this box its unique and memorable appeal.


Following Up

Once you’ve sent out an order, be sure to follow up with an email to keep your business fresh in the customer’s memory. The email can be a simple “thank you,” or perhaps an action-oriented email.

A follow up email is a great opportunity to get customer feedback on their shopping experience. It can also be a good time to recommend other products for future purchase. Be sure to ask customers to review or give feedback on your products. Positive customer testimonials can then be included in future marketing materials!

Your follow up can be a simple "thank you," or you can use it to keep your customers engaged. This email from Revolution Tea rewards customers for taking part in a survey after their previous purchase. As shown in the email, they received useful customer testimonials through offering the survey.

Regardless of how you are making sales (in person or online) it’s always smart to compile an email list of your past customers. If you plan to run any promotions, these are the individuals you want to target! Remember, email is your most powerful e-marketing tool, so make sure you use it! 


Focus on Acquisition AND Retention!

Take some time over the next few weeks to pay attention to who your customers are. Are they first timers or repeat customers? Do they frequently visit your website and make purchases? You can even use a formula to calculate your Customer Retention Rate. Survey or interview some of your most loyal customers to find out what resonates with them about your business. Take that information and utilize it when you are crafting your overall customer experience. While it's always important to attract new customers, don't forget the importance of retaining past customers!


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