How to Drive More Repeat Purchases Than Ever Before

Ecommerce business owners are always working hard to develop new strategies that will help them ignite and boost sales each quarter.

In the ecommerce world, a big part of driving sales and revenue each month has to involve targeting new customers and convincing them to buy for the very first time.

But ecommerce businesses can’t survive in the long run based on purchases from new customers alone. To succeed in building a sustainable and profitable business over a long period of time, you also need to build loyalty with past customers and convince them to buy from you again and again.

Why put so much focus on and energy into driving repeat purchases? Repeat customers spend more—sometimes as much as 300 times more. It’s also much more expensive—sometimes as much as 5 times more—to convert a new customer than it is to convince an existing customer to buy again. Existing customers are also easier to sell to because they’ve already had a chance to get to know your brand, try your products, and interact with your team.

Looking for ideas on how to drive more repeat purchases for your ecommerce business? Here are 8 actionable tactics that you can incorporate into your strategy:

1. Start with Your Brand

To get past customers to buy from you again, you have to commit to presenting them with an amazing, unforgettable brand. At the end of the day, you want people to know that your business and products are different from any other out there. You don’t want your customers to think they should look elsewhere the next time they want to buy a product like yours again. To convince them, you have to invest in product quality and customer experience, but you also need to present them with a brand they want to love and ultimately be associated with.

So, the question is, how do you create a brand that people can rally behind? Here are 4 quick tips:

  • Tip #1: Hire a Professional – Work with a professional designer or branding agency to develop a cohesive, thoughtful brand identity that you can work into everything you do and create.
  • Tip #2: Know and Share Your Values – Develop values around your brand and make sure your audience knows what those values are. Be known for something.
  • Tip #3: Put Your Brand Identity Everywhere – Once your brand identity, values, and voice have been developed, include them everywhere—from social media banners and email campaigns to unboxing experiences and direct mail efforts.
  • Tip #4: Make It About Your Customers – Let your customers know that they are a part of your brand—that they matter.
  • Your brand identity is often the first impression you can give to a prospective customer. To transform one-time customers into loyal brand advocates, remind shoppers at every turn what makes you different, unique, and worth supporting.

    2. Create an Unmatched Unboxing Experience

    Another investment worth making to boost repeat purchases and customer loyalty relates to your product packaging. Because online shoppers don’t get the instant gratification that they normally get when they buy and take home products at traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores, you have to go out of your way to create an exciting, memorable experience for them once your products arrive at their doorstep.

    What we’re talking about here is the unboxing experience. An unboxing experience relates to the first few moments when a shopper opens a package and sees and holds a product in their hands for the very first time.

    In ecommerce, you have a lot of opportunities to shape this initial experience for your customers. For example, you could save a few dollars and send your products in a plain box with no message included other than the order receipt. Or, you could send products in a branded package with stickers, a handwritten thank you card, and other branded swag that you know they’ll love. My question for you is, which package would you be more excited to open? Which would be more memorable to you?

    If you’re serious about driving more repeat purchases before the end of the year and you’re not currently investing in any sort of unboxing experience of strategy, start now.

    3. Curate Content From Customers

    To persuade your past customers to buy from you again, you have to make them feel like they are part of your story. You have to make them feel like they aren’t just buying products from an unknown company. Instead, you have to make them feel that they are part of a unique, active, and nurturing community. You want customers to really feel and believe that they are part of something bigger. Something that matters.

    One of the best ways to build and nurture a community-based relationship with your customers is by curating content from them.

    4. Build a Winning Customer Experience Team

    These days, if you want to build loyalty with customers and convince them to buy from you again, you have to offer an unmatched customer experience for anyone who interacts with your business, team, and online store. From the moment someone lands on your website for the first time, to the day your products arrive at their doorstep, and everywhere in between and after, you and your team have to constantly work to provide an amazing level of customer service and attention to people.

    To provide amazing customer support and customer service to your website visitors, customers, and social media followers, you need to build the right team. Here are some of the roles and responsibilities to consider assigning to people as your team continues to grow and evolve through the end of the year and beyond:

    • Live Chat Agent – A strong writer and communicator who can field messages and questions from visitors and customers through live chat on your website.
    • Customer Success Champion – A strategic-minded person who can help onboard customers and make sure they are getting everything they need.
    • Customer Delight / CX Manager – A creative-minded person who can uncover opportunities to delight customers at every turn. Someone who can manage multiple projects and initiatives at once.
    • Community Manager – A strong writer who can manage relationships across all your social media profiles.
    • Support Article Writer – A strong writer who can create FAQ and other supporting content about your products for your website.
    • Director of Customer Experience – Someone who has the experience to lead the strategy and guide the team in their initiatives.  

    With the right team in place, you can give your past, current, and future customers the types of experiences they want and need in order to be convinced to buy from you again.

    5. Commit to Transparency

    Another simple way to build loyalty and trust with customers in order to drive more sales is by committing to transparency. Your existing and future customers want to feel like they know and understand your business, products, team, values, and mission. Online shoppers don’t just want transactional relationships anymore. They want to build meaningful, authentic connections with the ecommerce companies they choose to support.

    As an ecommerce entrepreneur, it’s your job to keep your audience in the loop about everything that’s happening with your business and products. Specifically, you should help them understand:

    • Your Values – Your audience should have a good understanding of what your values are. They should know what you care about, what your motivations are, and how it impacts them and the world.
    • Your Mission – Your audience should have a strong understanding of what your mission is. Who are you trying to help? Why did you build and launch your products? What community or initiative are you supporting?
    • Your Story – Your audience should know who you are and why you started your company. They should understand how it has changed and evolved over time, and where it’s going in the near and distant future.
    • Your Product Changes – Your audience should know when you make changes to your products and they should understand why those changes are being made.
    • Your Policies – Your audience should understand what your policies are and how they might have an impact on them. Examples include shipping policy, return policy, lifetime warranties, etc.
    • Your Team – Your audience should understand who your employees are and why they are working for you.
    • Your Partnerships – Your audience should understand who your partners and vendors are, what they believe, and why you chose to work with them over other companies.

    The more transparent you can be, the more trust you’ll ultimately be able to build with your audience. Transparency leads to trust and respect which leads to loyalty which leads to more repeat sales.

    6. Launch a VIP Loyalty Program

    If you haven’t already done so, consider launching a VIP loyalty program for your ecommerce business before the end of the year in order to drive new customer acquisition and more repeat sales.

    VIP loyalty programs are exclusive programs that reward customers for purchasing from you more than once. They typically offer exclusive promos, first dibbs on newly launched products, and special gifts to your most loyal and active customers.

    If you’re looking for a loyalty tool that you can adopt and use for your business, check out one of these tools:

    To learn more about the impact of loyalty programs and to dig into real examples, explore this helpful blog article from Shopify.

    7. Optimize Transactional Emails

    When it comes to email marketing, transactional emails have some of the highest open and engagement rates of any email you can send. The most common types of transactional emails are order confirmation and shipping emails. These are emails that your customers are likely opening in order to get status updates about the products you’re going to be sending them.

    Because these emails perform so well, you should be taking the opportunity to optimize them for sales and repeat purchases. With tools like Spently, you can easily add product recommendation blocks and personalized product recommendations to the transactional emails you are already sending to customers through Shopify.

    As an ecommerce business owner, it’s your job to continue nurturing relationships with your customers. Adding optimized, conversion-driven messaging and content in your transactional emails can promote the fact that you want to develop long-term relationships with your customers. It’s also a great time to upsell other products because it’s usually when your customers are most excited about your business and products.

    Want to learn more about how to optimize your transactional emails? Dig into this chapter from the Shopify guide on How to Grow Your Ecommerce Business with Email Marketing.

    8. Keep Past Customers Informed

    The final way to drive repeat purchases this fall is to simply keep your past customers informed on what you’re doing. It’s easy to focus on driving new sales and converting new website visitors into customers, but to truly succeed, you have to continue building relationships with the people who have purchased products from you before. Here are some ways to do it:

    • Send Them Emails – Make sure your past customers are getting personalized emails from you and your team. It’s OK to send them the same standard email marketing campaigns that you’re sending everyone else, but they should also be receiving targeted campaigns from you that present content based on their past purchases.
    • Share Updates on Social Media – Keep your social media community updated on product announcements and seasonal campaigns. Promote special promo codes to those who have purchased from you before in the past.
    • Send Direct Mail – Send targeted, personalized direct mail and handwritten thank you cards to your past customers. Share information about your business, share promo codes, and show your appreciation.
    • Call Them – Pick up the phone and call customers who made big purchases in the past. Give them an actionable promo code that they can take advantage of.
    • Delight Them – Think of ways to delight your past customers. For ideas, take a look at this popular article from the Sellbrite blog.

    Asking seems like a simple tactic, but it can an incredibly effective and low-cost tactic to implement for your business. All it takes is a little strategy and the right person to help you execute.

    Over to You

    What other tactics or strategies are you using to successfully drive repeat purchases at your business? Share your ideas in the comments below.

    William Harris William Harris is leading content at Sellbrite and is also the Founder & Growth Marketer of Elumynt, LLC., VP of Marketing and Growth for a top 700 online retailer and former head of Marketing for When I Work, a VC backed SaaS company. William is also a contributor to leading publications like The Next Web, Search Engine Journal, Social Media Today, and Sellbrite and a speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, search engine optimization, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding. Follow William on Twitter (@WmHarris101), LinkedIn, and Google+.