Online Customer Retention for Ecommerce: 8 Ways to Improve

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Swetha Amaresan
Swetha Amaresan


Retaining current customers is more cost-effective than converting new ones. That's why online customer retention for ecommerce is so critical. If you can keep customers coming back, you're in a better position to generate more consistent sales over time.

repeat online customer opens up a new package

Thankfully, there are ways to help your team boost overall customer retention. Ready to retain more customers? Start with these eight tips.

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8 Ways to Improve Online Customer Retention for Ecommerce

As shown in the image below, we've compiled eight strategies your ecommerce business can use to improve online customer retention.

online customer retention strategies, adopt email marketing, delight customers, have a strong social media presence, offer a rewards program, personalize the experience, maintain a signature brand look, offer more delivery and return options, give customers a reason to create an account

We'll review each one below.

1. Adopt email marketing.

Email is a great way to connect with ecommerce customers. As soon as a new customer makes a purchase, greet them with a welcome email message. Use this opportunity to thank them for their purchase. Then, offer options for upselling and cross-selling.

Customers may also drift away if they haven't made a recent purchase. Keep these customers engaged by sending them recurring emails. For example, you could send a "We miss you!" email with a discount code to encourage them to purchase again. Check out this example from a GoDaddy purchase.

online customer retention, email marketing from Go Daddy

2. Delight customers.

Going the extra mile for customers helps them remember your brand. But remember: exceptional service is more than a one-time effort. Consistent, regular acts of delight show customers your company uses exceptional service as more than just a ploy to gain sales.

For instance, you might add free samples with an order, go above and beyond with your customer service, or offer free trials.

In the image below, beer company Carlsberg delighted its customers by installing a billboard that dispensed free beer.

online customer retention example, Carlsberg free beer dispensing poster

Image source

3. Have a strong social media presence.

Having a solid social media plan can be the difference between customers staying or churning. This is especially true if millennials or Generation Z are your target demographics. So if you're selling online, you need a strong social media presence.

Start by responding to any questions and concerns. Make sure customers who share positive things about your brand feel recognized and cherished. You should monitor how customers interact with your social media channels through mentions, hashtags, and direct posts.

Social media is also a great way to connect with customers through humor. For inspiration, turn to Wendy's Twitter account, which is well known for funny posts and replies to other Twitter users and companies.

online customer retention example, @Wendy's purple and cover in nerds just like @Twitch

Image source

4. Offer a rewards program.

Rewards programs give customers a reason to keep coming back. After all, racking up stars, points, or dollars — or whatever system you decide to use — lets customers get closer to a free product or discount.

One brand that has an excellent rewards program is Sephora. Sephora lets its user choose how they want to spend their rewards points. Customers can select individual Sephora products, or they can buy discounts or coupons. This way, Sephora users can get exactly what they want from the rewards program.

online customer retention example, Sephora rewards

Image source

5. Personalize the experience.

Ecommerce brands have access to customer purchasing history through their online database. Use this to your advantage by personalizing customer experiences based on their purchasing history. Amazon does this by recommending offers based on products you've viewed and ordered, such as in the example below.

online customer retention example, Amazon recommended

Image source

This can also extend to customer communication. If you have an email newsletter, you can personalize it by sharing relevant content — such as blog posts — based on past purchases.

You can also connect directly with customers and ask how to better personalize their experience, Make them feel like an individual, rather than simply a source of revenue.

6. Maintain a signature brand look.

As an ecommerce brand, you may not have a brick-and-mortar location. This means you have to rely on other forms of branding, such as color schemes, fonts, and digital images to capture consumer attention.

Take a page out of Glossier's book, a skincare and makeup brand. The brand is known for mailing out products in pink bubble-wrap pouches with strips of branded stickers. Although a mostly online brand, these items have become a part of Glossier's signature look. The packaging is recognizable by most individuals in its target demographic.

online customer retention example, Glossier packaging

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7. Offer more delivery and return options.

Customers want their online shopping experience to be as easy. This is often the primary reason they've chosen to shop online rather than in-store. Make their experience as simple as possible by offering more delivery and return options.

For the patient consumer, there's standard shipping. For the procrastinating, stressed-out shopper, there's one-day shipping. For the "Oops, I impulse-bought way too much stuff and have regrets" customer, there are free returns. Have an option for every type of person to ensure a stress-free experience for all.

For example, eBay offers its users multiple options for shipping. You can use its flat-fee shipping, which is the standard model, or you can choose calculated shipping, which calculates a fair rate to ship your package. eBay even offers a pickup option where the buyer or seller can come and pick up the item.

online customer retention example, eBay Shipping

Image source

8. Give customers a reason to create an account.

Retain more customers by getting them to create an account. Once they've created an account, they've agreed to start receiving emails, earning rewards, and hearing about your latest products. They've gotten into a mutually beneficial relationship with your brand, which is exactly the kind of relationship you want to build.

However, you must give customers a reason to want an account. First, make the process of signing up as easy as possible by requiring a name, email, and password. Then, offer lots of perks for registered users, such as early access to new products, special discounts, and rewards. Once they're registered, they're likely to stay with your business for a much longer time.

At HubSpot, we have you create an account for any product that you'd like to use. Not only does this help our customer retention, but also it makes it easier for our users to access and integrate our other customer service, marketing, and sales tools.

online customer retention example, HubSpot Account

Keep Customers Coming Back

The more ecommerce customers come back, the better off your brand. Not only are these customers predisposed to make purchases since they're already familiar with your products, but also they're likely to purchase more items, more often. The result is a revenue boost for your business with the commensurate benefit of positive word of mouth.

But great products alone aren't enough to drive ecommerce. To keep customers interested, you need ecommerce customer retention strategies that connect buyers to your brand and offer them a reason to take action, time and time again.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in May 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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