Is your website creating repeat customers?


Getting people to buy from you is easier the second time around. But was that first sale a fluke or is your site really creating repeat customers?

Knowing why customers shop at familiar sites is the key to selling more of your product or service and better profits. The fact that someone bought from you earlier doesn't guarantee that he/she will do so again. A mailer that informs the customer of new arrivals may not result in a sale. Why? The circumstances of that first purchase might have been influenced by numerous factors and the customer may have made many allowances at your site at the time of purchase. For example - the urgency factor - in many cases this overrides normal rational behavior and may result in a purchase.

As we know, the buying process on the web is different from that in the real world. Factors like human interaction, trust, physical inspection / sampling of the product, the reassurance of seeing fellow shoppers and the knowledge that the vendor can be easily reached again in the event of the product not delivering what it promised, are absent. The web shopping experience has to compensate for this and try to recreate these in order to make a sale.

Does your site have what it takes or was that first sale just luck?

Creating a online shopping experience that will keep the buyer coming back for more.

1) Ease of finding what they are looking for. Did they stumble on it the first time?

  • Does your website have an advanced search feature with clear and simple navigation that will act as a sales person and lead the buyer to exactly what he is looking for.

  • Do you display what you normally sell but don't have in stock at the moment - if so clearly indicate the availability. This will save the buyer time and he/she will appreciate the fact that you valued this enough by alerting him/her in advance. The customer as a result will also probably make a mental note that you normally stock this item and could return at a future date.

  • Options of the product service should be easily accessible. This could be eg. sizes, colors and accessories at a garment retailing site.

2) The trust factor - was it established the first time?

  • Professional site design plays a huge role in reassuring a customer on the web. Try avoiding the use of free clipart, images and templates which tend to show up all over the place and is the hallmark of a thrifty establishment.

  • If you sell brands that have a good equity in the real world, try to display their logos prominently and by association generate an ambience of stability

  • Use certified payment processors and secure servers for your shopping cart and display their logos.

  • Display testimonials with links to customer sites who have used your product/service. When possible use e-mail address so that customers know that these are real people.

  • Popularity of each product if mentioned will in some cases influence the purchase.

  • A wide range cues a committed and growing business - so keep adding on to your product line.

3) The buying process - was it painless the first time?

  • Provide sample screen shots, invoices and delivery schedules to eliminate any guessing about the buying process.

  • Have a 24 hr helpline if you can afford one or at least some kind of customer support even if it is just a detailed FAQ page

  • For customers using slow internet connections which may break suddenly - assurance is a must on every page. This can be achieved by sending a series of e-mails at each stage of the purchase.

  • Show number of shoppers currently online. Better still also show past customers currently online.

4) Incentives - are they there to encourage repeat purchases?

  • Discounts - Can you pass on any discounts to your customers? If you can, do so - others are.

  • Gifts for referrals.

  • Do you have a Free Trial or a Money Back Guarantee? These boost confidence in your product and serve to quell any reservations a customer may have about buying.

5) Relationships - is your customer still a stranger?

  • Welcome a past customer by name. This can be done easily by using cookies.

  • Storing and displaying details of a previous purchase acts a bond building device.

  • If you have their e-mail addresses then what are you doing to build a relationship? Have you told them about a festival discount? Have you wished them on their birthday?

So as you see creating repeat customers is about understanding, implementing and maintaining an easy and friendly web shopping experience. A potential repeat customer comes to you with a more receptive mindset so ensure everything is just right to keep it that way.

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