Loyalty is a big word. Almost every business decision is inspired by the idea of building customer loyalty because it leads to repeat purchases, higher customer satisfaction, enhanced brand recognition, and increased revenues.
In fact, 80 percent of your company’s future revenues will come from just 20 percent of your existing customers (yeah, yeah, the old but gold Pareto rule).
So now, more than ever, it is necessary for e-commerce stores to make customer loyalty at the heart of their strategy. Loyalty means building a strong bond with your customers, and this bond comes from experiencing multiple positive interactions with your brand. Keep in mind that consistency is key.
Having a great product and a beautiful e-commerce website isn’t enough anymore and since almost all the interactions happen online, building a loyal customer base is harder than ever and to do that you’ll need to put all your effort on a more concrete and physical factors (I’ll let you guess which ones it is): Logistics and shipping.
In today’s article, we’ll explore how logistics can help you build a strong relationship with your customers and increase customer loyalty. For that we designed a list of important factor you’ll need to take into consideration:
1. Shipping is a key factor for e-commerce:
Shipping and logistics are a determining factor in the purchase decision of online shoppers, actually, almost half of the shoppers (46%) said that one of the key factors in the online buying decision is a convenient and personalized delivery service, according to a survey by Sorted.
Understanding the importance of logistics and shipping for your e-commerce success and focusing on providing the best delivery experience is the first step for building better and long-lasting relationships with your customers.
2. Forecasting is mandatory:
One of the most frustrating things for customers is to select the product they look for to find it out of stock. To avoid that, you’ll need to master the art of supply and demand. So make sure to commit some time to regularly review your forecast and calculate your safety stock.
Forecasting will help you anticipate future peaks in demand and be fully prepared in terms of supply and production.
Maintaining an accurate inventory is key to ensure success in your operations. For that, you can implement a livestock counter and activate alerts to notify you when an item reaches low numbers.
3. Choose the right logistics provider:
When it comes to managing your logistics, you can either do it in-house or outsource it to a logistics provider. If you opt for the latter option, make sure you choose the right one.
Customers don’t see a difference between the carrier delivering their order and the brand they buy from; for them, it is all the same shopping experience. This means your provider will be a direct reflection of your brand. Your partner’s employees will be the ones facing and interacting with customers when the product is delivered, and their contribution plays a huge part in your customers’ satisfaction.
Since cashiers, shop employees, and other crucial customer-facing roles are removed from the equation in e-commerce, it is important for digital-native brands to choose a provider that communicates the same message and values.
There are many factors to consider while choosing a logistics solution and having a partner that performs at the same standards as yours is crucial for your overall success.
4. Transparency is a must-have:
Loyalty begins with trust and to ensure trust, you’ll need to be 100 percent honest and transparent with your customers.
Customers nowadays think and compare offers before making their buying decisions. To do that, they need to know the exact price of the order (shipping included) before entering their payment details.
To provide maximum transparency, make sure to clearly specify your different shipping options, expected dates for delivery, shipping costs and all the taxes associated with it, and return conditions. This will also allow a smooth checkout process and an increase in conversion rates.
5. Offer different shipping options:
Customers are all different. Some of them have already finished their fall’s shopping by June, while some others didn’t even buy a swimsuit for their next week’s holidays in Spain.
As an e-commerce, you should be able to satisfy both types of customers. Those who perceive time as a luxury they can’t afford and those who have plenty of time (4 or 5 days, don't push it!!) to wait for their shipment to arrive.
To satisfy them, you will have to offer different shipping options. There are many options to explore. You can provide express delivery for your impatient customers or (cheaper) standard delivery for the ones who aren’t in a rush. You can also opt for click and collect or in-store pickup.
Free shipping is also an option you must consider. According to Pitneybowes, 91% of customers leave when shipping isn’t free or fast enough and 79% prefer the shipping to be free rather than fast. So if you can afford it, make sure to offer it as it is a big boost for sales, marketing, and conversion rates.
Another highly important factor to implement is live-tracking. Giving your customers the opportunity to track and see at which stage their order is, is crucial for customer satisfaction. You can set an automatic tracking email to update your customers about their orders.
Remember, customers nowadays are self-centric and they expect you to provide the options that fit in with their lifestyle and needs.
6. Positively surprise your customers:
To convince customers to buy again and again from your e-commerce, you’ll need to stand out (positively!) from the crowd.
Think about a new customer who purchased at your store for the first time and just received their order, if everything went fine, they should already be satisfied. Surprising them with a discount voucher is an invaluable opportunity to upgrade their experience and make them think about their next purchase.
You can add a thank you note (politeness is always better) or gifts like stickers, samples, etc. in your shipments and even if it seems insignificant, adding up all these small gestures will have an undeniable impact on the bond you build with each customer.
Another important trend you should focus on is personalization. Customers nowadays want their purchase to be unique (because they’re unique, aren’t they?). So being able to personalize your packages is an excellent opportunity to prove them that you care and to strengthen your relationship with them.
7. Implement convenient returns processes:
When a customer receives an order and isn’t 100 percent satisfied (or just changed their mind, after all, the customer is always right), they are likely to send it back. While returns aren’t an ideal thing for e-commerce, it is something that cannot be avoided. Thus, the only option that lies before you is to make these returns an opportunity to boost customer satisfaction and loyalty.
According to Invesp, 92% of consumers will buy something again if returns are easy. So easing their return experience will not only help you gather positive reviews but also boost your sales.
The first thing to do is definitely to optimize your products’ pages by including high-quality pictures and detailed descriptions that accurately represent the product. This will help you reduce your return rate.
You also have to build an effective return policy and to make it easily accessible on your website. Make sure to give clear instructions on how returns should be done and don’t forget to highlight the different options that your customers can choose to make their return (along with transparency, flexibility is the cherry on top of the cake).
Don’t forget to include the return label in the parcel, this will save your customers’ time and it will let them handle almost all the process without needing your assistance.
In case they do need your assistance, you should also make your customer service available to answer their inquiries.
Having a smooth and painless return process will increase the trust customers have with your brand and ensure repeat purchases in the future.
8. Ensure a great followup:
Follow up is a must-have if you want to get closer to your customers and show them that you care about them. A few days after the order delivery, send them an email to collect their feedback and gauge their satisfaction.
Keep strengthening the relationship with different emails that highlight your new products, promotions, relevant content, and stories related to your brand and your customer base.
Finally, in order to increase customer loyalty toward your brand, you’ll need first to build trust with your customers and constantly (consistency is key here) nurture the relationship through all the different actions we highlighted above. This will undeniably make you stand out from the crowd and will ensure success for your e-commerce brand.