This year, one of the most popular topics at online industry conferences such as eTail and Shop.org’s FirstLook has been the development of customer loyalty in the fickle medium of the world wide web. While returning visitors are the norm for sites like Amazon and eBay, for the most part savvy internet shoppers bounce from eshop to e-shop in search of the best deals and the latest products. First and foremost, bringing a customer back requires excellent customer service. But, as these sites illustrate, a little extra incentive can do wonders when you’re trying to attract repeat business.
Free shipping on all orders worldwide makes this international cosmetics retailer a good bet any day of the week, but it’s the site’s Loyalty Bonus program that gives customers a reason to come back. The site offers escalating discounts automatically with each successive order, meaning long-time customers are directly rewarded for returning with extra savings.
Partly due to its easy-to-remember name, this popular online drugstore has little trouble drawing first-time visitors, but it still finds itself competing with the convenience of the local corner store. It uses a more aggressive approach to offer discounts, running software that uses a customer’s previous orders to predict when he or she will need to restock on certain products, then sends targeted emails offering that customer special coupon codes to inspire a return visit.
This national pet store chain takes a more direct approach to winning a customer’s future business: taking the order now. Recognizing a pet owner’s need to constantly replenish supplies of food and other essentials, the site’s Bottomless Bowl feature schedules regular delivery at discounted rates, meaning the customer saves money while experiencing the ultimate convenience of one less errand to perform each month.
The increasingly competitive MP3 download market has inspired this unique music retailer to take a different approach to keeping its business. For a flat monthly subscription fee, customers commit to buy a fixed amount of music files each month. In return, they are charged as little as a twenty-two cents per track, significantly less than the standard rate of a dollar. The site’s business plan itself is designed around establishing customer loyalty, without which few stores will ever achieve long-term success.