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Your customers can be placed in two groups: those who buy from you for the first time, and those who have already purchased your products or services in the past and now buy them again. It is one of the golden rules of marketing that converting repeat customers is easier and cheaper than attracting new customers.

How much cheaper? Well, there are so many variables at play, including market, products and customer segment, which make it hard for marketing studies to settle on an exact number. However, it would not be an overstatement to say that a lot cheaper. In fact, according to this article on the value of repeat customers, about five times cheaper.

That makes sense when you think of the money that marketing and advertising campaigns can drain from you, as well as of the time that content marketing such as blogging or social media can eat up. What’s more, many e-commerce stores have but small teams without any marketing and advertising experts among them, which means that they have to hire them, further raising costs.

If repeat customers are so important for your e-commerce business, how can you get them? Here are a few ideas that can inspire you to turn existing customers into repeat customers.

  1. Free shipping – This is often the key factor that determines whether a customer proceeds to checkout or abandons their cart. In retail shops, people don’t have to pay for shipping. Many of the world’s best e-commerce sites, Amazon included, offers free shipping, if not globally, at least nationwide. Finding a way to offer free shipping on all products is probably the best strategy to encourage repeat customers to buy your products.
  1. Discounts for existing customers – For discounts to be effective, segmenting and targeting are necessary — you can’t just mass email them at your audience and hope for the best.
  1. Optimized stock – Use a software inventory management solution to optimize your stock and make it more appealing for returning customers. Maintaining an optimized stock that you choose based on customer purchase patterns and demand while taking into account data from a solution providing forecasting for small business is another way to encourage repeat customers.
  1. Loyalty programs – These may include special bonus points for returning customers. For example, for each order placed, your returning customers receive a number of loyalty points, which they can use to discount their next order. Even if the discounts are just 2% or 3%, they can be a good incentive for returning customers.
  1. Meaningful newsletters – Instead of spamming your email subscribers with offers, try to connect with them on a deeper level, taking them behind the scenes and highlighting only a few key offers. A more personal approach to marketing in general is a great way to win over repeat customers.
  1. Simple Logins – Don’t put customers through a 15-minute long, multi-page registration process. Instead, enable them to log into your website effortlessly through their Facebook, Google+, or Twitter accounts.

In the end, remember that not having the right stock on hand can discourage repeat customers. A software inventory management solution like DataQlick helps you deal with that problem and prevent it from reoccurring.