It is a well established fact in the world of business that it costs considerably less to get existing customers to return than it is to find new customers. Once you have established a strong customer base, you want them to come back and shop with you again and again. While there is not one magic strategy for making this happen for your online business, there are a number of factors that can increase your odds. In this article, I outline the following components that you should include in your customer packages to increase the likelihood of fostering return customers:
Consider which options are applicable for your business and then determine how you will customize them to reflect your business.
I would think that this would be a given for any online business, but I receive a not insignificant number of packages from eBay and Etsy sellers without a business card. Even though customers have your information saved in their online accounts, it never hurts to include a business card or two. Many people purchase items online to give as gifts. If I'm gifting a handmade item that I ordered, I always like to include a business card for the recipient in case that person is interested in ordering in the future. You never know when customers who order for themselves will want to pass shop information on to family and friends as well.
I would assume that this is another given for any type of online order, whether it is sent electronically (i.e. a download link via e-mail) or through snail mail. But I actually receive less packages with receipts than without receipts. How would you feel if you ordered a package through Amazon and it didn't include a receipt? Yes, printing a paper receipt does add extra cost to your orders, but it will provide extra accountability for you. If you ship lots of orders and/or ship lots of orders with multiple items, this is especially important.
This may not be a crucial component for certain types of businesses, but if you sell handmade items, I think that it is a must. People shop handmade because they are looking for customer service and a personal touch that many larger companies do not provide. I strongly recommend using handmade cards or cards that you've designed and ordered specifically for your business. It may seem like a hassle, but I get so many comments from customers on Etsy as well as Amazon and eBay about my handwritten notes. You only need to write 2-3 sentences in a note to deliver an effective message for a customer.
Everyone likes coupons, right? Providing an incentive for a future order is a plus for customers. Many sites provide easy methods for creating coupon codes. If you host your own web site for your business, consider researching a method for accepting coupon codes. Free shipping is one of the most well received offers. Alternatively, some people choose to offer % discounts or buy 2 get 1 free offers.
In the past year, I have started giving my random creative customers (both online and at craft shows) a contact information card with my Etsy shop, blog, Facebook fan page, Twitter, and Pinterest URLs. Many online customers may not visit your commerce site directly every day or even every week. Providing other venues that they do check regularly gives you the opportunity to present your merchandise to customers elsewhere as well as network directly with your customers.
Some people always include a free gift with their orders. Typically I include free gifts for holiday promotions, custom orders, and return customers. Additionally, I have a freebie basket with a variety of inexpensive handmade items at my open houses. You can see an example of some small magnet sets that I included as one of my freebie options for an open house. Consider what will make a good free gift for your customers without breaking the bank.
Daisy Rowley - I'm a business coach and digital strategist at DoMyWriting company. My goal in life is to help people be more successful and happier, using the quickest, most efficient path possible.