It is widely recommended that the customer should not be forced to sign up in the e-shop, but there is one very important reason why many online shops require mandatory registration. That reason is based on a fact that retaining current customers is more profitable than acquiring new ones. Therefore, customer loyalty became one of the major goals of many business organizations as it can provide stable and relatively safe profit stream. However, retaining clients in extremely competitive global markets and, especially online markets, can be very challenging and demanding task.
There are many possible ways to increase your customer’s loyalty in e-commerce, such as various loyalty programs and buyers’ clubs. Here are some most commonly used methods in e-commerce:
- Customers can get discounts depending on the accumulated amount that they spent in the online store (e.g. when the accumulated amount reaches €100, you get 10% discount for one purchase).
- Partner program. Clients, who came to shop along with partner recommendations, get better conditions and offers.
- Better product delivery conditions (e.g. free delivery, faster delivery than to ordinary clients, etc.)
- Discounts and special offers for customers, who subscribe newsletters by emails or follow the online store on Facebook, Twitter, Google plus and other social networks.
- Special shopping conditions and discounts for frequent buyers (e.g. you get 7% discount for your second purchase in a single month).
- Virtual money or points, which you can use to buy products in the specific online store. This program is similar to previously mentioned discounts depending on the accumulated spending amount. However, in this case customer gets electronic money or points depending on the accumulated amount he or she spends in the e-shop (e.g. when the accumulated amount reaches €100, you get €10 of virtual money that you can use in the online store).
- Additional or expanded services (e.g. if you buy a computer with operational system, you can purchase a new operational system cheaper, when it comes out).
- Recycling program. Customers, who give back their products for recycling, get some bonus or a discount to purchase the new product cheaper.
Every client likes to be treated in a special way. Try to show that reliable and loyal client is more important than the new one by creating special shopping conditions. Organize lotteries and games for the most active customers as well as invite members of the buyers club to presentations of new products. Loyalty programs are much more than earlier presented list, but even those programs helped to attract part of the customers to shop in the particular online store once more. Try to remember that true loyalty is impossible without affection. Therefore, the buyer should be able to receive not just a simple shopping service but an additional value as well. However, it is clear that every loyalty program should provide economic surplus for the company.
In practice it is widely perceived that loyalty programs solve or even eliminate such problems as low quality products, overpriced products or poor choice, availability and service in the online store. However, it is not a right perception as the real economic value of the loyalty program comes from different aspects, such as higher and more stable profitability, reduced promotion costs, higher income per customer and gained competitive advantage.
According to academic research, customer loyalty programs can provide major economic value for the company. However, it is only possible if the program is created in a clearly structured methodological process, which is tested and based on actual data. Therefore, development of customer loyalty programs should be one of the highest priority processes in organization.