Today’s shoppers have multiple options when choosing where to buy from. The e-commerce era has made geography less important, which has created an extra challenge for business owners: How can you cultivate a loyal repeat customer base when your audience is freer than ever to shop around?

The answer may reside in tactics that can make customers not just remember your e-commerce offerings, but also return time and again. What do these tactics look like? The following are a good starting point:

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Include Gifts with Purchases

Free merchandise that’s included with a customer’s order has obvious appeal. These items are fun to receive, and they add value relative to your competitors. Of course, the extra cost of adding a free gift with purchase has to factor into your calculations to determine if these items are worth the expense.

Jane Douglas, a contributing writer at Understanding E-Commerce, suggested using small versions of your products as free gifts. Once customers try out these samples, they may come back and buy a full version. This encourages buyers to try out many of your offerings, beyond the ones they’ve already bought. Of course, these samples should be of high quality and not too small – if customers just see them as advertising, they can lose their appeal.

Offer Free Shipping

To make a strong impression on buyers and encourage them to stay loyal, you may want to look at providing free shipping services – if and when it makes sense. The National Retail Federation asked consumers at which price point they expect companies to provide free shipping. Over two-thirds (68%) said businesses should ship for free even if the order in question totals under $50. This is not a pattern among digital-native young customers. Baby boomers make up the group most likely to expect free shipping, according to the NRF.

Use Referrals

Referral programs are a valuable piece of your e-commerce marketing tool kit because they simultaneously target new customers and existing shoppers. Referring a friend to a company in exchange for a coupon or other reward, is a simple and effective concept. The initial customer will make at least one more purchase to take advantage of the reward, and the new buyer is a potential target for future retention efforts.

Forbes contributor Steli Efti described referrals as the most valuable form of marketing, because they require very low overhead, and the new leads coming in are warm, much closer to making a purchase than they would be if discovering your products independently.

Share Fun Video Content

Another potential way to make shoppers more invested in your brand over the long term is to make packaging and logos familiar and memorable. When you ship out items in well-designed boxes and other containers, you aren’t just improving the experience of receiving these items in the mail, you’re also opening the door to potential digital content, especially unboxing videos. Google revealed that 70% of YouTube users are open to learning about products from videos, so this is a valuable source of exposure.

You can choose whether to feature unboxing videos made in-house when a product is released, engage in influencer marketing via sponsored posts or encourage buyers to make their own unboxing videos. Each retailer will have its own sweet spot as far as content creation goes, and the best approach may involve a combination of methods. By making the packaging and unboxing experience part of your overall promotional efforts, you boost loyalty, because no other merchant will offer that exact type of branding.

Focus on Your E-Commerce Site’s Appeal

Identifying the ideal mix of loyalty and retention strategies for your e-commerce site is an important step in improving overall performance. As you expand around the world, these methodologies will have to evolve to suit the new conditions you encounter in each market.

Working with a dedicated e-commerce partner like DHL is one way to maximize your potential, especially when it’s time to make a major revision to your existing policies or undergo a sustained period of growth, such as a cross-border expansion. You can start this process with a targeted e-commerce website health assessment. Programs that deliver increased retention can prove especially pivotal, as your existing loyal customers will provide the financial bedrock your company needs as it grows in scope and ambition.

Contact a DHL e-commerce logistics specialist to determine what your e-commerce business can and should be doing to boost buyer loyalty across the globe.

What is your e-commerce business doing to retain loyal customers? Let us know on Twitter @DHLUS.
Serious about going global? Your brand can reach 220 countries. Get started today.