Comeback Communications: Retention Strategies for Retailers in a Post-Pandemic World


For many online retailers, acquiring new customers during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a relatively easy task. Store closures and stay-at-home mandates in the UK saw ecommerce reach a record high of 22.3% of all retail sales in March, representing an overall year-on-year increase of 12.5%.

Department stores, household goods stores and supermarkets all saw a significant increase in online sales. But as lockdown restrictions start to ease and non-essential stores start to reopen, how can digital retailers keep newly acquired customers engaged?

Here, Movable Ink’s client strategy team shares 3 tactics that retail marketers can employ to onboard and retain new customers.

To learn more about how marketers are re-imagining retail experiences in a post-pandemic world, subscribe to Ink Tank, the vodcast by Movable Ink.

Get to know your customers

Don’t assume that customers acquired within the same timeframe have the same needs and motivations. Take the time to understand your customers’ interests on a one-to-one level using progressive profiling via live polling in your onboarding program.

For multi-category retailers like department stores, understanding your customer’s favorite brands or categories can help you target content in future communications. Meanwhile for grocers, recognizing customers’ dietary preferences and goals – from veganism to cooking for the family – can ensure that you’re speaking to the customer with relevancy in future. In this example, Next introduced email subscribers to their new SS20 Gym Collection, collecting the activity preferences of their customers for use in a follow up email.

As a final touchpoint in an onboarding program, consider offering a time-bound discount or introductory offer for the category or item that the consumer highlighted as preferential to them. Movable Ink’s partnerships with solutions like AgileOne allow marketers to easily include a highly personalized next-best offer to their customers.

Power up your abandonment program

As consumers spend more time at home with their devices, browsing online has seen a significant spike, with Shopify’s CEO citing “Black Friday levels of traffic” since lockdown began. But with that increase in browsing, there has also been an increase in abandonment too. In March 2020, 84% of online carts were abandoned, up from 73% in March 2019.

When reminding shoppers of the product they left behind, take the opportunity to reassure customers of their choices via social proof. In the below example, Currys PC World used social proofing to show the number of views on two products within the same category as the product the customer abandoned. Similarly, customer reviews can also be leveraged to reinforce shoppers’ choices. Our integrations with review platforms BazaarVoice and TrustPilot make it easier than ever to pull in dynamic star ratings and review content in email real-time.

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Retailers should also test adding stock availability in abandoned cart messages to introduce a sense of urgency, particularly where stock levels are low. For multi-channel retailers, use abandonment triggers to show stock availability in local stores by pulling-in live product inventory from the customer’s nearest brick-and-mortar location. Accurate, up-to-the-minute inventory information will help prevent shopper frustrations.

Cross-sell and post-purchase

Once a customer has re-engaged, retailers should continue to use data to create a custom post-purchase experience and drive brand loyalty. Consider including look-a-like recommendations to introduce customers to similar items based on their browse behaviour or better still, allow customers to supplement their recent order with products or content that complement their purchase. 

Our integration with FindMine allows retailers in fashion, home goods and beauty to provide pairing recommendations, in many ways replicating the advice shoppers would expect from a store associate in a brick and mortar forum. Reebok uses FindMine to power their “complete the look” feature on their website, and wanted to include the same functionality in their purchase confirmation emails.

In this example, Movable Ink connected to the FindMine API to help Reebok pull in “complete the look” products for a seamless email experience to create complete outfits.

Alternatively, crop relevant content from your website, social media (via integrations with Olapic and Curalate) or blog to show customers how to get the best use from their new purchase. For beauty retailers, sharing UGC or tutorials can help inspire customers whilst for supermarkets, sharing recipes using ingredients in the customer’s most recent order can engage and encourage repeat purchases. 

To learn more about Movable Ink’s partner integrations, visit the Exchange.

About Becki Francis

Prior to joining Movable Ink, Becki worked client-side in a variety of marketing and CRM roles within apparel and cosmetics retailers. She joins from Revolution Beauty, where she managed the brand’s digital marketing activity and global retention strategy. Prior to that, Becki led the CRM team at House of Fraser, focussing on the rollout of a series of highly automated lifecycle programs.