Selling Successfully (Your One-Stop Resource for Setting Up, Managing and Marketing)

Secret to Success:Repeat Customers

Did you know that it costs nearly 3x more to find and cultivate a brand new customer than it does to keep a current customer and turn them into a repeat customer? That's right. The traditional mail order industry has known this fact for years. It's expensive to send a color catalog to a prospect that's never bought from you, and who may never buy from you, even if they meet your target demographic. Luckily, with the advent of the Internet, the costs of finding new customers are less than printing and mailing 4-color catalogs, but still the concept remains the same. We hear time and again from veteran RL shops that repeat customers are their bread and butter.

Why is this true? It's because you've already done your initial selling to that customer, and you were successful, because they in fact made a purchase. Since they've purchased from you before, they know you - no need to go out and find them and tell your story all over again. Since they already know a bit about your inventory, and they often know exactly what they're looking for, they know you just might have it. Successful businesses have the right product at the right price and most build their business based on relationships. People like to do business with people they know and trust.

So how do you cultivate these repeat customers? Here are a few key tips:

  • Respond quickly and professionally to customer inquiries.
  • Handle returns professionally, always standing behind your product offering, and giving customers the benefit of the doubt when they want to return an item. In fact, you can actually gain a customer when you impress them with how you handle their return. You want to make it easy for a customer to do business with you. This long-term thinking is critical to any successful business venture.
  • Pack orders professionally. Sloppy packing can make an impression on a customer, but not one that is in your favor.
  • Continue to add items to your shop. Customers are most likely to return because they want to see what's new. If they continue to see the exact same offering over time, they will eventually lose interest and move on.
  • Develop a service-oriented approach and make it clear that you appreciate their business. Ask them what else you can do for them. Do they have a special request? Try to accommodate them. And be sure to thank your customers for their business. (This may sound simple, but not everyone remembers to do this.)
  • Ask customers what else they're looking for. Many will tell you, and you can then contact them if/when you locate such an item.

      In short, happy customers come back. And, they tell others about you, which is better than any advertising you can buy!