7 Tried and Tested Tips to Keep Customers Coming Back to Your Store

You’ve worked hard to acquire your customers. You’ve likely spent a lot of resources marketing your business, raising awareness, and getting people to walk through your doors. The question is, how do you get them to come back?

To answer that, we did our research and caught up with a few retailers to get their take on turning one-time buyers into repeat customers. Have a look at what we found:

Offer instant gratification

“The best way to bring people back to your store is to incentivize their visits, and give them instant gratification on each visit,” says Haute House CEO & on-air fashion expert Jordan Landes-Brenman.

“That means either issuing them a promo code, discount on their next purchase, buy one get one free if they return, or putting some sort of membership in place where they receive regular discounts on purchases that grow every time they purchase something in-store.”

The key is making customers feel rewarded or that they’re getting something of value whenever they walk through your doors.

Flourish Boutique in Granger, IN implements this quite well. According to its CEO Vanessa Cooreman Smith, they offer weekly sales or coupons, and these incentives have been instrumental in driving traffic to their store.

Smith notes that retailers don’t have to slash prices too much when enticing customers. “You can be creative with coupons and discounts,” she adds. Merchants, for instance, can choose to apply discounts only on specific products or brands, and upsell other items when customers are already inside the store.

Turn your shop into a destination rather than just a store

Discounts and points can certainly give people reasons to come back, but aside from enticing them with “stuff,” be sure to give them great experiences as well. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by hosting events.

Smith says that the strategy has been effective in driving traffic to Flourish Boutique. “We love a good excuse for a party! Whether it’s a seasonal open house or a fashion show, we look for ways to have events at the store to get people to come in. We’ve even had a wine and canvas night at the store and it was a huge hit!”

In addition, you can consider providing in-store services to give people additional reasons to come back. Take for example, Home Depot. On top of selling home improvement merchandise, the retailer also has services such as key cutting, tool rental, truck rental, and free WiFi.

Not sure what types of experiences to offer? As we mentioned previously,  the “right” customer experience strategy will depend on your products, your store, and your shoppers. It’s essential that you know all three like the back of your hand so you can come up with the best offerings possible.

To give you a better idea, here are some of the common experiences that keep people coming back:

  • Treasure hunts (e.g., discovering a cool product or an amazing deal)
  • Face to face customer service (e.g., having knowledgeable associates explain products)
  • Constant reinvention (e.g., coming to a store and finding new things or experiences)
  • Community (e.g., attending classes or events)
  • Product-building (e.g., personalizing items, building products or purchase bundles)
  • Services (e.g., coming in for a makeover or personal shopping advice)
  • Retailtainment (e.g., finding attractions or entertaining experiences)

Stay in touch

Stay on your customers’ radar through occasional emails and reminders. If you know their date of birth, for example, send them a birthday greeting (along with a special offer).

And if you haven’t done so yet, upgrade your loyalty program so that it helps you keep in touch with shoppers. It’s not enough that you give customers a rewards card and send them on their way. You have to be more proactive about reminding them to collect points or redeem their rewards.

Starbucks does this well. The coffee company is always coming up with different ways and angles to get their members to earn and redeem their rewards. In the month of December alone, I received 15 emails from Starbucks Rewards, containing offers such as:

  • Bonus starts (i.e., rewards) for coming in during that particular week
  • Buy one get one (and earn starts/rewards) in the process
  • Starbucks for Life giveaway that gives members a chance to win tons of extra rewards plus a variety of prizes including free Starbucks for life
  • Double rewards on almost every purchase
  • Happy hour offers

Admittedly, Starbucks sends a lot of emails, and your strategy won’t be as aggressive, but their effort is still commendable. It takes creativity and commitment to keep members engaged, and that’s something many merchants can pick up from the company.

Make e-commerce work for you

Smith also advises retailers to have an online store. “Having a website is hard work, but our in-store traffic exploded once we had the e-tail version.” She said that their customers “love being able to window shop online and then come in to try things on and get the feel it/touch it experience.”

Flourish boutique also offers free in-store pickups for their local customers, and this has helped them drive repeat visits. [The in-store pickup service] brings people into the store and they often end up buying more.

Vend Tip

Need help getting your ecommerce ducks in a row? Vend’s integration with Shopify and WooCommerce will help ensure that your online and brick-and-mortar stores are tightly connected. You can also work with an ecommerce integrator to connect other online systems including Magento and BigCommerce.

Learn More

Know your customers and cultivate relationships

What are the likes and dislikes or your customers? What do they have to say about your store? Find the answers to these questions and tailor each shopper’s experience based on their feedback and preferences.

For instance, if you know that a particular customer always likes it when you double bag their purchases, offer to do it for them, instead of waiting for the shopper to ask. Doing so not only earns you bonus points for thoughtfulness, it also makes the customer feel more valued — and that is a compelling enough reason for them to come back.

Understandably, it can be difficult to keep tabs on every single shopper, especially if you have hundreds or thousands of customers, which is why it pays to have good customer management tools on your side.

However, you should at the very least know who your regular customers are. Identify your top spenders and most frequent shoppers then build relationships with them. Studies have shown that repeat customers are easier to sell to and usually end up spending more, compared to new ones. Clearly, your regulars are the best types of customers to have, so it’s essential that you recognize and take care of them.

Engage with customers on social media

According to Flourish Boutique’s Vanessa Cooreman Smith, social media has also been a huge driver of in-store traffic for them. Everyone uses social media daily,” she says. “Making sure you have a presence on these platforms ensures you are being seen by your customers.”

“Even better: use contests and giveaways periodically to gain new fans and reach more people organically.”

Note: We’ve talked about social media several times on the blog, so rather than rehashing the things we’ve previously discussed, we recommend checking out the following posts:

Be socially responsible

Another approach is to embrace corporate social responsibility and give back to the community. Take Evelyn & Arthur, an apparel company based in South Florida with eight locations across the state.

The retailer regularly takes part in charitable initiatives in their areas. They participate in dozens of fashion shows for the many nonprofit organizations in each community they have a store in, they host in store shopping events with sales benefitting the nonprofits, and provide clothing and gift certificates.

According to owner Adrianne Weissman their goodwill helps generate repeat business “as shoppers want to know the money they are spending is not going into one person’s pocket, [but] is truly making a difference in the community they live in.”

Industry data supports this. A survey by Neilsen found that 66% of respondents were willing to spend more money on socially-conscious, sustainable brands. Millennials, in particular, love CSR, with 81% saying that they would support businesses that demonstrate good corporate citizenship.

Further Reading

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out Vend’s guide to increasing sales. This handy resource offers 10 proven tactics for boosting retail sales and improving your bottom line.

Specifically, you will:

  • Discover how to turn savvy shoppers into loyal customers
  • Learn how to add real and perceived value to each sale
  • Discover the most effective ways to set yourself apart from your competitors

    Learn More

Your turn

Got some thoughts on how retailers can drive repeat visitors? Give us a shoutout on Twitter or Facebook!


About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.