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A how to guide from the UK's leading online auction house on increasing customer retention.
4 Mins

How to increase customer retention

Jess Gibson
Jess Gibson

With lots of people throwing their hats into the selling ring and providing every type of product that can be dreamed up, encouraging customers to stick with you and return over and over again can be tricky. This is particularly true these days since the internet has become the most popular marketplace in which to shop.

Customers are picky and just one bad experience – plus a whole lot of word-of-mouth – can give you a bad reputation that sticks. This causes you to potentially lose existing customers and prevent new ones; less than ideal when we all know that a good base of customers who frequently return is a huge leap along the success trail.

But in this age of abundance with new shops and sellers popping up all the time, what steps can you take to increase customer retention?

Quality and quantity

You might have heard that quality over quantity is the name of the game, right? That’s true but quantity is also important!

When you’re selling stock, you can be the purveyor of high-quality items to build up your initial customer base, and then, with regular stock updates featuring equally high-quality items, forge a reputation as a trustworthy seller. If customers know that you are reliable in terms of both quantity and quality, they’re much more likely to search you out and purchase from you regularly.

Consistency is vital

This is true whether selling via online auctions or elsewhere. Consistency can’t be overvalued. Providing the same delivery, fee structure and service level for every sale is a great way of demonstrating that you’re consistent in terms of cost and quality.

Nothing disappoints a customer more than services or costs that are unpredictable, and they’ll soon learn to avoid relying on you in future if this turns out to be the case. Maintaining the same cost expectations and service standards, however, will win you a whole host of loyal customers who’ll return again and again.  

Make things memorable

The key in an overcrowded and ever-growing market is to stand out and build memorability; the more memorable you are, the faster you’ll come to mind when a consumer ventures on a spending spree.

Ordinarily, most burgeoning brands will spend their time focusing on establishing branding and marketing strategies that are costly but unique. In the online auction world, though, it’s less about branding and more about marketing. This is because consumers tend to rely more on the image and description of lot catalogues than individual sellers.

If you’re selling, for example, bathroom fittings and accessories on a regular basis, your potential customers (likely plumbers and small construction firms) would probably appreciate a little nudge to remind them of your auctions and upcoming stock. A timely email reminding consumers of the auction details – and a link to the catalogue – is a great way of increasing customer retention.

With William George, we look after the marketing for you, whether that be communicating to our database of keen bidders or capturing the attention of your target market via a Facebook campaign.

Read the market

As always, research is essential. This helps you to work out the lie of the land, hit upon new, ongoing, and upcoming trends, and get a feel for consumers’ needs and wants.

Going in blind means that you could not only fail to build a large customer base who’ll return time and time again, but you’ll also end up with an excess of unsellable stock gathering dust. Doing some research, on the other hand, will help you to make informed decisions when it comes to the baseline bidding price and help you work out what items are most popular and profitable.

Be available

Customers remember two types of service: bad and over-and-above.

It’s worth noting that, when discussing the excellent experiences they’ve had, customers will frequently discuss how easily contactable, friendly, and available the seller was. Never underestimate how much of an impact your availability for each query has, and the positivity generated by a friendly response.

To take the hassle out of customer service we handle any queries potential buyers may have, acting as an intermediary, handling queries efficiently and in a professional manner, and only contacting you should we really need to. This means less admin work for you as a seller and a seamless service for consumers.

Success doesn’t always come overnight; it’ll take some time to convince and demonstrate to your audience that you’re a seller to stick with. But this shouldn’t put you off – once you’ve built your core base, the rewards are worthwhile, and you can focus on doing what you do best: selling.

To find out more, check out our Seller Hub!