How to retain customers and nurture loyalty in eCommerce

May 24, 2024

Serge Khmelovskyi

CEO, Co-Founder at COAX


“It is amazing what customers will do for you if they believe you care about them,” says Peter Shankman, Founding Editor at AOL. Loyalty in e-commerce is not just created, it’s earned. If your customers feel like a part of an exclusive club where they're treated like royalty, showered with perks, and get a backstage pass to their favorite brand, they will keep coming back again and again. Still, the average retail and e-commerce customer loyalty and retention is only 63%. In this comprehensive guide, we will find a unique way for you to turn casual shoppers into die-hard devotees.

How to know your shoppers to supercharge customer loyalty and retention

Knowing is winning, and the key to improving customer retention is understanding how your users behave and what drives them to choose you – or NOT choose you. Let’s start with a saddening fact: only 3 out of 10 customers remain loyal to a single brand for at least a year. 

Of course, new customer acquisition is important, especially for growing brands. However, customer retention statistics prove that loyalty is more important.

build customer loyalty

Why even bother building customer loyalty?

The numbers don't lie – increasing customer retention by 5% can boost returns by at least 25%. How is this working? Simply put, people spend more on what they’ve known and loved for years. 57% of consumers buy more from brands they're loyal to, so the value of enhancing customer loyalty cannot be overstated. So, based on customer loyalty insights, retention is vital. But what does the eCommerce environment say about it?

71% of retail businesses consider loyalty program memberships important for their brand. 

It’s not only about establishing a warm and emotional connection with your target audience – the cost of acquiring new customers has raised by 50% over the last 5 years. Therefore, prioritizing customer retention is logical and profitable. 

Now that we have explained the value of customer loyalty and retention for your business, let’s delve into the customer lifecycle stage to help you achieve it.

When is the prime opportunity for you to boost customer retention and loyalty?

When deciding how much time and money to spend on keeping existing customers versus finding new ones, it all depends on how established your online business is. 

If you're just starting, forget about customer loyalty for now – you can't keep customers you don't have yet! Your main priority should be:

  1. Getting new shoppers through the virtual door with burning deals 
  2. Seamless checkout and payment process 
  3. Competitive products or services that prove your worth

These are your first steps to build customer loyalty at the initial stage.

As your eCommerce store gains traction and the steady stream of fresh faces turns into a pool of return visitors, it's time to turn one-time buyers into loyal repeat customers. Among the retention strategies, something as simple as setting up an automated email campaign to reengage past shoppers or rolling out a basic rewards program can work wonders.

Once you hit that 5-year milestone, boosting your customer loyalty and retention should take top priority, with roughly equal resources dedicated to customer retention and new customer acquisition. The goal now shifts from just making that initial sale to maximizing the lifetime value of each buyer through personalized loyalty-building marketing retention strategies tailored to your most valuable customer segments. 

Customer retention vs customer loyalty: What’s the difference?

On the surface, customer retention and loyalty might sound like the same thing – keeping your buyers happy enough to keep returning to you. But there's an important distinction between the two that businesses need to understand. Let’s check it.

Customer retention in a nutshell

Customer retention is all about implementing retention strategies and marketing tactics to encourage repeat purchases and minimize customer churn. It's ensuring your existing customers stick around and continue choosing YOU over competitors.

Customer retention metrics look at harder numbers like repeat purchase rates and churn data. Logically, reducing churn leads to a higher retention rate. Example? Ikea focuses on customer success as the main goal to increase retention and boost confidence with interactive, helpful videos.

how to retain customers

What is customer loyalty?

Customer loyalty goes deeper. It's about creating a genuine emotional connection and preference for your brand. Unlike customer retention, where you have to dangle carrots like discounts and incentives, loyal customers will keep buying from you regardless – even if you raise prices! Building this devotion is the real key to maximizing customer lifetime value. After all, it's a lot easier selling to someone who's already enamored with your brand.

Measuring customer loyalty relies more on qualitative factors like online reviews, user-generated content, and surveys that gauge emotional sentiment. The best way to build customer loyalty is through exceptional customer experiences that make an emotional impact.

For example, Auchan Retail created an online loyalty program called "We Move Forward Together." A lively customer community forum, surveys, exclusive discounts, customized offers, and early access to new product launches catered to individual buying preferences are all included.

How to calculate the customer retention rate

For steady growth, you should track several essential customer retention metrics and loyalty insights. The percentage of clients you've kept over a certain period can show your customer retention rate. The customer retention rate formula is [(E-N)/S] x 100, where E is the total number of customers at the end, N is the number of new customers you've gained, and S is the number of initial customers. A 50% retention rate indicates you lost half your customers.

The amount of profit an average client brings in throughout their association with you is shown by their customer lifetime value or CLV. The higher the CLV, the more loyal they are. Although there isn't a single formula for calculating CLV, CLV = Average Purchase Value x Average Purchase Frequency x Average Customer Lifespan is a popular method.

how to calculate customer retention rate

To have a clear vision of the efficiency of your customer retention efforts, you should measure your customer acquisition costs and divide CLV by this sum. If the result is less than 1, you need to improve your campaigns and make better efforts to retain customers. Results from 1 to 3 are considered good. If it’s more than 3, it’s a sign of solid customer loyalty retention!

customer retention rate formula

While quantitative metrics like retention rates and CLV are important, they just tell part of the full story. That's where feedback metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS) come in. Divide customers into Promoters (loyal enthusiasts), Passives, and Detractors based on their likelihood to recommend you (0-10 scale). The formula to calculate your NPS is Percentage of Promoters - Percentage of Detractors = NPS.

Our eCommerce and retail clients’ average NPS is 9.5, which is quite high. We’re proud that our work brings real value through impeccable technology solutions. Find out more about our retail and eCommerce software development expertise.

customer retention software

How to boost customer retention with tools and metrics

Powerful tools like Google Analytics 4 (GA4) help you gauge the success of your customer retention strategies more easily. Let's break down how to use GA4's capabilities:

  • Use the "Retention" section that calculates metrics like "customer retention rate" and "churn rate" for you.
  • Connect the dots from acquisition to repeat purchases to see where you're winning brand loyalty or need to improve customer retention.
  • Create custom user segments based on criteria like purchase frequency or inactivity periods. Track engagement signals like survey responses, support tickets, product usage
  • Unify your GA4 data with Google Ads, track customer lifetime value, and optimize your ad spend.
  • Consider third-party solutions like Hotjar to collect feedback, Mixpanel to segment customer groups, or Klaviyo to send emails to increase customer loyalty.

The expertise of a specialized product marketing company helps you better understand customer retention metrics by leveraging advanced customer tools and retention marketing strategies. It will also allow you to identify churn risks, optimize touchpoints, and develop customer journeys to increase user experience.

At COAX, we have a product-centered approach to ensure your customer retention strategy is focused on underlining the core value proposition. We cover everything from customer retention strategy to content marketing that strengthens your brand affinity. Our experts dig deep into the analytics to pinpoint drivers of loyalty, running A/B tests to measure customer loyalty and retention. COAX specializes in eCommerce marketing that ensures your maximum ROI.

Three customer retention strategies and examples to learn from

44% of companies still don't calculate their customer retention rate. The ones that do it and adjust their strategies accordingly stand out significantly. Let’s see three examples of how companies measure and boost customer loyalty and retention, with practical advice on how to improve customer loyalty with effective strategies.

  1. Implement a targeted and easy-to-join loyalty program that offers valuable rewards tailored to customer preferences.

The Sephora Beauty Insider loyalty program offers purchase points, exclusive discounts and gifts, product recommendations, and an online community forum. It has been highly successful, boasting 17 million members in North America alone, accounting for 80% of sales.

  1. Positive customer service experiences impact customer loyalty and retention.

To improve customer retention metrics, train your customer service team to be knowledgeable, empathetic, and proactive in addressing customer concerns. Example? Nordstrom is famous for its amazing customer service, which includes easy returns, responsive support, and going above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction.

  1. Personalize your customer experience using data analytics to understand behavior, preferences, and purchase history. 

This data, together with advanced customer retention software, creates relevant interactions through each channel. Companies like Amazon use content-based filtering, AI integrations, and NLP techniques to deliver personalized product recommendations. In this competition, consider creating custom solutions laser-cut to your brand. At COAX, we can empower you with customer retention tools and integrations that set you apart from the market. 

Customer loyalty in eCommerce: Keep them, don’t leave them

Retaining existing customers is less pricey and more profitable than acquiring new ones, customer loyalty and retention are more important than customer acquisition. To enhance customer loyalty, focus on different strategies at different stages. New businesses should prioritize attracting new customers, while established companies should prioritize retaining them. 

Also, metrics do matter! To track your progress and expansion, we provided you with indicators like Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), and Customer Retention Rate. Google Analytics, third-party integrations, and personalized retention marketing strategies help deliver targeted messages to your consumers to turn them into lifelong fans. 

And remember: prioritizing emotional connections through customer service, loyalty programs, and rewards helps build genuine customer loyalty that lasts for years. At COAX, we can help you define areas to use custom retention marketing strategies and develop these strategies, too.


How can you explain the value of customer loyalty and retention?

These metrics are valuable as retaining existing customers is more profitable than acquiring new ones. Loyal customers spend more, and increasing customer retention by 5% can boost profits by 25%.

What is the customer retention rate formula?

To calculate the customer retention rate, use the following formula:

[(E-N)/S] x 100, where E is the total customers at the end, N is new customers acquired, and S is the starting customers.

How to measure customer loyalty?

Customer loyalty is measured through qualitative metrics — online reviews, user-generated content, surveys, and the Net Promoter Score (NPS) — which gauge customer sentiment and the likelihood of recommending the brand.

What retention strategies can I use?

Implement a loyalty program, provide exceptional customer service with easy returns and great support, personalize the customer experience through data analytics, and use targeted marketing campaigns to re-engage past customers.

How to increase customer loyalty?

Focus on building emotional connections through loyalty programs and rewards that emphasize the importance of each customer, and create experiences tailored to customer preferences and behaviors, purchases, and browsing history.

Heading 1

Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 4

Heading 5
Heading 6

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur.

Block quote

Ordered list

  1. Item 1
  2. Item 2
  3. Item 3

Unordered list

  • Item A
  • Item B
  • Item C

Text link

Bold text