How to Turn Hard-Won Holiday Shoppers into Loyal Year-Round Customers

Posted by Murray Sye

on Fri, Jan 9, 2015 @ 12:48 PM


Whether you're a behemoth like Walmart, or a small local retailer, first-rate customer service is essential all-year round, but it's especially important during the holiday season.

For many retailers the bustling holiday shopping season is a make-or-break time of year. For some, as much as 40% of their annual sales are concentrated in the last two months of the year.

Attracting new customers can be difficult, so why not take a few steps today to retain those holiday customers and make them loyal year-round customers.

Give your customers a great first experience
Whether it's in-store or online, you only have one chance to make a great first impression. During the bustling holiday season it was important to have well-trained, knowledgeable staff working on the front line. Although it's a wrap for the holiday season, you might consider keeping as many of these trained staff on.

Target extended its hours during the holiday season and Walmart made a "Checkout Promise," in which it promised to keep all of its front-end registers open at peak times.

Exceeding customer expectations is a great way to encourage holiday shoppers to use your business again, whether it's faster delivery times or small gifts included with a purchase.

Sometimes it's the little things
Who doesn't enjoy getting a little unexpected gift now and then? So why not include a little bonus for the gift-giver.

That's just what several companies did this holiday season. Many retailers added some sort of bonus with each gift card purchase.

Company's such as Applebee's gave a $10 bonus card when customers bought $50 in gift cards. But it doesn't always have to be another gift card. At Jamba Juice, customers who bought a $25 gift card received a free small smoothie. And customers who purchased $25 in gift cards at Papa John's enjoyed a free large one-topping pizza.

Make it customizable and accessible
According to Deloitte, 84% of shoppers use digital tools before and during their trip to a store, and those shoppers convert at a 40% higher rate than those not using digital devices while shopping. So even if your customers are making their actual purchases in your physical storefront, it's essential to make their digital experience pleasant as well.

Target's Cartweel app makes it easy for shoppers to find coupons persoanlized to their needs and interests. To date, shoppers have saved nearly $170 million by using Cartwheel.


eCommerce giant, Amazon, has been personalizing its customers' shopping experiences for years. Using an algorithm based on previous purchases, Amazon suggests items called "Your Recommendations" that may be of interest to its customers. Shoppers can also set up a "Wish List," for future purchases they'd like to make or to share with others.


No-hassle shipping and stellar return policies
It may seem counter-intuitive for a store to encourage returns, but it's all about giving your customers a positive experience. You want them to be happy with their purchase otherwise they're unlikely to be repeat customers.

Stores, such as Nordstrom and Zappos offer free returns on all items. Both companies include a pre-paid return shipping label – so you don't have to fret if those jeans you bought for your sister are too tight, or those Nikes are three sizes too small for your little nephew. An easy return may simply turn into an exchange and a satisfied customer who is willing to shop at your store again.


A positive delivered experience can also encourage year-round customers. Over 10 million new customers tried out Amazon Prime this holiday season, which will no doubt lead to more purchases throughout the year.

No opportunity wasted
It's important to make use of every opportunity with a customer. Whether they've ordered something online or made a purchase in your store, you want to build a relationship with them and encourage repeat buying.

With deliveries, you alread have a foot in the door, so why not take advantage of this opportunity by including a new brochure and some coupons encouraging a next purchase.

Emails are a great way to keep in touch with your customers throughout the year. By gathering emails in-store or online during the busy holiday season, you can send out promotions throughout the year.

The Children's Place entices customers to join its email list by offering a 25% discount when people sign up.


Or how about making use of an often overlooked little piece of prime marketing real estate – the back of a gift receipt. You can tailor a coupon to reflect the recent purchase, so, for example, if someone just bought a bike, you could put a coupon for bike accessories on the back of the receipt.

Customers are hard-won, so it's important to keep the ones you have. With a little added effort during the holiday season you can convert one-time shoppers into loyal, year-round customers.


How to Establish a Trusted and Credible eCommerce Website–


Written by Murray Sye

Murray is the CEO and Creative Director with the award-winning
Toronto HubSpot agency partner, WhiteSpace. You can
connect with Murray on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

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