There is nothing more critical to the success of a retail outlet, online or on the high street, than winning a loyal customer. It is hard to gain a new customer. Suppose your business relies on you being able to get fresh clientele again and again. In that case, you are going to struggle to succeed. Selling on Etsy is no different. Even though you are given the impression that you are selling to the whole world, you are only delivering products to a small demographic. Therefore, individuals within your section of the market need to know you exist, be pleased with your service, and want to recommend you to a friend. Most importantly, that customer will come back and buy again.

If the repeat customer is so vital to your success, how can you make sure they return? Here is our guide to winning the elusive lifelong client for your business.

Do your research

Your first job is to get to know your customer. You are not going to be selling to everyone – it is plain unrealistic to believe that the whole world is interested in your product. So, who is interested? What do they need from you? What will delight them? Whether it is a specific age group, the gender, or other such demographic detail, you need a clear picture of your ideal customer and what they need.

On a site like Etsy where you are offering products with that personal touch, you need to be seen to make a connection with your buyer. It is going to feel a little like treating these people like your friend and helping them see how much you value their custom. It is only when people feel connected and part of a community that they want to come back for a repeat experience.

A small act could make a big difference. For instance, if your product requires special care for it to last much longer, putting an advice card in with the purchase will shape a positive response from your customer. They will see that you care about their experience with your product.

Check and double-check

It is likely that setting up your Etsy store, like setting up any other eCommerce site, was fraught with challenges. You will have come across things late that caused you and your clientele problems. The sooner you get beyond these teething problems, the more customers you will see return to your outlet. Errors annoy people; having to complain makes people associate negative emotions with your company. Consequently, one of the most fundamental ways to gain loyalty is in avoiding errors.

Being successful in retail, especially over the internet, is gained with attention to detail. It is checking, and checking again, to make sure you are delivering the right product, to the right person, in good time. It is the small things, such as checking the spelling of the name or making sure the postcode has been transcribed accurately. 

If you do make a mistake, as every human being will at some point, then note it down, reflect and look at your procedures so it will never happen again. 

Make an impact

You may not have a lot of time or communication with your customers. Sometimes, it’s as little as a sales confirmation and message about dispatch, neither of which convey a lot of your brand’s personality. Your way around this? Show that personality in your packaging. For example, if you are a brand which values fun and whimsy, you might add a sticker with a silly illustration to the packaging wrap, or if you want to be associated with beauty and luxury, you might tie up your package with a strip of ribbon. Make your product’s arrival memorable.

Keep people up to date

If you are successful, then you are going to be busy. There will come the point when you have a lot on your plate and deadlines, and timings get pressed. However, of all the things you cannot let slip is communication. If a client contacts you, then you need to respond to that enquiry in a timely fashion. The longer you leave it, the greater the level of concern you will deal with. Not only that, small personal acts of communication are a sure way to help a client feel part of your community. Etsy is unique in some ways in that it feels like a site where like-minded lovers of craft items gather. Therefore, offering a personal touch in your prompt communication is going to go a long way.

You will find that most of your communication will be about when a parcel will arrive. We live in a world where we have become used to instant gratification. You will find it helpful to anticipate this and look to send a message when the order has been received, processed, dispatched and is likely to arrive. The onward supply chain should not be an afterthought in your business. You should have a relationship with a courier company that allows you to guarantee that your product will be with your customer on a particular day.

Be your customer’s community hub

If you check out social media, some people regularly comment on the posts from eCommerce businesses. Etsy is unique in this sense, as the mindset of the sellers and customers on the site is one of personalization and individualized products. This is a significant opportunity to gather together a tribe of people who follow you, champion your wares and delight in seeing new products come to your store. 

How do you build such a community? Well, you have to let them in behind the scenes. You have to help them feel like a part of your extended family of makers and producers. The emotional connection needed to make such a community possible takes time to build. However, you should take every opportunity to share posts – with a consistency of time, tone, and branding – to let loyal clients in on the people behind the products.

The simple takeaway

The way to win a loyal customer can feel overwhelming. We seem to be suggesting that you spend a lot of time making friends with these people. You might be wondering when you will have the opportunity to get any other work done. Yet, on sites like Etsy, the relationship with your customers is going to be the key to your success. They have chosen you because you are not a faceless corporate brand, which means you are going to have to show them your face!

Laura McLoughlin is a Digital PR based in Armagh, Northern Ireland. She has previous experience as a website editor and journalist, and currently works with Loadzalabels.

Etsy stock photo by Casimiro PT/Shutterstock