How To Retain Customers In eCommerce And Maximize Returns From Holiday Traffic

December 7, 2021
Ecommerce Tips

Black Friday Cyber Monday is not just a weekend anymore, it’s a season! And it smashed records this year, according to Shopify’s real-time sales analysis. Since it’s obviously here to stay, getting BFCM ‘right’ can have a huge impact on sales. 

In our latest Concrete Conversations, we sat down with Kristen Jones, Director of Marketing at SuitShop, a contributor and editor at The Quality Edit, and an advisor at Yumwoof. Oh, and she’s a freelance strategist and content creator on the side. Kristen has seen everything under the sun when it comes to DTC, so we asked her to break it down for us.  

Read on to see how you can: learn from this season’s Black Friday sales, maximize customer retention, and leverage tools to simplify your business and build a community.  

Kristen, let’s dive right in!

Did You Make These Black Friday Mistakes?

I saw a lot of great marketing this Black Friday. As usual, evergreen influencers with social clout, and brands that own first-party customer data crushed it. 

But we can all learn something from failure. Without naming any names, here are the biggest mistakes I saw out there this holiday season and how they could have been improved.

  • Wasteful targeting: A lot of this is down to iOS-14 changes. We can’t track people like we used to. I placed an order with one company and got five emails selling me on the exact same deal I had just used. There was zero segmentation.
  • Repetitive offers: Another brand offered me the same discount they did last year. They even used the same discount code as the previous year. Which isn’t a great way to appeal to loyal customers. Brands need to switch up offers to appeal to fans.
  • Poor mobile experience: One company that I was trying to order from had a terrible mobile site that couldn’t display the cart. Only a sliver of the button was visible. Someone not familiar with eCommerce wouldn’t have been able to figure it out—which equals opportunity lost. Most customers would have just given up.
  • Pro-tip: Before you launch that big sale, go to Starbucks and give your credit card to a stranger. Ask them to go through the site and buy any item they want. See where they struggle—and fix it.

The key takeaway? 

There was way too much focus on top-of-the-funnel customers, and not keeping the ones you already have happy. Brands that want to maximize returns from holiday traffic need to keep it fresh.

Why Customer Experience Equals Customer Retention

Providing a great shopping experience means you retain customers and scale their lifetime value. And the best way to do this? Figure out what problems your customers have and fix them. Here’s how:

  • What are your customers’ pain points? At SuitShop, our customers are concerned with getting the perfect fit. So we offer free swatches to help them find the right size and fabric type. We also have in-person fittings and a virtual showroom available. Plus free shipping on exchanges should that fail.
  • A great experience means retention and referrals. By addressing customer pain points we provide a great experience. We often hear people say, “I was a groomsman at a wedding and I had a great experience. So we decided to use your service for mine.”

A risk-free trial at SuitShop directly addresses a potential customer pain point. Source: SuitShop

The key takeaway?

Good news travels fast in this business. When people love your product they tell their friends. Start by solving their problems and providing a great customer experience. That is how you start to build a loyal community.

Can’t Keep Up? Here Are 7 Tools That Simplified My Business

A lot of the mistakes I saw this holiday season came down to companies not doing proper segmentation and targeting. This is something that is easy to fix and automate, provided you’re using the right tools.

  • Personalized and automated email and SMS flow. I’ve used both Postscript and Attentive for SMS. And I like Klaviyo for email. Custom email segmentations are a lifesaver in this industry.
  • System management. Gorgias is great for managing social, emails, and DMs all in one place. You can set macros for automated replies and auto-assign things to the right team. Plaza is also great if you’re looking for a branded virtual showroom.
  • Need easy trials, returns, and exchanges? I’ve used Try Now and Loop. I found it really takes the burden off your team and makes it simple for customers to serve themselves.

Without a proper tool stack in place, your team is going to struggle, and mistakes are going to happen. Make sure you have all the tools you need so you can focus on delivering a great product, building up your community, and scaling your business.

How To Build A Community That Loves Everything You Do

It’s not easy building a community, but they’ll be your best customers for life if you can develop one. Below are some brands that have rabid fan bases who love their products and want to be a part of them. Here is what they are doing well:

  • OLIPOP. They have a cult following and active Facebook groups. OLIPOP is known for going above and beyond for their customers and are one of my favorite DTC brands. They speak to people…like they’re people. OLIPOP offers higher discounts and 24-hour early access to their best customers.
  • Three Ships Beauty. This beauty brand runs an insider program with exclusive discounts. The common thread? Make a social network group for close friends of your brands. Capture those VIP customers and reward them with discounts and coupons.
  • Alphalete. This leisure-wear company is one of my favorites. Their strategy focuses on influencers and limited drops. This keeps fans engaged and shopping. They run both virtual and in-person events to foster a real sense of community.

Three Ships Beauty is known for its engaged following. Source: Three Ships

Cultivating a community can be challenging. I recommend following these brands and watching how they do it. Community will come when you keep working hard at it. It’s not something you can force but it will pay dividends.

Implement these tips and takeaways and you’ll be sure to retain customers and maximize your returns next holiday season.

On behalf of Saltbox and our Members, a huge thanks to Kristen for an insightful conversation! Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @kristenxjones or follow her on Instagram @kristenthecreator.


Saltbox is the Modern Warehouse for digital commerce companies. With our purpose-built network of flexible warehouses in major metropolitan areas across the country, we are powering the ecommerce economy and the next generation of entrepreneurs by democratizing access to essential operations and logistics infrastructure. If you are running an eCommerce business, check out how partnering with Saltbox could be the next great step in your eCommerce journey and allow you to simplify your day to day operations so you can focus on your growing sales and customer community. Explore our workspace and fulfillment solutions and book a tour today to discover what Saltbox can do for you.

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