Turn a Buy-and-Bye Customer into Your Buy-and-Buy Regular

Jan 05 2021 | PayPal editorial staff

Joe got his e-commerce site up a few months ago. While business hasn’t been bad – product is moving – he’s noticed that quite a few customers are only one-item or one-time buyers. For them, it’s a case of buy and goodbye.
What Joe would much rather have is a buy-and-buy customer (Who wouldn’t?). So, taking cues from articles on Headstart, he’s taken the effort to make sure his site and checkout conversion are further optimised – buyers can easily find items and make a purchase.

How would you rate Joe’s chances? He’s obviously done everything he should as a business owner. Or has he?

The Why of a Buy

If we want to sell more products on our e-commerce store, we have to understand what makes shoppers tick. The why of buying, according to psychologists, boils down to two simple things – need and enjoyment.

What Joe has neglected to consider is that an e-commerce site should only be a business to one party, and that’s him, the site owner. For everyone else, the site should be an experience. Joe’s site currently works for the person in ‘Serious’ mode. The buyer who needs something, and thus buys a product.

What Joe could do to improve his business is to also engage people’s ‘Playful’ mode, their enjoyment buttons. Making the site fun and interesting creates a more pleasurable shopping experience, which is fertile ground for more up-sell and cross-sell.

For the science, Persuasion in Advertising authors John and Nicholas O’Shaughnessy reveal that when in a ‘Playful’ state, we are “embracing the mood of calm energy (that) makes us feel good” and that “in this mood consumers judge things more positively and so are more susceptible to being persuaded.”

Answering a specific need is good if you want a buyer, but creating enjoyment is for when you want spending shoppers.

Take Cues from the Mall

Say you are on a mission to buy a shirt in the mall because you need it for an important meeting the next day; you are in ‘Serious’ mode. But then you find yourself enjoying the cool shop displays and the personal interaction with the sales assistant. Next thing you know, you’ve stayed longer than you planned, and bought a few more accessories and a second shirt on top of the shirt you needed. And, you intend to visit the store again soon.

What just happened is that, thanks to pleasurable encounters in the shop, you morphed into a spending shopper in ‘Playful’ mode. Exactly as the store owner planned. Your e-commerce store should do the same!

Offline Retailers Never let Anyone Stay a Buy-And-Bye

Look around the mall again. Can you spot a display on a ‘twofer’ offer or anything similar? “Buy one, get one free”, “2 for 1”, “Buy both and save”?

Offers like these obviously entice someone to buy more than one item in order to maximise value. They get to save money, which gets pleasure receptors tingling enough for ‘Playful’ mode to take over.

Retailers often also give membership or loyalty points to customers after they shop. These points are collected and used for future redemption in the form of discounts or freebies. (It might not be a massive saving, but it can make a huge difference in the buyer’s psyche.) Sometimes memberships even give exclusive offers or invitations to see new products first.

Feel Good = Buy More

If you have not yet put some thought and action into how your site feels (on top of how it functions), it’s high time to.

How to make Your E-Commerce Site feel Good

Be able to answer yes to all of these.
  • Merchandising – have you carefully merchandised the products on the page to make it fun and interesting?
  • Aesthetics – Are the aesthetics of the site second to none (or at least really cool)
  • Curation – Have you shown them cool related items or accessories that would go well with their purchase?
  • Interaction – Can your customers interact with your site or representatives in real-time for that personalised interaction which drives sales?

Next, make your e-commerce site addictive

You can always go further in appealing to the ‘Playful’ mode of consumers. Let’s go back to when you bought the shirt. What if on top of the perks of a membership, you also got a fun ‘Trend setter’ badge? Even though there is no immediate practical use of such a badge, it’s fun and it feels good that you’ve been recognised as a valuable customer.

To get people to interact more with your e-commerce site, try going a bit further by rewarding customers with:
  • Membership perks, points and privileges – “only because you’re a VVVIP here, we’re showing this to you first!”
  • Emotional rewards such as statuses or ranks for returning customers
  • Social recognition i.e. adding their Instagram pics with your product to your site as a review
  • A referral reward for your customer for each referral of a new buying customer

Why be an average Joe with average sales?

Prices can be beat. So can variety and convenience. But an experience? That’s retail gold.


The contents of this site are provided for informational purposes only. The information in this article does not constitute legal, financial, IT, business or investment advice of any kind and is not a substitute for any professional advice. You should always obtain independent, professional accounting, financial, IT and legal advice before making any business decision.

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