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New customers vs existing customers - who should retailers invest in?


Published on: Dec 13, 2019

Past and future

Many retailers want to increase their traffic at any cost and therefore focus exclusively on acquiring new customers. However, this is the wrong strategy for success in e-commerce. According to countless studies, it costs five times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to look after an existing one. However, it is important to remember that new customers are the existing customers of tomorrow. So what should online retailers focus on? This is not an “either…or” or “new customers vs existing customers” question. Retailers should not be concerned with strictly dividing their customers into new and existing customers. Both customer groups are of great importance to retailers.

For whom does it make more sense to acquire new customers?

Start-ups and small stores, for example, first need a customer base that they can maintain – that’s clear. However, anyone who already has a presentable customer database should also maintain it. Because if they don’t, they’ll be gone faster than you can count to three. So if you already have a presentable number of customers, you should focus primarily on your existing customers. In addition, the retailer should consider how he can retain customers in the long term. If they fail to do so, they may order from a competitor tomorrow.

Why are existing customers actually usually more valuable than

new customers?

According to the motto: new customers cost money – existing customers bring money. So in new customers must first be invested, with existing customers there is already an investment. For this reason, the focus for online retailers who already have a large customer base should be predominantly, but not exclusively, on their existing customers. Why is that? Satisfied and loyal customers buy from the online retailer again and again and thus build up customer loyalty. In the long run, this usually pays off more than acquiring new customers. And these are the reasons why:

  • Existing customers buy more often and also have larger shopping carts than new customers
  • The cost of customer acquisition is about five times that of maintaining existing customers – so customer care is a lot cheaper
  • Satisfied existing customers recommend the store to potential new customers
  • Existing customers make personal communication easier, because the retailer already has important information about the customers


And so it goes

The answer is simple: personalization and relevance! At best, customers can be made even more loyal to the online store with personalized attention as well as marketing efforts that are tailored and relevant to them. So that means More personalization pays off!

Special promotions or direct mailings are one way to further bind customers to the store. These include seasonal mailings, birthday campaigns or discount promotions.

If you want to contact your customers via more than just e-mail, you can incorporate other communication channels into your customer loyalty strategy. What channels can these be? Messengers such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger can be perfectly used to communicate with customers – after permission has been obtained, of course. Personalized emails sent during dispatch can even achieve an open rate of up to 80 percent.

Personalization – even beyond the ordering process

With the topic of personalization, you usually hit the mark with customers. However, this should not stop after the order has been sent. Most of the time, retailers communicate with their customers before and during the order process with great effort and a friendly tone. But once they have sent off their order, they are dropped and handed over to the mail-order company. However, if you want to focus on personal communication, you should be able to guarantee this even beyond the order – because shipping is the emotional component of the customer journey.

###Experience shipping messages in action!


Every retailer should think about whether it makes sense to focus on new or existing customers. Most of the time, it makes sense to give existing customers (as far as you already have a customer base) your attention. There are various ways that retailers can implement this. With small attentions, in the form of coupons as well as personal discounts and over a personal address – here no borders are set to the creativity. The important thing is that customers must be looked after along the entire customer journey. That means from the order to shipping and returns.

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