8 Ways to Boost Repeat Purchases

By Ben Feldman, Affirm Content Marketing Manager
Ben is a writer and marketer who is fascinated by financial services innovations and is dedicated to helping online retailers find solutions to grow their companies.

Why Read this Article

Online retailers are always seeking ways of increasing revenue and one of the best ways to do that is by boosting repeat purchases. This article will help you increase revenue by offering actionable tips on how to earn repeat business from existing customers.


“How can I boost my sales?” That’s a question many merchants ask themselves throughout the year. It turns out, one of the best ways to achieve this goal is by focusing on repeat purchases. Below, we explain 8 important ways to increase repeat purchases.

Since some of these initiatives require technical resources, we’ve listed them in order from easiest to most complex to implement. This way, you can choose what you can accomplish now with the resources you have.

1. Create “exclusive” discounts for loyal customers

Everyone likes getting special access to things, and your customers are no different. To capture their interest, offer them exclusive access to sales and discounts before they are available to the general public. Give your repeat customers at least 1 to 2 days of early access so they feel like they are receiving a meaningful advantage. A survey found that exclusive promotions are one of the most popular loyalty perks for customers, which means they’re definitely something you should be offering to your own most loyal customers.

The online clothing retailer The RealReal does a good job with this. In the example email below, they offer their existing customers 20% off selected purchases with the use of a special promo code available for a limited time.

Source: The RealReal via email

2. Offer convenient customer financing

Many customers are looking for quick, transparent financing options to help ensure that a repeat purchase fits into their monthly budget. This is particularly true for Millennials who are budget-conscious but are shunning credit cards (63% of them do not own even one credit card). To win over these customers again, offer alternate financing options like Affirm’s monthly installment plans, which provide budget flexibility and real-time credit decisions. In a recent case study with high-end clothing resale marketplace Tradesy, repeat purchasing among customers using Affirm was 88% higher than for other customers.

Shop Hers, the fast-growing online luxury marketplace, has integrated the Affirm monthly financing option seamlessly onto their site so that customers can easily choose financing during the checkout process. This is a great offer for both new and repeat customers.

Source: Shop Hers

3. Retarget customers with abandoned cart emails or promotions for repeat purchase

Retarget customers using abandoned cart emails, display, paid social media, and even search, showing them items they left in their carts or items related to what they already purchased. Also, use retargeting to get in front of customers at optimal times in the customers’ buying cycle. For example, “you bought disposable contacts a month ago, do you want to buy a new box now?” This kind of marketing can be quite effective. A case study from found that email remarketing helped them recover 29% of abandoned carts.

GILT excels at retargeting its customers. In the example below, the message to the customer is very clear and reminds the customer about the item they considered purchasing.

Source: GILT via email

4. Use email to send personalized offers and suggest products

One of the most powerful ways to win a repeat purchase is to email customers offers based on their previous buying history and remind them of ancillary items that they may need with the item(s) they purchased. For example, “you recently bought a DVD player, did you need an HDMI cable?” This can be even more powerful if you have demographic data about the customer. For example, if you know a customer is 21 years old, you could send them back-to-college offers for clothing, backpacks, school supplies, etc. A recent report showed that personalized emails improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and improve conversion rates by an average of 10%. An Experian Marketing study also found that personalized emails helped increase transaction rates by 6 times in certain cases.

An example of a personalized email that functions well is from Dot&Bo, a home furnishings company. They sent a customer who purchased a home decoration a follow-up email with similar items that the person would likely be interested in purchasing.

Source: Dot & Bo via

5. Try direct mail

Although it’s “old school,” direct mail is very powerful because it can cut through the deluge of email that consumers get on a daily basis. While it can be all too easy to skip past an email, it’s much harder to ignore an offer sent via direct mail. Surprisingly, according to a study by Epsilon, 73% of U.S. consumers said they prefer direct mail for brand communications. Keep in mind that visuals make all the difference with direct mail -- you want something that is eye-catching and visually appealing to draw in the customer.

One example of a company successfully using direct mail to get in front of its target audience is Casper, the online mattress seller, which sends out direct mail pieces containing special discount codes to its customers.

Source: Casper via direct mail

6. Use social proof

It’s been shown that people respond positively to social proof. In other words, if you see that 10,000 people have purchased a particular pair of running shoes, you are more likely to want to buy those shoes. This is not just speculation -- according to FastCompany, there are real psychological factors that make social proof effective. You can use this to your advantage by tracking purchase data (or even Facebook likes) for specific products, or soliciting actual customer reviews, and displaying that information prominently on your website and in any emails you send to customers.

A great example of a company utilizing social proof is Revolve Clothing. They sell designer clothing, handbags, and accessories. On their homepage, they have a widget that showcases customer posts featuring their products on Instagram -- the feed is curated, but anyone can participate by using the hashtag #REVOLVEME. These images help reinforce to potential customers that these products are popular and worth the investment.

Source: Revolve

7. Use personalized onsite marketing for “known customers” based on cookies

Try putting a message just for return customers at the top of your website to let them know about a special deal just for them. It might be something like “Welcome back! Receive a special Labor Day discount for being a loyal customer.” This kind of messaging will make returning customers more committed to sticking around and making another purchase. In fact, one survey found that 75% of consumers like when brands personalize their messaging, and a different study showed that 61% of consumers prefer to receive offers even if it means less privacy.

The example below from Vasque demonstrates how powerful this kind of messaging can be. The customer returns to the site and immediately sees a large personalized message saying “Jack, were these the boots you wanted? They’re 30% off today.” The combination of using the customer’s name and offering a discount on an item the customer previously viewed is a great way to increase the likelihood that they’ll make the purchase.

Source: Vasque via the Kissmetrics Blog

8. Offer an enticing loyalty program

You should give shoppers financial incentives to encourage them to sign up for a loyalty program upon completing their first purchase on your site. Then, provide them with timely ways to save on their next purchase(s). According to a study by, 54% of consumers buy more from companies when they are being rewarded for purchases. And a different study by Aimia found that loyalty programs can increase a brand’s market share by 20% and improve customer acquisition by up to 10%.

Nordstrom is a perfect example of a company that takes advantage of a strong loyalty program. They encourage customers to sign up in order to receive special benefits, including rewards points that can be redeemed for products as well as early access to sales.

Source: Nordstrom

What Merchants Should Do:

By rewarding loyalty and putting relevant offers in front of your customers, you can succeed in increasing your repeat purchases. Here are the key tips to help you do exactly that:

  • Use loyalty programs and personalized marketing to create excitement and trust. Building a long-term relationship with a customer is much easier when they feel you are making their life easier and/or helping them save money. Make targeted offers that help your customers afford the items they want and increase the likelihood they will make a repeat purchase.
  • Offer your customers point-of-sale financing. Many back-to-school shoppers are on a budget. By giving them the option of paying for purchases in easy monthly installments, you can convert customers you otherwise would have lost and increase Average Order Value across all orders.
  • Retarget customers with ads featuring abandoned cart items or related promos. With remarketing ads, you can use cookie data to display ads on various publisher and social sites. If set up strategically, these ads should show products that the customer left in their cart or products that are related to their previous purchases.
  • Use social proof to persuade repeat customers. If a customer knows that a particular product has been popular with others, they will be more likely to want that product for themselves. Incorporate social proof into your messaging by indicating the number of people who have already purchased each product.
  • Try sending direct mail to existing customers. This form of advertising can be incredibly effective for earning repeat purchases. When you have a physical address for an existing customer, you should be sending them notices of exclusive sales, discounts, and special offers by mail. Be sure to emphasize that the offers are a “thank you” for their loyalty to your brand.

DISCLAIMER: The views contained in this article are those of Affirm only. Affirm has not received any consideration whatsoever for creating this article. Any brands contained in this article are included as examples only. Affirm does not intend to endorse or promote any brands contained in this article.

Ready to increase your sales now?

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