Online retailers achieved a customer retention rate of 36.4% from May to July, up five percentage points on the same period last year, according to IMRG and Capgemini.
It is the highest figure recorded since reporting started in 2010. Conversely, the percentage of first-time buyers was the lowest on record, suggesting online retailers are focusing on return customers over attracting new buyers.
The report also revealed the average price per item was down 9% on the same period in 2015, suggesting high levels of discounting across the board.
IMRG chief information officer Tina Spooner said the retention figures suggest “a more conservative approach to how retailers are assigning their marketing budgets”.
She suggested that the lower average price per item is likely down to “a number of factors” including poor weather and Brexit.
“The average basket value that shoppers are checking out with – which may include multiple items – was also up, despite the fall in individual item prices. So ultimately, as unpredictable a period as we may now be in, this approach seems to have kept customers engaged overall so far,” she added.
Bhavesh Unadkat, management consultant in retail customer engagement design, Capgemini, said he believes retailers “will reap the benefits” of the increased focus on retention.
“Customer loyalty and retention has implications which reach every aspect of every business, and so we can expect to see retailers and other businesses alike continuing to rethink how they build both trust and consumer confidence in the coming months.”