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What eCommerce retailers need to know about CLV

You know your eCommerce business’ profits for the last quarter, average customer spend, acquisition costs and cart abandonment rates. You might even know your average customer lifespan. But what do you know about your customer lifetime value (CLV)?

We’re going to explain everything that small eCommerce retailers need to know about CLV, including the valuable customer information it exposes, the competitive advantages it brings, and how factors such as fulfillment, shipping, and loyalty programs can turn customers from one-hit-wonders into profitable lifetime regulars.

Back to basics: What is CLV?

Customer lifetime value (CLV) is the value that a customer brings to your business over their lifetime as your customer.

If you attract customers who only purchase from your eCommerce store once or twice, your CLV will be low. If you attract customers who regularly purchase from you, your CLV will be high.

Anything from shipping, engagement and website layout can increase your CLV, but more on that later. First, let’s explain why CLV is so important.

Why is CLV important?

Retaining customers is one of the most profitable things your business can do. Acquiring a new customer can be anywhere from 5 to 25x more expensive than retaining an existing one, and increasing customer retention by just 5% can increase business profits by a huge 25%. But CLV is more than just that.

  • CLV is a long-term metric, helping you to improve the lifetime and success of your business.
  • CLV identifies the customers who will bring you the most profit, enabling you to target your marketing spend, increasing ROI.
  • CLV tells you what’s driving customer loyalty, helping you build on what works and keep customers away from your competition.
  • CLV helps pinpoint what’s making your customers happy so that you can do it again.
  • CLV helps predict customer behavior and target what’s pushing them away.
  • CLV helps identify weaknesses in your business, such as product quality and customer engagement.

Savy eCommerce retailers then use all of this information to increase their CLV, becoming a competitive player in their respective markets and driving higher profits.

How to measure CLV

CLV can be a little tricky to calculate, with different algorithms and formulas all over the internet. Here’s a simple approach to calculating CLV:

CLV = customer value x customer lifespan

  1. Calculate your average purchase value (divide your total annual revenue by the number of purchases over that year).
  2. Calculate your average purchase frequency (divide the number of purchases over the year by the number of unique customers who purchased during that year).
  3. Calculate your customer value (minus your average purchase frequency from your average purchase value).
  4. Calculate your average customer lifespan (the average number of years a customer continues purchasing from you).
  5. Calculate your customer lifetime value (customer value multiplied by customer lifespan).

How to increase CLV

How do you improve CLV without drastically increasing your costs or putting a strain on your already limited time? Here are 3 simple strategies.

1. Increase your average customer lifespan

New evidence suggests that by 2020 customer experience will overtake product and price as the key differentiator, making the following essential for increasing customer lifespan.

Fast and free shipping

Why do more than 100 million people pay for Amazon Prime? Because it offers fast and free shipping. 63% of online shoppers expect fast delivery as standard, something that can prove difficult when manually fulfilling your orders. Satisfy your customers’ shipping needs by using a fast fulfillment service with competitive all-inclusive rates.

Multi-channel selling

Have a low CLV but only sell on Amazon? That might be why. Use multi-channel selling to reach different customers and then drive those customers to your own online shop, where you can start building a relationship without distractions from your competition. If you’re concerned about handling the logistics of multiple sales channels in-house, use a listing tool and fulfillment provider that works across your sales channels.


Visit our fulfillment cost calculator to find your exact rates


Outstanding customer service

74% of millennials would stop shopping with a brand following poor customer service. Ensure that your deliveries are on time, any customer problems are resolved quickly and that all the information on your website is correct.

Early engagement

Follow up initial purchases with a post-conversion email that encourages customers to come back for more. Then, maintain regular customer engagement through personalized product recommendations, newsletters and loyalty offers.

2. Increase the number of times a customer shops from you

Once you’ve encouraged your customers to stay, you need to encourage them to purchase from you more frequently.

Increase touch points

The more touchpoints a customer has with your brand, the more likely they are to use you again. Diversify your sales mix by expanding beyond the Amazon marketplace into eBay, Walmart, Jet, and your own store and engaging with customers on social media and through dynamic remarketing.

Quick delivery

Being able to have an item delivered within two days, makes shopping with you easier. If you’re doing your own fulfillment, ensure that you can process your orders and get them to your shipping carrier promptly. Alternatively, use a reliable outsourced fulfillment partner to offer your customers fast, guaranteed deliveries.

Subscription models

The subscription box market is booming, and it’s an easy way to guarantee regular customers. Consider whether any of your products could be offered by way of regular and committed deliveries.

3. Increase the amount a customer spends with you

Once you’ve hooked your customer and increased the regularity of their visits, you’ll then want them to spend more.


We all know that if you’re saving money, you’re likely to spend money. Incentivize your regular customers to spend more by offering free express shipping and minimum spend discounts. Appearing on the Walmart Free-2-Day Shipping and eBay Guaranteed Delivery programs are a great way to show your customers that this is a service you offer, especially if it’s something that your competitors don’t.


“You know what shoes would go perfectly with those pants…”

Use product placement and personalized product recommendations on your website and email marketing to encourage customers to spend more on complementary and recommended products.

Product comparisons

Displaying product comparison information on your online shop allows you to showcase the benefits of similar but more expensive items, giving online consumers a chance to want something slightly better.

Fulfill your customer value

CLV is the magic metric that provides you with invaluable customer information, sets you apart from your competition, fuels your sales and marketing strategies, and increases your profits. Plus, with fast shipping, customer discounts, and multiple sales channels, it’s easy to improve the value a customer brings to your eCommerce business.

Find out how seamless and fast outsourced fulfillment can help to transform your CLV by creating a free Deliverr account today.

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