Returning Customer Report in Shopify – How Critical is It?

Returning customers are critical for ecommerce success. Explore Shopify's returning customer reports and how to leverage data to boost retention.

Returning customers are the lifeblood of any business across the globe. Without them, a business cannot sustain itself in the long haul. While acquiring new customers is equally important, retaining existing customers is both cost-effective and a critical growth factor.

“As the world has moved online and as commerce has had its second renaissance, the side effect is that customer acquisition costs have risen to enormous levels. The clear solution for brands is to increase their repeat rates and increase customer lifetime value.”

– VP of Product & Head of Shop at Shopify (2022 Future of eCommerce Report)CARL RIVERA

When it comes to e-commerce, the significance of these returning customers becomes higher, thanks to rising acquisition costs.

Shopify merchants, both large and small, spend a good chunk of their finite resources on acquiring new customers. After doing so, if customers don’t make repeat purchases, then merchants must restart the expensive acquisition cycle yet again.

This cycle can be burdensome, labor intensive, and much like throwing money into a bottomless pit. That’s why returning customers are crucial to any Shopify store’s long-term success.

How Critical Are Returning Customer Reports

It’s time for a gut check: returning customers are indeed important. However, without returning customer reports, you won’t be able to track that precious commodity of your business. What’s more, you’ll have no idea how profitable existing customers truly are to your e-commerce empire.

Although it’s clear existing customers matter, each has its own lifetime value to your business.  Targeted reports can help you gather data about their activities, demographics, preferences, and more.

Let’s take a quick example to understand.

Suppose you’re a furniture retailer who ran a dazzling marketing campaign for a newly launched sofa. You spent $10,000 on the campaign and acquired around 200 customers. That makes the average customer acquisition cost $50 (Ad Spend divided by Customers Acquired).

Now to continue scaling your new product revenue, you’ll typically invest more money into those ads. Sadly, however, your acquisition costs may vary and you may end up spending more than you planned.

On the flip side, you can check the number of customers who returned to buy more. Reports suggest that at least 25-30% of customers return to buy more. And that provides stability to your revenue generation.

So the big question is, how do you find reports that bring your returning customer value to light?

The easiest and most budget-friendly way to find returning customer reports is by taking advantage of your existing e-commerce platform. Most e-commerce service providers have their own way of generating critical business reports, and you can often use them with very little effort. 

However, the easiest and most established e-commerce platform is Shopify.

If you’re a Shopify merchant (and subscribed to either StandardAdvanced, or Plus plans), then you can easily download returning customer reports with a few clicks. Let’s look at how to do that.

Where to Find Returning Customer Reports in Shopify?

Before explaining where you can find these helpful resources, let’s clarify that Customer Reports are not available for all Shopify plans.

Customer Reports are only accessible in Shopify StandardAdvanced, and Plus plans. If you’re not subscribed to one of these, you can use our Report Pundit app to generate various customer reports at a fraction of the cost.

If you’re subscribed to one of these Shopify plans and yet unable to generate specific customer report types, we’ll help you create one based on your unique needs.

Now, let’s re-focus on which customer reports are available via Shopify, and where to find them.

As you can see in the image above, Returning customer reports are part of the Customer reporting section in Shopify.

To access customer reports, go to Analytics in the left admin sidebar; then click Reports in the drop-down menu. You’ll see the customers report section about halfway down the screen.

Different Types of Returning Customer Reports in Shopify

There are three types of returning customer reports in Shopify:

  • Returning Customers
  • First-time vs returning customer sales
  • Loyal customers

Returning Customers Report

The Returning customers report displays all customers that have placed multiple orders from your store.

Continuing with our previous example:  as a furniture retailer, you may want to know which customers are returning to your online store to buy additional items for their homes.

The Returning customer’s report displays the following:

  • Name of customer
  • Customer email
  • Accepts marketing – a customer agrees to receive promo communication (email, etc).
  • First order day – date of the first order placed by the customer.
  • Last order day – date of last order placed by the customer
  • Orders to date – total number of orders placed by the customer
  • Average order value (AOV) – average order amount spent by customers over their lifetime at your store.
  • Total spent to date – combined order amount spent by customers over their lifetime at your store

To customize this report, you can apply filters via the Manage Filters button. You can also edit column visibility to adjust customer and/or time attributes within the report.

Once you’ve chosen your preferences, you can then export the CSV-formatted report by clicking Export in the top right corner.

We now understand what you’ll encounter in the Returning customers report and how you can export it. But let’s look at how you can harness this report to make valuable decisions for your e-commerce business.

Benefits of Returning Customers Report in Shopify

  • Helps Identify Most Profitable Customers – You can analyze which customers give you the most business, and reward them with special discounts. Exclusive offers can help you retain profitable customers for a longer period of time.
  • Defines Ideal Customers – This report helps you discover your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). An ICP is a description of your typical customer audience, based on buyers who place orders at your online store most often.
  • By using the Returning customer’s report, you’ll understand common attributes of your returning customers (such as age, gender, location, income, etc).  You can then target these demographics within your marketing campaigns.
  • Calculate Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) – For e-commerce merchants, customer lifetime value unmasks the actual value of a customer to your business. Since the number of returning customers and their average order value are primary CLV factors, this report will come in handy to calculate customer value.

First-time Vs Returning Customer Sales Report

The First-time vs returning customer sales report helps you compare sales between your first-time and returning customers. It helps you determine whether you should concentrate on new customers (acquisitions), or if you should channel your energy towards retaining returning (repeat) customers.

As you can see in the above screenshot, this report features a sleek chart that displays linear trends between customer sales types. If you’re running short on time, you can quickly glance at the trend lines for immediate insight.

The chart also has a Group by option which is quite useful when analyzing trends on a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis.

You can customize the First-time vs returning customer sales report by adjusting the date range in the top left corner.  Other report options include filter management and column adjustments for refined data visibility.

By default, you’ll have access to the following report columns:

  • Time – displays the month, week, or day
  • Customer Type – displays the type of customer (first-time or returning)
  • Orders – displays the number of orders placed by customer type
  • Total Sales – displays the total value of sales by customer type

Once you’ve customized this report to your liking, simply export the CSV-formatted data file.

Benefits of First-time Vs Returning Customers Sales Report in Shopify

  • Determines Most Profitable Customer Type – Every business is different. Some acquire a myriad of new customers daily, whereas others heavily depend on repeat purchases. But, for your business, you can learn the ebb and flow of your unique customer order volume with this report. You can then make changes to your acquisition and retention strategies based on these findings.
  • Leverage Seasonal Sales based on Customer Type: Pinpointing repeat versus one-time customer purchases during holidays is advantageous. For example, you might want to check whether returning customers placed orders during Christmas last year.  Such research can inform a promotional campaign for the next Christmas sales season. 

Loyal Customers Report

The Loyal customer’s report is one specially engineered by Shopify based on their own mathematical formula.  In Shopify’s eyes, a loyal customer places more orders than other accounts, thus increasing their likelihood of making another purchase.

Word of caution: this report is only available for Advanced and Plus Shopify plans.

An example: Steve has bought from you consistently every month for the last two years.  Because most of your other customers place orders just twice a year, Steve is considered a loyal customer and will appear on this list.

As long as a customer creates repeat orders more frequently than the average account, then they’ll likely appear on the Loyal Customers report.

This report displays the following records:

  • Name of customer
  • Customer email
  • Accepts marketing – a customer agrees to receive promo communication (email, etc).
  • First order day – date of the first order placed by the customer.
  • Last order day – date of last order placed by the customer
  • Orders to date – total number of orders placed by the customer
  • Average order value (AOV) – average order amount spent by customers over their lifetime at your store based on all the orders placed by the customer, this column displays the average order value. For example, if a customer had placed 100 orders over the lifetime with your business and the total value of those orders is $1000, then the AOV of that customer is $10.
  • Total spent to date – combined order amount spent by customers over their lifetime at your store

You can also add filters and columns to further streamline the data to gain more insights. Once you’re ready, you can export the data as a CSV file.

Benefits of Loyal Customers Report in Shopify

  • Forecast More Lucrative Customers – The most important benefit of this report is knowing who is likely to place more orders at your store. This insight inspires promo campaigns that target high-value customers. For example, you might want to offer an exclusive multi-product order discount based on customer loyalty metrics.
  • Save Time Locating Most Profitable Customers – You won’t need to download multiple reports to know which customers are most profitable. Get what you need in just one place.

These are the benefits of having Shopify’s three returning customer reports (Returning customers, First-time vs returning customer sales, and Loyal customers) available in your online store.

But we’re missing an important point here: while reports can tell you a valuable story, they don’t lead your customers down a path to repeat orders on their own.

So let’s look at how to make one-time customers, and repeat order brand ambassadors.

How do you Encourage Customers to Return?

At Report Pundit, we serve e-commerce merchants like you around the world. Based on our interactions with multitudinous merchants, we’ve devised 4 steps to ensure your customers will return to place more orders.

Step 1 – Sell products that solve problems

This might seem obvious, but it’s essential:  keep your customers coming back by offering products that easily solve their everyday problems.

You don’t need to create costly merchandise to achieve this goal. For example, offers its own range of products called Amazon Essentials, priced anywhere from $5 to $80+. They’ve mastered selling products to customers when they really need them most (office supplies, kitchen gadgets, etc).

Do you offer problem-solving products to customers that make life easier? If yes, then they’ll likely return to your online store based on their needs.

Step 2 – Create a fantastic user experience

The most successful e-commerce merchants understand both pain and joy customers encounter during their journey..

From simple, intuitive website navigation to providing quality product images and descriptions, user experience embraces what customers need, what they value, and what is accessible to them. When you provide rich, pain-free customer experiences, buyers are likely to prefer your brand over the competition.

Think of user experience like the winding road a customer travels as they encounter your brand.  It’s an accumulation of twists and turns along the way telling them who you are: from products and services to communication, and to everything else in between (including non-digital encounters).   


Step 3 – Demonstrate exceptional customer service

You can devise amazing products and the most delightful user experience, but poor customer service can undermine the best intentions. In fact, customer service is an integral part of a user’s experience; it’s important to give your customers the right support when they need it most.

We at Report Pundit are grateful for the 1000+ merchants who gave us 5-star rated reviews at the Shopify App Marketplace.  We want our customers to love our products the way we do, and the expert service we provide. If you’re passionate about your customers, they’ll likely reward you with long-term loyalty.

Another important aspect of customer service is how you handle complaints. Let’s be real: e-commerce merchants often face an ever-demanding and increasingly sophisticated public. How you handle and resolve inevitable complaints matters greatly.

If your customers experience top-notch service during their difficult moments, increased loyalty is on the horizon.

Step 4 – Offer exciting discounts and promotions

It’s tough to run an e-commerce business without providing promotional discounts and special offers. The more enticing your offers, the increased likelihood that your customer sticks with you over the competition.

It’s wise to create discount campaigns, even on random occasions, to stimulate additional customer purchases and brand interest.

Double Down on Returning Customers to Grow Your Shopify Business

E-commerce is a constantly changing landscape, and customer retention is key to a thriving, Shopify-based online business. That’s the path forward.

If you’d like advanced returning customer reports that help gauge customer trends, sign up for a free, no-risk  Report Pundit trial today. We help thousands of merchants each month to get the most reliable data from their Shopify stores.

Until we meet again, we wish you all the best!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What is a returning customer in Shopify?

A. A returning customer in Shopify is someone who has already purchased from your store and has now returned to buy more. A returning customer can make repeat purchases and therefore, is essential for the success of your eCommerce store.

Q. How do you identify returning customers?

A. You can identify returning customers using returning customer reports, which makes the process easier. If not you have to manually check the number of customers you have and how many of them are returning to buy more products.

Q. What are Shopify Advanced Reports?

A. Shopify advanced reports can refer to reports that are part of the Advanced subscription plan in Shopify or they can refer to advanced reports that you can derive from Shopify as we do at Report Pundit.

Q. What are Shopify Customer Reports?

A. Shopify customer reports provide detailed information about customers to Shopify merchants. They are available in Standard Shopify, Advanced Shopify, and Shopify Plus plans. There are seven customer reports in Shopify.

  • Customers overtime report
  • Customers by location report
  • Returning customers report
  • First-time vs returning customers report
  • One-time customers report
  • At-risk customers report
  • Loyal customers report

Q. What are unique customers in Shopify?

There are no unique customers in Shopify. There are first-time customers, one-time customers, and returning customers.

Q. Where can you find the Shopify Customer list?

A. As seen in the picture, you can find your customers from the Customers option in the left side menu. You can export all your customers as a CSV file.

Q. Are Returning Customer Reports Available for All Shopify Plans?

A. No returning customer reports are available only in Shopify, Advanced, and Plus plans. They’re not available in all the plans. You can use applications such as Report Pundit to access advanced returning customer reports.

Q. Is there a relationship between a repeat customer and customer satisfaction?

A. Yes, if a customer is satisfied with your product and service then they will return to make repeat purchases. They’ll also spread the word of your brand which results in acquiring new customers, without spending a dime.

On the contrary, if your customer is not satisfied with your product or experiences a bad service, not only will they stop using your product but they’ll act as a detractor.

So you should ensure that your CSAT (customer satisfaction score) is always 9 or 10 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Q. How do you forecast Repeat Customers?

A. The best way to forecast repeat customers is by using predictive analytics. There are many predictive analytics platforms available that can help you get this information.

In Shopify, the loyal customer’s report provides this data (at a very high level) based on the previous purchases of your customers. But, this report is only available in Shopify,  Advanced, or Plus plans.

Nonetheless, the report cannot be considered a real forecast. Only advanced analytics solutions can provide forecasting.

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