Three simple rules for emailed receipts

An interesting thing happened while I was completing a purchase at Urban Outfitters recently. The cashier asked if I would like to have my receipt either printed or emailed to me. Without giving it much thought, I asked for a printed receipt. And then I got to thinking: Why would a retailer want to email a receipt?

I’m probably way behind on this trend, but apparently it’s one that is gaining steam among retailers. No longer reserved just for the travel industry, self-service DVD rental stations and the like, emailed receipts are infiltrating the mainstream and becoming a part of the typical checkout vernacular. What may feel unfamiliar to someone like me who hadn’t yet heard a retailer offer to email a receipt could rapidly become as mainstream as asking a customer to complete an online survey regarding his checkout experience.

To make emailed receipts an effective part of your customer engagement strategy, consider them as opportunities to up-sell as well as solidify your brand with customers. Much like transactional emails that are generated as a result of online sales, point-of-purchase emails that result from in-store transactions have the potential to generate additional sales among recipients who are already engaged with your brand. These emails need to follow all the rules of transactional emails, too, namely:

  • Deliver the email promptly. Customers want to see that receipt right away, especially if they have any reason to return or exchange an item.
  • Use an engaging subject line and design. Just because your email is primarily informative in function doesn’t mean it can’t go beyond the basics. Customers will be more likely to open the email if they get a sense that you’re offering more than just an order confirmation.
  • Add value. This is your chance to offer a special promotion, invite the customer to join your social network fan base and email list (don’t add them to list without their permission, even though they’ve agreed to an emailed receipt), cross-sell other products and services, and generally engage the customer beyond the purchase.

 Beyond simply saving paper, emailed receipts have the ability to gain extra mileage from every transaction. Use them to extend your brand, build your email list and gain a loyal following, and soon your emailed receipts will become a vital part of your marketing strategy.