Email Marketing: Independent Retail's Ace in the Hole


It's no secret that many independent retailers are struggling with lower store traffic. Online shopping acts as a huge draw from brick-and-mortar business, while the aggressive strategies of the large national retailers create further difficulties. An examination of traditional marketing strategies indicates that independent retailers will need to implement new strategies to compete in their markets.

Current Industry Trends

Decline in traditional marketing tactics. Newspapers are struggling to maintain readership. Subscriptions are down and costs are up. With so many other marketing media available now, target audiences are largely bypassing this once tried-and-true medium.

Website relevance. How do customers find retailers on the web? Simply having a website is not the answer, especially if it doesn't show up in searches until page 2. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is critical, and large online merchants and big stores are buying preference in these searches, pushing smaller companies backwards.

Email marketing is an effective means to communicate with past customers. If a retailer can simply get previous, happy customers to visit the store two or three additional times a year, the impact on revenue will be significant. Of course, this requires having their email address in the first place.

Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram. Retailers have adopted strategies with these and other outlets to varying effect. With changes and new trends emerging every year, keeping up can be exhausting, and results are difficult to gauge.

Of all these options, Email Marketing is by far the best tool for the independent merchant.

Benefits of Email Marketing

  • Messages are sent directly to the most loyal customers.

  • By referencing web properties in emails, retailers can direct customers to them directly, bypassing search engines and the risk of exposing customers to competitors.

  • Using additional customer metrics, retailers can personalize emails based on special events, personal taste, price-range preferences and more.

  • Email marketing is an extremely cost-effective option when done right.

Critical Issues in capturing customer email addresses

  • Customers are reluctant to provide their email address for fear of spam.

  • Staff does not understand the importance of collecting email addresses and give this task a halfhearted effort.

  • Data quality is often poor. Sometimes customers give fake email addresses, or clerks input the wrong information.

  • Both customers and employees may view collecting email addresses as a delay in customer service during peak times.

Tips to get the most customer email addresses

Provide customers with positive reasons for providing their email addresses

  • Advance notice of sales and new products

  • Discounts, coupons, and special offers

  • Invitations to special events

  • Loyalty programs

Offer direct incentives for customers to provide their email address

  • Discount from next purchase

  • Free token of appreciation for signing up

Educate staff on the importance of collecting email addresses

  • Make all staff aware that each address will be used to encourage return visits and increase store traffic.

  • Discuss tangible results: with targeted emails, a sale made today could mean two or three additional sales in the upcoming year.

  • Offer incentives or prizes for successfully collecting email addresses and display results in employee areas.

Advantages of emailed digital receipts

For the customer

  • Digital receipts are easily maintained should there be a reason to use them in the future for returning products or requesting service for a warranty issue. The dated receipt and proof of purchase are easily accessible from their records or the retailers.

  • Unlike paper receipts, digital receipts are not easily lost. Finding a digital receipt is as

  • easy as the click of a mouse, whether it's from the customer's inbox or a receipt management program.

  • Digital receipts can provide significantly more information then is usually printed on a paper receipt, including store contact information, the name of the clerk, thorough product information, and special offers.

  • Digital receipts assure loyalty, frequent purchase, VIP and preferred customer programs are correctly maintained and updated with information printed on each receipt.

For the merchant

  • The incentive for customers results in a significantly higher number of email addresses captured at the point-of-sale, increasing the ability to execute much larger email marketing campaigns.

  • Digital receipts provide an opportunity to add promotional material on the digital receipt that is emailed to the customer.

  • Email campaigns can be monitored for success. As customers make additional purchases and use the digital receipt function, their purchases can be tracked back to the campaign that drew them back to the store.

  • Digital receipts provide data on customers' product preferences, allowing for the design of more targeted campaigns in the future.

  • Customer service transactions are quicker and confrontations over lost receipts are eliminated.

  • Purchases that qualify for loyalty programs, frequent purchase, VIP or preferred customer programs are easily identified for posting to customer accounts.

With a Little Effort...   

any independent, retailer can make email marketing work

by improving the ability to collect email addresses, retailers can develop a better understanding of their customers, cultivate real relationships and create a loyal customer base that will ultimately drive repeat business.

For the last five years, flexReceipts has been helping retailers make email marketing the key to driving floor traffic, increasing repeat customers and ensuring customer loyalty.