Best practice: How to leverage e-commerce receipts and order deliveries

Delivering an e-commerce order and receipt not only means you’re meeting your legal obligations, it can be an opportunity to acquire new customers or encourage repeat business.

All Australian businesses are required by law to provide customers with a receipt for any purchase valued at $75 or more. E-commerce retailers have the option of issuing receipts via email, or via email plus including a printed receipt with the customer’s order.

According to Bridget Holland, Marketing and Brand Manager at print, packaging and fulfilment business Xpadite, “It is best practice to always provide customers with a receipt, which should include the business name and ABN / ACN, the date of supply, the product or service and the price.”

Holland says that while most of Xpadite’s clients send receipts via email, the business recommends including all the receipt information on the delivery note as well.

“Remember, the receipt and delivery note are about an actual transaction,” she adds. “They’re operational, so they’re a great place to include any other ‘operational’ information you might have, like your returns policy, warranties and so on. And be sure to include your contact details and a transaction reference number.”

Adding value

A customer order can also act as a piece of direct mail or add value for e-commerce retailers and customers.

“This is important,” says Holland, “because it’s hard to entice customers back to your e-commerce store or expose them to new stock or special offers. A traditional retail store has shop windows. An online retailer has email, and we all know email open rates are low.

“But when someone orders, they’re going to get something they want and they’re unpacking it like a present, so they most likely feel like they’re getting a ‘treat’ already. What better time to showcase all the other products you can offer them?”

She points out that e-commerce businesses can also send direct mail or catalogues, even when they don’t have an order to fulfil. “It’s an advantage they have over store-based retailers – they have their customers’ addresses! Not that you want to abuse that information, but an occasional direct-mail piece can really cut through in a way email doesn’t.”

Nurturing loyalty and testing offers

If a retailer has a point-based loyalty program, Holland says it makes sense to include the loyalty points balance on the receipt or delivery note. Xpadite has also seen clients successfully use upsell offers and discount vouchers on receipts.

She says that it’s critical for the business to be clear about its goal and to structure an incentive to motivate the desired customer behaviour. “Are you looking for new customers or increased revenue per existing customer?” she asks. “Or maybe you have stock which simply isn’t selling and you want to get rid of it and realise some cash.”

There are also many different types of offer you can explore. “Different strategies work for different products and different scenarios,” says Holland. “The great thing about e-commerce delivery is that you can set up a trial and see what offer works best, without sending conflicting messages. For example, send one-third of your orders with no offer; send one-third with a ‘20 per cent off, valid for 14 days’ voucher; and send one-third with a ‘these products 30 per cent off’ offer. Then look at the data to see which one converts most often.”

In order to know what works, you may need to set up promotional codes for different discounts within your shopping cart: percentage discounts, dollar amounts off, two-for-one-offers and so on. These codes can allow you to pull reports on how many people saw a particular offer and how many of them redeemed it.

Other tactics are to send a free gift to delight customers or send samples with an order to encourage customers to try other products in your range. “Once again, it really depends on your brand, your product and your situation,” says Holland. “If you’re offering high-end exclusive items, a cheap gift could just look tacky. But if you’re selling high-end beauty products and you have some sample sizes of a new range, then maybe you’re offering an opportunity to try something new.”

Online retailers could also vary their special offers or free gifts, to reward frequent shoppers or those who make big purchases. “That may mean you can justify a nicer gift or bigger discount.”

Making an impression

Even if you decide not to include discounts or other incentives with the order and receipt, professional-looking paperwork and beautiful packaging reflect well on your business. Because many people have their e-commerce shopping delivered to their workplaces, it’s an added opportunity to catch the eye of a customer’s colleagues.

“There’s one company we’re working with at the moment who supplies a niche range of drinks,” says Holland. “These are sought-after and expensive drinks, so each purchase is beautifully wrapped with tissue paper and a fine box to reinforce that luxury impression. It’s more expensive than the wholesale packaging, which is just practical to protect the bottles. Then again, the price is higher too, so there’s margin to cover the wrapping.”

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