Practical Ecommerce

Offline Sales Tips for Online Merchants

Many brick-and-mortar stores have found success in migrating online. But the trend has reversed somewhat. Pure-play ecommerce companies are finding success with physical stores. We addressed the topic last month, in “Ecommerce Merchants Embrace Brick-and-mortar.” We cited the example of Warby Parker, which found that having locations for customers to try on glasses led to higher conversions.

In this post, I’ll review three offline sales tips.

Cash on Delivery

The rise of mobile payments makes cash on delivery much easier. Columnist Richard Stubbings reviewed potential scenarios for this. Using a mobile payment platform, merchants can offer cash on delivery at checkout and allow shoppers to return — i.e., not accept — a product right at their door. This is better than traditional delivery, wherein customers have to initiate a return.

Merchants can take it a step further by allowing customers to choose their delivery date while they order. Many ecommerce platforms, including WooCommerce, have plugins for this.

I created a cash-on-delivery functionality for a local meat supplier that had no physical retail space. It allowed the supplier to combine orders and make it worthwhile to drive a few hours for, say, 50 deliveries.

Cash on delivery is much easier, administratively, if merchants can integrate online and offline sales in a single accounting, inventory, and payment system. Inventory management was the biggest challenge for a large kayak retailer I worked for. It had two systems — online sales and offline — that were out of sync. The retailer would sell an item offline (in the physical store) and the website would show it as available for sale until a manual update was complete.

Offering cash on delivery is also helpful at trade shows, farmer’s markets, and other offline events.

SMS Notifications

The meat supplier, above, started sending SMS delivery notifications to customers. In the few days before that multi-hour drive, the supplier sends text notices to all applicable customers stating the date and approximate time of the upcoming delivery. Many of these customers would then head to the supplier’s website and place additional orders, increasing the profitability of the delivery.

Twilio can be used to give customers an SMS update on the shipping status of their orders.

Twilio can be used to give customers an SMS update on the shipping status of their orders.

Twilio can facilitate these SMS notices. It integrates with most ecommerce platforms, including WooCommerce via a plugin.

Offline Gift

Last year I gave my oldest daughter a ski pass for Christmas. The problem was that the pass was digital, which provided nothing physical for her to open, as in a gift box. It was a missed opportunity by our local ski resort, which could have offered a solution such as PDF Product Vouchers, a WooCommerce plugin.

Services such as PDF Product Vouchers can convert digital gift certificates into a physical presence.

Services such as PDF Product Vouchers can convert digital gift certificates into a physical presence.

Leveraging PDF Product Vouchers or similar, merchants can design attractive, printable vouchers, for gifts. It converts a basic invoice or receipt into something memorable to the customer and the person who is receiving the gift.

Curtis McHale

Curtis McHale

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