The Perfect E-Receipt: Do’s and Don’ts

Posted by Rin Chau on

Does the perfect e-receipt really exist? It’s time to explore how brands are doing it and uncover what a perfect receipt should look like.

In the time between my first blog and this, I’ve been astonished to stumble across more examples of e-receipt. I visited Miss Selfridge and the sales assistant asked if I wanted the receipt emailed to me. She took my email address, but just to be safe, I requested for a paper receipt too. Minutes later my phone beeped and there was my e-receipt sent almost instantly and I noticed on my paper receipt that there was a code for me to use online (www.missselfridge.com/receipt) if I wanted to have them email me a digital copy.

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Miss Selfridge also used this opportunity to confirm that the address they have on file is the correct email address, which is a great way to help with list quality. In my opinion, Miss Selfridge is leading by example. So let’s take a look at my list of “do’s” and “don’ts” for sending an ideal e-receipt.

Do’s

  • Collect accurate email address: Remember, e-receipts can be sent to the wrong person if the sales assistant types in the wrong email address. Make sure you have processes in place to reduce the chance of that happening. Inaccurate email addresses can also lead to deliverability issues through high unknown user rates (i.e., invalid email addresses) or high complaint rates (i.e., subscribers marking your emails as spam) and will frustrate customers who don’t receive the receipt they’re expecting to get.
  • Balance receipt content vs marketing content: Always remember that the primary purpose of the email is for a receipt, so keep this in mind when creating the email. Have the transaction details on top and marketing content at the bottom and ensure the receipt vs marketing content has a fair balance.
  • Clear subject lines: Make sure the subject line is clear. Mothercare’s subject line, “Your receipt from Mothercare Kingston” helps me understand what the email is for, and the store location ‘Kingston,’ helps me easily recall what I bought.
  • Personalisation: Personalise your receipts with useful information for the customer. Include information like last refund/exchange date, store location/address, cashier’s name, etc.
  • Time specific: Send the e-receipt as quickly as possible so customers can be sure that they have the email before they leave the shop. As a minimum, input and validate the email address before they leave the checkout to improve your chances of reaching the right person.
  • Print-friendly version: Include a print-friendly design, or even better, build your system so that your customer can simply present the e-receipt for things like refunds or exchanges.
  • Thank the customer: Including a short sentence is enough to show appreciation and make them feel loved.
  • Make use of opportunity: Use this chance to cross-sell. Dynamically populate products or services that your customer may be interested in. Reiterate the savings they’ve made and include links to product information—such as user guides—that they may find useful.
  • Social network: Consider adding social share links so that customers can easily post about their purchase to Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.
  • Deliverability: Follow deliverability best practices and make sure you have a good sender reputation to minimise the risk of being delivered to the spam folder or being blocked. Ensure accurate data is collected at point of sale.
  • Security and Privacy: Be conscious that consumers may be concerned about privacy and security issues, demonstrate that you take security seriously both through your checkout staff and in your privacy policy. Bear in mind that any digital documents are easier to be manipulated than paper. To protect your customers and your brand, employ security and fraud prevention such as unique barcodes which can be used to minimise this risk.
  • Terms and Conditions: The back of a paper receipt almost always details your return/exchange policies, include a link to this in your terms & conditions and your policies.
  • Mobile: Make sure your receipts are mobile optimised. If your shopper is out and about shopping, the likelihood is that they’ll be reading the email on their mobile. If your system accepts e-receipts for a refund or exchange, the receipt must absolutely render well on mobile!
  • Give customers the option to trigger/retrigger an e-receipt: Your customer may not have received their receipt (e.g., incorrect email address, full mailbox) or may have changed their mind later and decided after leaving the shop that they prefer an emailed receipt.
  • E-receipt FAQ page: Debenhams have a page dedicated on their website detailing FAQs around e-receipts, which is extremely helpful and interesting.

Overall, make the experience a pleasant one for your customers.

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Don’ts

  • Do not assume that the customer who wants an e-receipt also wants additional marketing: Think of how you might react yourself if you started receiving marketing emails that you didn’t expect after agreeing to an e-receipt. It’s likely to drive you to press the junk/spam button which may impact the sender’s deliverability. While from a legal standpoint, using opt-out data is ok (because the email address was acquired from a purchase ) the downside could be annoyed customers. We advise that if you’re going to do this, test it first or use a separate marketing opt-in at point of sale. This is increasingly important as we prepare ourselves for the new EU regulation (GDPR – General data protection regulation) in which consent requirements become more stringent. If you do add the email address to your marketing database, make this clear to your customer and give them a very easy way to unsubscribe.
  • Don’t go completely paperless (yet): Remember some customers prefer paper receipts, so still give them that option. If you aim to stop paper receipts entirely, phase them out in stages. Research whether this is the right option for your customers and business before taking that decision.
  • You may be tempted but do not overwhelm the e-receipt with marketing messages. This is particularly important because there are regulations to comply with. Emails that contain both transactional and commercial content will be considered as commercial if, based on the subject line positioning of transactional content, your recipient believes it to be a commercial email. An e-receipt’s primary purpose is transactional, not commercial – try not to abuse it.
  • Gift receipts, do not spoil a surprise! Some partners or family members may share an email account. Train your staff to advise customers particularly during gift seasons (Christmas, Valentines Day etc) that they may risk exposing the present to the recipient if they’re using a shared email account to receive receipts. Instead, offer a paper gift receipt or better, offer an e-gift-receipt that the customer can trigger themselves (using a code) or set a delayed date for the email to be sent.

Not sure where to start? Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll show some of my favourite e-receipt examples.


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About Rin Chau

Rin Chau is an Email Consultant at Return Path. She has nine years’ marketing experience (seven specializing in email) and has worked in PR and marketing, account management and operational roles throughout her career. Prior to joining Return Path in 2012, Rin spent some years working at EMS (Experian Marketing Services) and was formerly a Marketing Manager working for a trade association. She loves to hypothesize, enjoys researching industry trends and using data to prove her hypotheses. Rin holds an IPM diploma in Sales Promotion and a Postgraduate diploma in Digital Marketing.

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