New IndieCommerce Features Foster In-Store & Online Cross-Promotions

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With the completion last week of IndieCommerce’s pre-holiday upgrades, booksellers have a new set of tools to drive sales between their bricks-and-mortar and online stores and customers have an easier shopping experience.

“We are striving to provide booksellers with the best tools to represent their stores,” said ABA Technology Director Matt Supko. “We understand how important it is to capture customer purchases online as well as in-store.”

Some of the upgrades, including the stored credit card feature, are designed to “reduce the amount of friction when customers check out online,” said Supko. “We know it’s very important to have a quick and efficient checkout, and we are constantly trying to find ways to do that.” The store pickup/pay at store options that were introduced last year was a big step toward an improved online checkout experience, Supko added.

Mike Russo, the owner of Russo’s Books in Bakersfield, California, is using IndieCommerce’s new coupon code feature to cross-promote online and in-store shopping. The Russo’s website already features several coupon codes that customers can use to receive discounts on online print book purchases. (The language on the site makes it clear that the discount does not apply to e-book purchases.) The current coupons are aimed at the general public, but Russo will also be using the coupon codes to target specific groups (for example, a radio ad will offer a coupon code for listeners.)

He also plans to feature coupon codes in the store’s weekly newsletter, which reaches more than 3,000 customers, and they’ll be used on bag-stuffers to drive more in-store shoppers to the website. Next week, store staff will pass out a code to encourage in-store shoppers to shop online on Thanksgiving Day. In the works is a JPG coupon valid for in-store shopping only that will be sent via e-mail to local customers.

“It is this cross-promoting between online and in-store shoppers that I am most excited about,” said Russo. “Finally, we see this as a great vehicle for spotlighting specific titles in a meaningful way. Although these efforts are still in their infancy, we see this as a way to show our customers that we are competitive with our national rivals. Kudos to ABA for adding this feature!”

Hicklebee’s in San Jose, California, is using the in-store appearance by a local book blogger this Friday to test the new coupon code feature, and it’s already yielded about seven orders.

“That was a fun thing to do,” said Hicklebee’s manager Ann Seaton, adding that the store plans to do similar things with the coupon codes in the future, as well as include them in the store’s newsletter.

Hicklebee’s also plans to use the bulk product upload to offer the store’s unique inventory on its IndieCommerce site. “It’s all good stuff, and it’ll all help us make our online more like our in-store experience,” said Seaton.