A regular question on the Etsy forums is whether one should enclose a printed receipt when sending out the items you sell online.
Here are some of the reasons why I include a receipt with sales from my vintage shop on Etsy. And why I am convinced they can be a very powerful and useful part of your branding.
A receipt is a great opportunity to include your branding with your product. Very often people complain that they hear folks saying they bought items “from Etsy” rather than from the individual sellers. A receipt with your branding on it is a cheap and effective way to ensure your customers know they bought from YOU.
When I first wrote this blog post, I used to make the receipts for my Antique Dog Prints shop (on Etsy) using Serif PagePlus. You could use any word-processing or desktop-publishing program to do the same thing.
I usually typed in the customers details and printed them out when needed. I also keep some ready printed “blank” ones to fill in with a pen if I had printer problems (my printer has its moments).
Then I swapped to printing my receipts directly from Etsy. They have now added far more of the shops’ own branding to the receipts than they once did. Below is a picture of these receipts, with my shop banner at the top.
And in November 2018 I went back to using my own receipts. I preferred the extra control I had to make the receipts unique to me.
For a lot more information on branding your craft selling business, check out the Branding for Craft Sellers (listen to the podcast or read the transcript).
If you regularly sell multiple units then it provides a convenient list for the customer to check that everything is included in the parcel. Most supply sellers include a document like this as a packing list. They also use it as a checklist for themselves when packing up the order.
You can include your return address on the receipt, along with any instructions for returns. Of course, you don’t really want your customer to return their purchase – and most of the time they will have no desire to do so! But having this information clearly available shows confidence in your product and is reassuring to the customer. If you are in the European Union you must have ensure your customer has access to this information anyway.
Some people like to include a polite reminder, on their recipts, about leaving feedback. I don’t personally do this, but have seen many Etsy and eBay sellers who do so. As long as it is subtle and polite it should not cause offence.
5 Loss Prevention
It is a fact of like that now and then a parcel gets damaged on route to its location. Addresses can become unreadable. Having a receipt inside the parcel is a back up in case this happens. The postal workers can readdress the parcel and ensure it reaches your customer. Or get it back to you safely. If you have listed the contents then even if the parcel is very badly damaged the post office may be able to reassemble it and deliver it.
To me, this benefit alone justifies including a receipt in parcels.
Sometimes people buy a lot of things in a short period of time, for example at Christmas. When the parcels start arriving, it is handy to be able to tell which items came from where, and how much was spent on them – without having to go to the computer. Including a receipt means the recipient instantly knows who sent the parcel.
7 Customers’ Convenience
If you sell supplies then your customers may well appreciate the receipt to file away for tax purposes. Sure, they could print it off Etsy themselves, but if you are providing it then this little extra convenience may help them become a repeat customer.
The same can be true for vintage sellers. A fact of life is that sometimes your customers will be buying things to resell. If so then they will will be pleased to discover a receipt as a record of how much they paid and for tax purposes. You will have got the sale you wanted, and making their life a wee bit easier may encourage then to buy from you in the future.
When you buy online from a “big company” you will always get a receipt. It is somewhat standard business practice. So, when doing the same thing yourself, you are helping your little business to look more professional. This is reassuring to customers.
9 Guest Buyers May Appreciate Them
If someone buys from your Etsy shop with a Guest account they may find it difficult to check their order later to confirm the details. Including those details on your receipt is convenient for them – and convenience is a great element of customer service.
10 The Opportunity to Collect Emails etc
The receipt is an ideal opportunity to suggest that your customer joins your newsletter list. You can then keep them up to date on your news. This is particularly handy if you sell on a marketplace like Etsy where there is no built-in options for collecting newsletter emails on the website.
You can also include a little subtle advertising on a receipt if you want (though personally I’d recommend keeping this to a minimal as some people dislike to see it). For example, if you have a special promotion running you could mention it. Or you could have a small advert for a special product.
And some people like to include a coupon code to encourage a repeat purchase.
Personally I think the benefits of including a receipt more than justify the tiny cost in paper and ink to do so.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject 🙂
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