21 Nov Edelweiss360 Helps Indies Send Personalized Emails that Match Customers to Books
The holiday season is quickly approaching. It is a busy time for independent bookstores, with some of the highest sales of the year. As with most retailers, this is also a time with heavy customer marketing to drive traffic to the store.
“We get creative with holiday marketing. In addition to social media and our website, we rely on email marketing to our loyalty program members, but we’re limited in our ability to personalize what we send. There’s a lot more potential there that we just haven’t been able to tap,” says Nicole Magistro, owner of The Bookworm of Edwards.
That is about to change with the introduction of Edelweiss360, a bookstore-to-consumer marketing tool being developed by Above the Treeline, the creators of Edelweiss+ and Edelweiss+Analytics. Edelweiss360 allows booksellers to efficiently craft and send store-branded, personalized emails to customers based on individual purchase behavior and staff knowledge of customers. The system tracks both in-store and online conversion rates to help booksellers monitor the success of the program.
Edelweiss360 integrates a store’s customer transaction data, its inventory data (drawn from Edelweiss+Analytics), and publisher title listings, reviews, and other pertinent information available in Edelweiss+. It enables stores to easily create email campaigns containing carefully selected titles or events for exactly the customers who may be interested in them.
In addition to driving foot-traffic to the store, this new service will expand a store’s online ordering and pre-ordering capabilities to better compete with online retailers. While large online retailers like Amazon utilize their recommendation engine to send personalized emails to their customer base, generating upwards of 30% of their revenue, independent bookstores are not well-positioned to compete in this area. Edelweiss360 enables stores to leverage existing loyalty programs and previously untapped customer data. Currently, the tool allows for email marketing only, but future iterations are likely to allow for text and online delivery of personalized recommendations, expanding the audience of reachable customers.
“Personalizing emailed recommendations for customers improves conversion rates, and it’s just a better customer experience. Independent bookstores have a strong competitive advantage against mass retailers in how they personalize their service to individual customers and their community. Our goal with Edelweiss360 for Booksellers is to enable indies to bring that personalized handselling to the digital world, opening up avenues for new sales,” says John Rubin, CEO and Founder of Above the Treeline, the creators of Edelweiss+. “The indie market is at the heart of everything we do. The momentum for Edelweiss360 has been growing for years. Our clients have told us how they’ve struggled to manage pre-orders and provide effective email marketing on par with large retailers. Edelweiss360 allows them to send personalized recommendations to their customers to drive in-store and online sales.”
For Nicole Magistro, whose store is part of the beta program, the anticipated benefits of Edelweiss360 are many. “We wanted to be part of the beta program because Edelweiss360 will allow us to handsell even when our customers are not in the store. The views of customer data are unlike anything we’re able to pull from our POS. Furthermore, being able to track how recommendations directly turn into sales will be so valuable,” says Magistro.
“We wanted to be part of the beta program because Edelweiss360 will help us be better and more efficient at what we already do really well: handsell books. Edelweiss360 takes what’s in our heads and in our POS system and puts it in one place – providing us with valuable information we can use to handsell even when our customers aren’t in the store or when a knowledgeable colleague might be absent,” says Annie Butterworth Jones, owner of The Bookshelf. “The views of customer data are unlike any we’ve had before, and I cannot wait to see the ways this improves our business functionality.”
Rubin and his team are also having discussions with publishers who are looking for new and effective ways to promote their titles to the indie market. Through Edelweiss360, there is the potential for publishers to offer promotional opportunities to the independent bookstore channel as a whole and enable individual bookstores to choose which opportunities might benefit them personally.
“We are passionate about offering this service to independent bookstores, which is why we’ve invested in its development. We hope to offer it to our bookstore clients in a cost-neutral fashion and are exploring options for publisher partnerships that could benefit stores,” according to Rubin.
Currently, a dozen independent bookstores across the country are beta testing Edelweiss360. This includes a mix of different size stores and various POS systems. It will be available for stores that subscribe to Edelweiss+Analytics in the first half of 2020. Bookstores with questions about the program may inquire here.
Sample of the Edelweiss360 dashboard for bookstores:
Example of an email newsletter to a customer:
View of an individual customer: