From the February 2004 issue of Entrepreneur

Customers of Mary-Ellen's Flowers and Gifts (www.mary-ellens.com) get more than just a transaction record when they make a purchase. Instead, the Mooresville, North Carolina, florist and gift shop uses its register receipts to relay information about special discounts and promotions, cut flower specials and Web site information.

Done right, receipts can be an effective way to capture your customer's attention, says Jon Schallert, president of The Schallert Group Inc., a retail management and marketing firm in Sorrento, Florida. Schallert shares some dos and don'ts:

  • Don't use coupons.
  • Automatically printing a discount offer usually isn't effective. "Discounts attract the least loyal customer, and you need to discount so drastically to make an impression, it's often not worth it," Schallert advises. Instead, list your Web site URL, in-store offers and special events.
  • Do train employees.
  • "[The receipts] didn't bring much business until we started pointing out the information to customers at checkout, training [employees] to [promote] the receipts and the Web site," says Tracy Hurt Dial, 37-year-old owner of Mary-Ellen's.
  • Don't invest in unnecessary graphics.
  • Schallert believes it's more important to include clear contact information, including the name of the person who handled the transaction, and encourage the customer to get back in touch with that person if there's a problem. Says Schallert, "That way, you've taken a step in the relationship process."