Email Marketing

3 strategies to collect customers’ emails in-store

Welcoming in-store shoppers to your online marketing program – 3 ways to email-collection best practices to get it done right

According to a recent Data Axle survey report, a third of retailers indicate that cross-channel integration is among their top 3 priorities for 2016. Yet almost half of retailers do not collect email addresses in-store, arguably the lowest hanging fruit for marketers.

Why the lowest-hanging? That’s because since past purchasers are more likely to engage than non-purchases, it’s much easier to maintain a customer relationship than to foster a new one. In the digital age we live in, the survey finding is surprising, if not alarming; those who do not adapt to the new standards, will be left behind.

Take the music industry for example. If you haven’t heard of Muscle Shoals, it was a world renowned recording studio that eventually saw its demise due to its unwillingness to adopt technological advances that soon became the norm in sound recording. This small studio in southern Alabama started out with no fancy gadgets or engineering geniuses and quickly grew to attract musical greats like Aretha Franklin and the Rolling Stone. Hits were created thanks to the unique mix of creativity and energy in the studio.

However, when Muscle Shoals wouldn’t convert from analog to digital recording they started losing out on new records and eventually became yesterday’s news. Their inability to adapt to digital editing, recording, and sound techniques rendered them defenseless against the growing competition.

Segway to email marketing…

It’s 2019 yet many digital marketers have not fully recognized the marketing value of their in-store shoppers (the people visiting your brick-and-mortar stores in the “analog” world). They have chosen to get out of bed, put some clothes on, and travel to YOUR store to then spend time looking at your products in person.

They sound pretty committed to your brand, dare I say, they sound like the perfect candidates to join your email subscription in-store. And even though they haven’t arrived to your physical location as a ‘digital’ customer, you can rest assured that they belong to the digital world, be it through their smartphones, social media profiles, or email accounts. Simply put, it’s much easier.

I sometimes find myself wearing my marketer hat, even when I’m “analog” shopping. So let me share this true encounter (of what not to do) when I was asked to share my email during a recent in-store purchase:

Cashier: Hello, find everything OK today?

Me: I did, thank you!

Cashier: Your total comes to $22.50. Do you want a receipt?

Me: (Looking at my phone and 2 plastic cards) Nah, it’s 2019…

Cashier: Do you want to sign up for our emails? I’m just supposed to ask (insert cashier rolling eyes). If you ask me it’s just a scam, and we’re going to send you a ton of spam.

Me: That’s an interesting approach… I work in email marketing.

Cashier: Well, I’ll just put a fake email in for you then, you get what I mean if you work in email marketing!

Three thoughts immediately come to mind:

  1. I made a purchase in-store – This is a strong indication of brand interest so I was the perfect person to ask “Would you like to subscribe for our emails that include exclusive in-store promotions?”
  2. I declined a paper receipt – this could be an indication that I am open to a paperless (read, digital) way to receive proof of purchase
  3. I mentioned I work in email marketing – Oddly, the cashier took that as further validation of his earlier assumption, and suggested to use a fake email address. (Don’t worry, I did provide them the correct email address ☺)

The interaction was confusing, so I asked myself, if this retail scenario was an isolated incident or if the cashier approached everyone this way? Did the other cashiers do this too?

That was just one example of what could have been a missed in-store opportunity by a retailer (had I followed the cashier’s suggestion and given a fake email). So what do you need to know as a digital marketer, CMO, email manager, digital strategist or even an in-store cashier to avoid becoming the next Muscle Shoals?

Here are 3 best practices for welcoming in-store shoppers into your brand’s digital program*:

  1. Make collection optional: Consumers must be aware that they are not required to provide an email address in order to complete a transaction or receive a receipt. The incentive to sign-up can be an e-receipt, a discount or other benefits, as long as it’s clear that opting into a brand’s mailing program is 100% optional.
  2. Use name capture tools: It is a standard practice to have the cashier enter a customer’s email address into the POS system or provide a physical sign-up sheet where shoppers can write their information down. These methods are very prone to errors and altogether inefficient. Instead, a more reliable option would be to use a tool that allows buyers to enter their own email address into the POS system and confirm a customer’s subscription with a true opt-in process (i.e. an email that prompts the consumer to click to confirm his or her subscription).
  3. Provide opt-in & opt-out options: Consumers should have control over what types of emails they receive. Encourage them to elect to receive promotions (perhaps with a purchase incentive), in addition to transactional communications or provide an option to opt-out of additional mailings at the end of an e-receipt.

For a great example of how it’s done, check out Best Buy’s* email collection process. They are able to have in-store customers confirm their email address during purchase and link it with their consumer loyalty program instantly.


The days of building an email list manually are far gone. In 2019, aligning online and offline customer data should be part of every savvy marketer’s strategy. By following –these 3 in-store email collection best practices and communicating their value to all customer-facing employees, brands can ensure their message and goals are preserved throughout the process.

*Check out the full list of best practices and Best Buy’s feature here:

Kevin Gallant
Manager, Intelligence Products

Kevin’s approach is to become deeply involved in clients needs and expectations. Kevin comes from a detail oriented background with 5 years experience in the digital and print marketing field. Now, a six-year veteran at Data Axle with the Deliverability team, Kevin's ability and passion for attention to detail and trending patterns has excelled him into the multiple platforms Data Axle supports. As the West Coast Intelligence Product Manager, Kevin provides a strong background in email-centric clients focusing on deliverability and competitive monitoring.