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How Yesterday’s Books Uses SimpleTexting to Accept Orders During COVID-19

Instead of building an expensive online store, Yesterday’s Books text-enabled its landline number. Now it uses SMS to help manage customer orders.

Company

Yesterday’s Books is the largest used bookstore in Central Valley, California. It boasts an inventory of over 100,000 used, new, rare, and out-of-print books.

Challenge

The owner and manager, Paula Kiss, needed a way to continue operating, despite closing its doors for nearly two months.

Results

Yesterday’s Books uses texting to manage customers’ orders efficiently and cost-effectively without needing to build an online store.

 

When we asked Paula Kiss, owner of Yesterday’s Books, how she reacted to California’s shelter-in-place order back in March, she told us, “she felt a little panic.” 

But then, like many small business owners, she got to work.

Yesterday’s Books is an institution in Modesto, California. When the governor made his announcement, it was the second time the store closed its doors in 40 years. (The first was due to a fire.)

Why Yesterday’s Books Started Managing Orders By SMS

Paula knew she needed to make loyal customers aware the store was still available for all of their reading needs. 

It wasn’t realistic to build an online store with the 100,000+ items in stock at Yesterday’s Books. Instead, Paula added a form to the store’s website where people can put in a book request.

Web form on Yesterday's books website

At first, Paula followed up with these requests via email, but there were several problems with this approach:

  • Customers sometimes missed her response
  • Customers didn’t always respond once she confirmed a book’s availability
  • There was an inefficient lag between her follow-up and a customer’s response

She knew that these issues were not going away anytime soon and decided to research different communication channels.

Paula chose SMS as the solution because the average response time for a text message is 60X faster than email. She believed that texting would help minimize the back-and-forth with customers, meaning orders could be processed and completed much quicker.

Getting Started With SimpleTexting

Text enabling Yesterday’s Books existing landline was a priority for Paula.

"People know our phone number as we’ve been here for 40 years, so it was important that we could text from it."

Paula Kiss

Owner, Yesterday's Books

When you text-enable a landline, the number still receives calls as usual, but texts can be sent and received from SimpleTexting.

Paula’s interactions with our customer service team reassured her that she’d made the right decision.

“You guys were super fast at answering my questions. Knowing that I was going to get excellent customer service made it an easier decision.”

As we mentioned above, customers fill out a form on Yesterday’s Book’s website. Once Paula receives the request, she follows up by text message to let the customer know if the book is available or not. 

Today 11:00 AM
Hi John, this is Yesterday’s Books. I have Glass Castle in paperback, but Invention of Wings is in hardcover. Both on hold for you. We are open Mon-Sat 10:30-3.

She then manages all of the conversations using our SMS inbox’s features. For example, she marks a conversation “closed” once it’s complete and uses our notes features to leave reminders of the book a customer requested.

Finally, she’s a fan of the fact she can manage the text messages from our mobile app, her iPad, or the store’s desktop.

Faster Response Times and Happier Customers

Paula tells us that the most significant difference between taking orders by email and by text is the speed of response. 

Beyond the benefits to Yesterday’s Books order volume, she’s also found that customers appreciate text messages’ convenience.

"“I’ve found that 90% of people want us to text them.”"

Paula Kiss

Owner, Yesterday's Books

Even though the bookstore is starting to reopen, she plans to continue managing orders with text messages. 

If you’re a retailer that wants to stop taking orders by email and use SMS instead, we encourage you to sign up for a 14-day free trial.

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