International Storytelling Center boosts online revenue with WebSell

The International Storytelling Center is a nonprofit organization with a storied history. Founded in 1973 Jonesborough, Tennessee, the festival has grown from just a few people to become one of the biggest events of its kind in the world.

They’re devoted to celebrating and sharing the tradition of storytelling in. They also run an online store that handles ticket sales for events during the National Storytelling Festival. Their webstore also accepts donations from patrons and sells festival-related merchandise.

With staff multi-tasking across the business, they needed an e-commerce solution that would reduce manual tasks and automate data entry between Point of Sale system and website. The International Storytelling Center uses pcAmerica’s Cash Register Express POS system in their business, so working with WebSell’s tight integration to CRE became a no-brainer.

increase in site visits

increase in monthly sales

increase in online orders

Note: Figures are taken from a comparison between Aug-Oct 2019 and Aug-Oct 2022. The festival is held in October every year. This comparison compares the two most recent years with an in-person festival only.

The story

The storytelling capital of the world

In October 1973, Jonesborough in Tennessee hosted its first National Storytelling Festival, the first event of its kind anywhere in the world. Then, a small group gathered around an old farm wagon to tell some tales.

Now, the festival brings over 10,000 people together from across the world in festival-sized tents to share stories with each other. The International Storytelling Center was set up to sell event tickets and merchandise as well as celebrate the tradition of the event.

The challenge

Integrating POS system with online webstore

The International Storytelling Center employs a number of people who help out with the festival and coordinate events. That means staff are multi-tasking to ensure everything runs smoothly. That also means there isn’t much time left for time-consuming tasks like data entry.

There simply wasn’t enough time for the business to devote resources to processing web orders and all other orders from 2 different systems. Running a webstore was becoming a burden for the business and they considered whether it was even worth it to keep the webstore online.

The business needed to modernize its systems and they searched for an e-commerce partner that could integrate the existing POS with a webstore and save them countless hours.

We really looked for something which was going to save us a lot of time by integrating with our current POS. We didn’t want to switch our POS system which already worked for us, so it was key that they worked with the POS we already had. Now each customer has all of their purchase history in one place!

Marianne Huff
Festival Registration Coordinator, International Storytelling Center

The solution

Integrating e-commerce with an existing POS

The International Storytelling Center started speaking to WebSell during their search for an e-commerce platform that could integrate with Cash Register Express. They were specifically looking for:

The team at the International Storytelling Center needed something that would reduce manual tasks that could be automated with integrated systems.

With WebSell, any information entered into the Cash Register Express POS system would be automatically reflected on the webstore. That means editing product, ticket, pricing, stock, or customer information only had to be done once, eliminating the need for extra data entry.

WebSell ensured Marianne and her team had the right training to use the platform fully during the onboarding process. If they weren’t sure about any aspect, the support team was ready and available to help out with any questions or concerns.

They needed a website which reflected their values and told the story of their business. Navigating between ticket purchases and donations or viewing event information needed to be seamless and intuitive.

The results

Increased sales, site traffic, and web orders

By switching to WebSell, the Storytelling Center was able to streamline operations and improve the quality of all interactions with customers.

Thanks to their decision to get an integrated e-commerce system, now every order entered into the e-commerce platform is also reflected in their POS system. That means staff have more time to deal directly with customers and deliver more memorable experiences to their storytelling patrons.

Staff now have an easy-to-use platform where they can track every offline and online transaction. They can also work more accurately with customers, knowing that information on their webstore is the most relevant source of truth.

Benefits that the International Storytelling Center saw after implementing WebSell include:

We really like WebSell. I have been able to manage most things myself. When I cannot figure out a problem, the techs are very helpful. The most helpful thing about WebSell is that it was already integrated with our existing point of sale system. The web orders come into our POS and all inventory is controlled in the POS. It’s great!

Marianne Huff
Festival Registration Coordinator, International Storytelling Center

The learnings

What to consider when integrating your POS and e-commerce site

Some key learnings from the International Storytelling Center project which could help other businesses that are thinking of integrating WebSell:

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