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 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.
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
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:
- An e-commerce platform that could integrate with Cash Register Express: The business was using CRE in their current brick-and-mortar and they weren’t looking to switch POS systems, with all the headaches that brings.
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.
- An e-commerce solution that made e-commerce hassle-free: The Storytelling Center required something which made e-commerce easy to manage. With staff required to attend many other tasks, particularly around the festival, managing the e-commerce site needed to be easy, no matter who was using it.
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.
- A brand new webstore: They also needed a new webstore which looks great on all devices and gave customers a smooth online ordering experience.
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.
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:
- Eliminated manual data entry: By switching to WebSell, the business was able to reduce time-draining manual data entry by having offline and online data connected. That meant more time for staff to add value in other areas of the business.
- Better customer experiences: By freeing up staff time, they could focus more on delivering excellent customer service. The business also got a brand new fully responsive website so customers could shop from any device.
- Increased monthly sales, traffic, and orders: The Storytelling Center saw notable monthly increases to sales, orders, and traffic while using WebSell.
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
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:
- Plan your integration fully and early: You should consider the full scope of your project and include every aspect of the integration that you’ll need. Investing time early on will pay off down the line.
- Understand how customers use your site: Consider how customers use your current site and gather feedback from them about what would make their lives easier when ordering.
- Involve the rest of your team in the process: When working with a new e-commerce platform, include as many people as possible that will be regularly using the software. Investing time in early training and onboarding can reduce stressful headaches later on.
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