6 Ways Top Online Retailers are Spicing Up Transactional Email

Posted by Hannah Stacey 23 May 14

Let’s face it, the term ‘transactional email’ isn’t really all that sexy. Indeed, in the email marketing stakes, transactional emails (post-purchase notifications, newsletter signup confirmations, password retrievals) fall more into the straight-laced, ‘functional’ camp than their glamorous promotional cousins that are designed to delight and captivate.  

Post-purchase (or order confirmation) emails are a prime example of transactional email at its most practical; their purpose is to acknowledge the receipt of an order and confirm a number of details surrounding it. This type of email is often the first point of contact after a purchase and, as a result, order confirmation emails tend to achieve far higher than average open rates.

Moreover, top online brands are increasingly recognising that that the customer journey doesn’t end when they click ‘confirm order’; that post-purchase emails are all part of a brand experience, and a good opportunity to keep customers engaged.

Here are some great examples of how online retailers are spicing up their post-purchase emails.

1) Brand personality

Okay, so post-purchase emails by default have to include some of the more formal stuff. But ultimately they’re still an extension of your brand, and your personality should still come across. This is why many have abandoned plain text emails for more visually and textually appealing alternatives.

Some online retailers do a great job of giving their emails personality, also tapping into that feeling of anticipation and excitement after making an online purchase:


Note how JOY manages to acknowledge receipt of our order without seeming dry and dull - they even congratulate us on our great taste in clothes (cheers guys!).

joy post purchase email

T. H. Baker

Online jewellery retailer T. H. Baker also does a good job of harnessing the excitement and anticipation surrounding a new online purchase.

t.h. baker post purchase email


We defy anyone to read this email and not get chocolate cravings.

thorntons post purchase email


2) Google+ related pages widget

Many brands are starting to make use of the Google+ related pages widget in Gmail. It might not have an earth-shattering effect on your social following, but it’s relatively simple to implement, and provides a great opportunity to get people onto your Google+ page (if you’ve got one, which you should). In order to set this up you have to be sending at least 1000 emails a week, and your email must be digitally signed with DKIM or SPF - more information on how to do this here.

Below is an example of the related pages widget from Topshop, compared with an email that isn’t marked up.

topshop post post purchase email

post purchase email google markup

3) Delivery day estimates

I’m sure I’m not the only one who counts down the days until an online purchase arrives (maybe I am?) and while they’re only estimates, Amazon and ASOS are great at providing a date to expect delivery of your newly-purchased item. This is also great for putting to rest the minds of customers with a deadline to meet (providing, of course, this deadline ends up being met!).

We know we could do the maths in our head when we’re selecting a delivery option, but this is a nice touch that, surprisingly, a lot of online retailers are failing to include.


asos post purchase email



post purchase email

4) Cross-selling

Post-purchase emails provide a fantastic cross-selling opportunity. This lends itself particularly well to some industries - for example, we really like how EasyJet provides us with a helpful list of things we might have forgotten for our holidays when a flight is booked. Likewise, when you purchase a card from Moonpig, the confirmation you receive after tempts you with gift ideas, presumably to accompany the card.


ebay post purchase email


Moonpig post purchase email

5) Making the most of marketing opportunities

While transactional emails shouldn’t stray too far away from their original intended purpose, this doesn’t mean they shouldn’t include marketing messages as well (particularly since larger open rates make these more likely to be seen). Any marketing message should be relevant and unobtrusive - ideally below or alongside the order information. Here are some examples we’ve seen, calling people to enter competitions, sign up to newsletters, download apps and more:

New Look

new look post purchase email


topshop post purchase email

Urban Outfitters

urban outfitters post purchase email


joy post purchase email

6) Product-specific social sharing buttons

Lastly, we really liked this little feature from Amazon: social sharing buttons next to the products that have been purchased for anyone desperate to tell their friends what they’ve just bought.

Amazon post purchase email

And lastly...

To give an idea of overall layout, here are six examples of post purchase emails from ASOS, Urban Outfitters, Topshop, JOY, Moonpig.com and T. H. Baker.




Urban Outfitters







T. H. Baker



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