Drysdales Customers Can't Refuse Western Union Option

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Drysdales, a cataloger and online retailer of Western apparel and footwear, is offering the cash payment option through Western Union to reduce the number of refusals from customers.

Some of the Tulsa, OK, retailer's customers -- typically small-town or rural residents living on a farm or ranch -- prefer transacting with cash or cash on delivery as opposed to credit cards or checks. However, this presents a problem.

"So often with CODs, you send the package and the person's not home when the package arrives or they fail to get a certified check, and then the package comes back to us and we have to bear the shipping costs," said Ken Proctor, IT manager at Drysdales.

Proctor hasn't yet been able to quantify the cost savings, but the Western Union addition has cut the COD refusal rate.

The Western Union option is written into Drysdales' Sigma catalog management software. At the end of the order at www.drysdales.com, for example, the customer is offered the payment options. If he chooses cash or COD, the Western Union option automatically is offered.

If the customer chooses Western Union, he gets an order number, which he takes to a nearby Western Union office, fills out a form and hands over the cash. The Drysdales system automatically is polled every 15 minutes, and all its Western Union orders are conveyed to the Western Union servers nationwide.

Drysdales charges $9 for COD orders. Western Union charges Drysdales customers a $7 fee for its service.

"We found that we have a significant market in rural areas where they're used to doing all their business by cash," Proctor said. "We decided to use Western Union because for years we've been the only Western apparel company to use CODs and we've gotten refusals and we're hoping there'd be an alternative, and Western Union offers an alternative payment by cash."

Founded in 1981, the family-owned Drysdales has five catalogs dropping for the holidays, after Christmas, spring in February, summer in May and fall in August. The company typically mails 1.75 million copies yearly.

A typical 80-page book has 1,000 SKUs selling jeans, shirts, boots, hats and accessories from brands like Levi's, Wrangler, Cinch and Dickie's. Online, the retailer lists 25,000 to 30,000 SKUs, priced like the catalog in the $15 to $200 range. Drysdales has two brick-and-mortar stores in Tulsa.

Drysdales' biggest markets are Texas and California, followed by Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. The company is alerting customers in these markets and others about the Western Union option. The Western Union logo runs on some covers and on the order form. Online, the option is highlighted on the home page. And each outgoing package that's paid by COD has an insert comparing CODs with Western Union and how the latter option is easier.

"We're in the early phases of the campaign, but we're seeing a decline in the CODs, and I think as more people become aware of the Western Union option, it'll pick up," Proctor said. "A lot of people who used CODs are actually happier with this."

Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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