An in-store coupon is a promotional tool in the form of a document or electronic graphic that can be redeemed for a discount when purchasing goods or services. In-store coupons are generally issued by manufacturers or retailers to consumers and are usually only available in-store but may be distributed through direct mail, apps, social media or other marketing means. A coupon will feature a specific savings amount or other special offers to drive consumers to purchase specific goods or services from specific retailers.
Coupons have become an important and required part of retail. Customers are demanding them now from every retailer. Coupons were originally created as a tool for manufacturers to direct the purchase decision of a customer in a retail store. For example, if you were a manufacturer of crackers, you would create a coupon for your crackers to direct the customer to your product since the retail store may have six or seven different cracker lines. So in other words, you create a “sale” on your item as a manufacturer. The customer gets the discount and the retailer is reimbursed by the manufacturer when the coupon is turned in.
However, in today’s social media-driven world, coupons can be delivered easily and can even be stored on the customer’s mobile device for redemption. Apps like Groupon and RetailMeNot or Coupon Sherpa have become incredibly popular with consumers. Many stores offer their own apps that allow you to download coupons weekly.
When planning to use a coupon in your retail store marketing:
1. Always have an expiry. Creating a sense of urgency for the customer and protecting exposure. (i.e. a coupon from two years ago showing up.)
2. State limitations clearly. Make it clear and make sure to use the phrase “may not be combined with any other offer.” One of the biggest coupon mistakes retailers make is not considering this limitation. Without it, it allows the customer to “stack” multiple coupons in an offer and even use them on an already reduced sale item.
3. Make the SAVINGS stand out. Coupons have to compete for customer’s attention just like all other marketing. The number or offer should be the focus of the coupon.
4. Make it easy. The customer won’t redeem if it’s a chore for them to save a buck. If the customer experience is sacrificed, and you do more damage than good.
5. Make sure all employees are aware and ready. Make sure the first time they see the coupon is not when the customer shows it to them.
The bottom line on coupons, they are a terrific tool. Customers want them, and you should use them. But make them a pleasant experience. Make them something that tells the customer you want them to use them. Redeem them gladly and with a smile. Never make the customer feel like they are doing something wrong by using a coupon.
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