Today’s retailers are benefiting from robust customer relationship management (CRM) systems to better understand their customers and to readily share news about new products and special offers. But they need to think strategically about how to leverage the information available to them to connect with consumers at the right time, in the right way, with offers that will compel them to take action.
Changed Shopping Habits
It’s not surprising that COVID has had a major impact on shopping preferences since March 2020. What may be surprising, though, is that retailers can still generate sales—online and in-store—by focusing on the right consumer drivers.
A study from my company, CodeBroker, based on responses from more than 1,400 U.S. consumers, offers insights into exactly what retailers can do to spur sales, even during the pandemic. The report, titled “Consumer Shopping Habits During the Covid Pandemic,” takes a look at the changing attitudes among retail shoppers and what businesses can do to reinvigorate retail spending, even during these trying times.
It’s all about extending the right offers in the right way at the right time.
The Right Offers
What can prompt consumers to make purchases even in these uncertain times? There’s some variation between what might prompt online vs. in-store purchases, but there is one commonality: digital coupons.
When asked whether mobile or digital coupons from their favorite retailers would encourage them to purchase from online stores other than Amazon, 75 percent of respondents said yes. Free shipping on returns was another big motivator for this group, with 70 percent saying this would encourage them to buy from retailers other than Amazon when shopping online.
Interestingly, while 47 percent of respondents said that now that their favorite stores had reopened, they were not planning to shop there, 61 percent of respondents said that a “high-value mobile or digital coupon for in-store use” would get them to change their mind and make a visit to a physical location.
Other research supports these findings. According to Big Commerce, “63 percent of shoppers say they want coupons to be more available” and “emails with coupons have a 48 percent increase in revenue per email.”
Your CRM can give you insights into which customers have responded to high-value discounts in the past; it can also help you identify customers for special offers based on their past purchases. These discount offers can furthermore be used to help you reach out to customers who may not have been active for some time. Given a generous offer, the lapsed customer can be reactivated.
The Right Way
While traditional print coupons still exist, they’re far from ideal, according to CodeBroker research. In fact, when asked whether consumers prefer mobile or paper coupons, 77 percent said they preferred mobile coupons. That’s a trend that has been on the rise; in 2018, 47 percent of consumers indicated a preference for digital; in 2019, that figure jumped to 67 percent.
Consumers are embracing mobile for the entire “coupon” experience—access, storage, and redemption. Mobile coupons represent benefits not just for consumers but for retailers as well. Retailers can leverage mobile/digital coupons to collect data and track usage—and use that data for future targeting and to reassess balance in the marketing mix. In fact, it’s been long known that coupons increase sales even after the promotional period is over.
According to Binghamton University, “Mobile coupons can affect both short- and long-term sales goals” and boost revenue. “People check their phones constantly, and messages containing mobile coupons are hard to ignore,” said Binghamton professor Chang Hee Park.
Your CRM system can help you determine customer preferences based on past coupon use so you can effectively target customers with relevant, and valued, promotions.
The Right Time
As marketing tools, one of the benefits of using mobile/digital coupons is that they can be scheduled to be delivered to consumers at specific times, or in specific places. Mobile couponing allows retail marketers to reach consumers when they’re on the go. In-store offers can prompt impulse buys.
Coupon offers also can be supported in-store through product placement and signage. The repetition and reinforcement of coupon offers through in-store channels can be powerful drivers of shopper behavior.
Your CRM system can give insight into what time of day, day of week, or seasons of the year shoppers are most likely to redeem in-store coupons; other in-store communication messaging can be coordinated to support coupon offers.
There is a wealth of information available to retailers in their CRM systems. Research suggests ways in which that information can be best leveraged to take advantage of consumer shopping preferences, even during the pandemic. Connecting with consumers with the right offers in the right way at the right time can boost your bottom line and drive consumer satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty.