Successful marketing campaigns are key for businesses looking to build and promote themselves. Vouchers and coupons aren’t a new trend in the business world, however, with many industries transitioning into the digital world, digital vouchers and discount codes have become increasingly popular – with sites such as Groupon developing into huge web businesses.
Most e-commerce sites now ask you whether you have a discount code when you reach the checkout stage – this encourages even those consumers who don’t already have a code, to look on other sites for something that will get them some discount. Whether it’s student discount, exclusive birthday discount codes or promotional codes, many of us will admit to using discount codes at some point in our online (and offline) shopping experiences.
In this modern era of Groupon deals and extreme couponing, we ask – what do these bargains really mean for businesses and consumers?
Voucher codes – Why do companies use them in the first place?
Many companies use discount codes often in order to attract customers to buy their goods and stand out from their competitors in a crowded market – usually through the use of a time sensitive code.
For competitive businesses, vouchers and discount codes can be a sound strategy. Companies often find that by offering just 10% off, they can encourage sales with their business over their competitors. Studies have shown that retailers with an active discount code are eight times more likely to gain a sale and in 2016, 17% of total sales were made up of transactions that used a discount code.
Voucher codes help with a variety of challenges in the e-commerce world, from customer acquisition to retention – and this is especially notable with social media discount campaigns. Voucher codes have also been proven to grow brand awareness for companies, as they encourage customers to follow the business via social media in order to gain more discounts and benefits.
Whilst many industries have been successful as a direct result of e-commerce, voucher codes are not just found in your email inbox or online. Businesses also use voucher codes as a reward for existing customers, which encourages them to return and use that company again in future. For retail businesses, such as Missguided, Boohoo and ASOS, voucher leaflets are often delivered along with their parcels to customers. These encourage customers to make future purchases, which boosts customer retention.
Many companies manage their own voucher codes and give them out whenever and wherever they see fit. However, sites such as Groupon and other voucher code websites have become one-stop shops for consumers looking for the best deals. In the last quarter of 2017, Groupon was shown to have over 48.3 million unique customers visiting the site. It is evident that discount codes have become a must-have for customers when they shop.
Do vouchers really save customers money?
Whilst it is evident that consumers are relying on coupons and discount codes to save money on their shop, some have questioned how much they are really saving, and whether these methods are just tools for marketing.
Which? Investigated this and found that a number of the codes available on sites such as Retailmenot.com and Groupon were actually out of date or not valid at all. Mark Pearson, owner of myvouchers.co.uk, said:
The majority of our listings are official codes direct from retailers, but we see it as our job to list any code that has a chance of working so, if a code comes from a consumer, we'll check it works and then list it as 'user-generated', making clear we can't guarantee how long it will work.
A large number of e-commerce sites that do offer working codes only offer these for a limited time, encouraging consumers to act straight away and buy now. Most codes are not very long lasting. This is particularly evident with fashion websites, who regularly send emails to customers with a working discount code to boost customer retention and encourage purchases. 10% and 15% discount codes are the most common, as brands can afford to allow customers to make a small saving if it encourages further sales and means that they gain an edge over their competition.
Takeaway companies often use direct mail to encourage people in the local area to order from their restaurant, rather than from other competitors in the area - from leaflet distribution to emails and text messages. For example, chain takeaways like Domino’s are well known for including discount codes with their food. Deals such as ‘Two for Tuesday’s’ and ‘buy one get one free’ are always guaranteed to help customers save a bit of money. Once again though, takeaway discount codes are usually offered for a limited time only.
Would this benefit small merchants?
For start-up businesses and SME’s, it can seem daunting to give out discounts, as owners consider whether the initial loss would be worth it if they are trying to make a profit.
Discount codes are useful as ‘introductory offers’ as they can encourage people to place their first order, sign up to your newsletter or recommend you to friends. The big decision lies in how much discount to give and when to activate the code. If used carelessly, it could potentially result in profit loss for your company. If used in the right way, however, it can boost customer loyalty, increase conversion rates and help with customer acquisition.