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The Digital Renaissance

Give Them a Discount: Coupons and Promotions to Boost eCommerce

Who doesn’t love a deal? And it doesn’t matter whether it’s in a store or online. We’re shopping both physically and digitally, after all.

Promos, discounts, coupons – all can be used to draw in greater numbers of customers while building brand loyalty with your previously existing customers through special offers for their loyalty to you.

Think about it: so often a business will provide blanket discounts to anyone and everyone, and even give special discounts to new customers at the expense of shortchanging their already existing base of customers. That’s not fair. You can’t expand your customer base by neglecting the one that already exists.

Fortunately there are ways to tailor coupons and discounts to specific customers through ecommerce platforms like Salesforce B2C Commerce Cloud, which comes built with capabilities for personalization and AI fixed to product recommendations.

According to recent studies, 83% of customers bought at least one product with a coupon or discount within the last half a year. And interestingly, among these people, 62% of them shopped with a business for the first time. That’s to say, most people who bought a product with a coupon or discount were new customers.

Those figures suggest that shoppers are, perhaps more than ever, drawn to brands and products at least in part by money they will save.

“Discounts and coupons can boost sales and brand awareness for ecommerce businesses the same as for brick-and-mortar locations,” said Sarah O’Grady, VP of brand marketing for Vericast.

“While the in-store shopping experience will bring a sense of normalcy to consumers,” she added, “there’s also an incredible opportunity for ecommerce businesses to build on what attracted shoppers to their businesses and incent them to continue shopping online.”

By targeting the increased value that consumers put on savings, “brands can connect more deeply with consumers by addressing their wants and needs with targeted, timely and relevant offers,” she explained.

Guiding them to promos

The competition for consumers is huge as the barrier to entry to set up a business has never been lower. The technology, too, has enabled more and more businesses to compete and reach an ever-growing consumer base who is spending more time online. Ads and discounts are dropped all across the digital landscape from websites to social media platforms.

“Particularly in this kind of accelerated digital environment,” added Nate Burke, CEO of Diginius, “where competition is fierce, discounts and coupons create a strong sense of urgency, encouraging prompt decision making, and the prospect of a completed sale.”

In addition to getting new and existing customers on side, “it promotes and directs users to interjoined mailing lists and newsletters,” added Nate, “so that communication with the customer can be set up moving forward.”

Today commerce is no longer dominated by physical stores. “They’re buying online, they’re placing click-and-collect orders, and they’re having things delivered,” said Ken Platt, MD of ecommerce for Quotient Technology. “Ultimately, I believe that shoppers are going to shop however they want to shop. It’s up to retailers to make that consumer journey as frictionless as possible.

“If ecommerce and omnichannel businesses can enable coupons on their platform the same way that shoppers are used to redeeming coupons in-store, that makes it all the more compelling for consumers to choose their platform the next time they need to purchase something.”

And customers have been branching out into smaller and higher branches, from social media platforms and games consoles, in which new and emerging touchpoints are the new frontiers for business to chart into – if they’ve not already. Salesforce B2C Commerce Cloud has features and extensions (which they call cartridges) to build a presence on anything from Xbox consoles to livesteaming ecommerce events.

Back to coupons, they can be used as a tool in a strategy to convince people to go ahead and click buy. Coupons act as “an effective way to boost listing performance, even providing residual benefits well after the coupon has concluded,” said Katie Capka, marketing manager at Kaspien. 

“Coupons are a sure-fire way to boost the listing conversion rate,” she added, which helps to “recognize the listing as one worth showing higher on the search results page, ultimately helping with sales even after the promotion has ended.”

A loyalty following

Coupons, discounts, and promotions not only target new and existing customers but also strengthens the sense of loyalty, helping to bring back more and more of previous customers.

“Businesses today need to show value to their customers and offers or coupons are one way to do that,” according to Ty Lim, senior VP of marketing for Formation. “Creating engaged, long-term customers with loyalty programs and offers ensures ecommerce businesses are growing their business in a scalable, efficient way. 

“Companies have a 60 to 70% likelihood of selling to an existing customer, compared to just 5 to 20% for new prospects.”

“While on the surface discounts and coupons are ways to market products and engage customers,” said Sean Turner, co-founder of Swiftly, “the real driver is to build loyalty… The lines between ecommerce and in-store purchases have blurred, and with the right technology solution retailers can provide brand funded coupons to shoppers that drive volume without hurting the bottom line. 

“Retailers must find ways to deliver value, and if you’re not offering all the discounts you can, you’re leaving money on the table.”

Technological adaptations

The way that coupons and discounts are used is intertwined with technology and shaped by shopping trends, but as consumers, most of us are pretty much always on the lookout for a good deal.

“When communicated properly, coupons or discounts should feel like a reward,” said Matthew Reevy, SEO manager for Ueni. “From the consumer perspective, I should feel like I am getting an excellent deal on something that has real, tangible value. 

“If I get the feeling that a business is just trying to shift some old stock or that the promotional price on offer isn’t that much different from what I could find anywhere else online, I’m most likely not going to bother with it.”

Despite the old-school nature of coupons – the first is thought to have been made in the late 1800s by Coca Cola, giving away cards for a “free glass of Coca Cola” – they are very much here to stay in whatever form be it physical or digital, for everyone or for specific customers.

“They’ve become something of an expectation now,” added Matthew. “It may well be that with the genie out of the bottle, coupons and discounts become less of a promotional exception and more of a regular cost of doing business for ecommerce companies.”