“Best coupon ever!”
That’s what the smiling woman one register over said to me a few weeks ago as I was checking out. Like her, I was at a local Bed Bath & Beyond, the big box retailer, late on a Saturday morning. It was my last stop of the day, and I only had a few purchases in mind when I walked in.
That was the plan, anyway, and you know about how the road to Hell is paved. Forty minutes later, my cart was half-filled with a new iron, some grill tools, picture frames, a Scrub Daddy, and a few other newly-essential items. Lucky for me I was holding a fistful of store coupons.
You know the ones I mean. Most of them are for 20% off a single item, others are for $5 off and come on a flyer. There are some showing bacon-and-eggs in a frying pan forming a smiley face – those are good for 20% off an entire purchase. They even have coupons that offer 20% off for a limited time, after which the discount drops to 10% off.
Regardless of the amount, they’re designed with one purpose in mind – to get you in that door.
And sure enough, it still works. Most of the people I saw in line waiting to get rung up had the coupons also. It’s an everyday example of why simple direct mail can still work so well at driving customers to the store, and getting them to buy something, or quite a few somethings.
The coupon has become such a staple of their marketing that it’s been adapted for their email as well. Quite a few people at my store had both the physical coupon and the digital one on their smartphone ready to go as well.
It may that people have become so conditioned to expecting their arrival, in one channel or another, that they won’t make a purchase there without them. Ron Johnson eliminated coupons at J.C. Penney and we know how well that worked out.
I was curious. I checked my Who’s Mailing What! files to see if there was any BB&B mail that didn’t include a coupon. Nope.
How long this strategy can continue is a good question with no easy answers. If you give away too much margin with the discounts, how much will sales decline by scaling them back? Will customers who expect discounts keep coming in without them?
Maybe Bed Bath & Beyond should look at incorporating other ways of making the shopping experience meaningful to the customer. Think of how to be relevant in their lives, like delivering high-value content, and providing service above and beyond what other retailers do. From there, the coupons can be pulled back, but the loyalty will remain. In the meantime, I have some shopping to do this weekend.
Let’s talk about those coupons! Do they still make sense to mail? Do you use them?