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How to sell to the post-Covid consumer

Digital promotions are becoming ever more complex as the number of channels and devices explode, which represents a great opportunity for companies with the tools to manage them, says Robin Coles, EMEA MD, XCCommerce.
Engaging with and selling to consu…

Digital promotions are becoming ever more complex as the number of channels and devices explode, which represents a great opportunity for companies with the tools to manage them, says Robin Coles, EMEA MD, XCCommerce. Engaging with and selling to consumers online during 2021 and to be truthful for the last few years, has been increasingly challenging, for the simple reason that those consumers are viewing the world through a growing set of channels. In addition to a retailer's owned channels (website, apps, email, text) they must now add Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, text and TikTok - all of which are either already fully commercialised or on their owner's commerce roadmap.

As a result, this growing digitisation of the shopping environment has provided a plethora of touchpoints through which consumers should be engaged, requiring marketing and merchandising teams to work collectively to increase traffic and convert more sales. Add to this complexity the fact that, since the pandemic and the increased shift to online, retailers have had to offer promote, transact, redeem and fulfil in traditional as well as new ways including social commerce, mobile commerce, self-scanning, BOPIS, and curb side pickup. Increasingly today's transactions are dominated by digital coupons, necessary to meet the growing desire among consumers for personalisation and targeted communication.

Figures bear this out; Juniper Research estimates that the worldwide value of digital coupon redemptions will surpass GBP70 billion by the end of 2022. It adds that mobile devices will be at the heart of this activity, being leveraged to complete 80% of all online coupon redemptions. In addition, research conducted by eMarketer suggests that 87.6% of shoppers who receive coupons or deals are likely to download a retailer's app.

By leveraging the capabilities of digital coupons, retailers can build their promotional campaigns, and combine them with existing loyalty programs, to better understand which customers to target and the deals and products that will interest them most. In addition, the digital environment also allows retailers to deploy several different types of coupons, including generic, single-use, multi-use, coupons restricted to a single customer, coupons with monetary value and custom encoding and randomisation methods. However, the key to success is consistency.

The brand, offer, price, language, redemption mechanism must not be fragmented across each of these channels. If they are, it's likely that will lose the customer very quickly, particularly if the workload in piecing things together rests on them alone. There are also challenges involved in implementing cross channel promotions into organisations' overall strategies and operations.

Retailers are finding that these don't integrate easily with their multiple sales applications, making it next to impossible to properly leverage the full capabilities of complex promotion strategies, including digital coupons. That's where the real challenge lies for retailers as they try to offer promotions that facilitate and support many different combinations of promotions, including simple discount offers, BOGOFs, bundle deals, buy more save more, transaction discounts, order discounts, tiered order discounts, discounts based on tender type, and loyalty base points, bonus and multiplier points. A modern promotion management system must be able to keep pace with the way consumers now shop.

However, even today promotions are generally planned with an inward rather than an outward focus. They consider stock levels and planned sell through rates, but they miss a key element - they are not built around customer insight. Retailers are simply missing a trick.

Ideally, a modern approach should enable promotions to be data driven built around rule sets that include customer and loyalty, product and basket, coupon and voucher upsell and cross sell criteria, leading to the appropriate reward. This approach will enable the promotions to operate effectively across any channel, segment, retail tier or geography. Taking that approach, especially where the solution is compatible with any operating system, database and sales application, will mean that the retailer is essentially future-proofed in advance of the next disruption or major challenge.

The solution must also support multiple currencies, languages and banners, allowing retailers to leverage their promotions across global markets. And while we are talking about a tool, an ideal provider should be prepared to work with the retailer to help them build the right kinds of promotions, exploring the kind of customer experience they are trying to create, examining the need for global expansion, and not forgetting the branding experience that coupons and promotions deliver. Lastly, implementing a continual flow of promotions naturally involves many departments, with multiple stakeholders, numerous steps and approval, so workflow should be a natural part of the solution.

With all that in place, the business will find itself in an excellent position to sell to the post-Covid consumer.

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