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Retailers need to update their technology to keep up with consumer coupon cravings

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For consumers, the appeal of coupons shows no signs of diminishing, with research from Valassis showing that UK shoppers alone save £3.3 billion annually using coupons and vouchers. But it is smartphone based digital coupons that are stealing the limelight.

According to Valassis’ research, there is a real appetite among shoppers for digital coupons – one-third of shoppers prefer digital coupons over paper coupons. Mobile coupons also provide more scope for creative, personalised offers. Retailers can really zero in on high-spending shoppers and entice them to buy products not on their usual shopping list.

However, and it’s a big “however,” this potential has yet to be tapped by many retailers, particularly in grocery. In fact, retailers’ technologies have fallen far behind the capabilities of everyday consumer smartphones, leaving many businesses scrambling to catch up. There are a variety of reasons for this. The big one is cost. Buying and rolling out new point-of-sale technology that can handle mobile payments, including coupons, can be daunting. Retailers are understandably cautious about investing in kit that may quickly become obsolete, and there is a large graveyard of start-ups because consumers have not adopted the latest, greatest technologies as predicted.

“Promotional marketing is a crucial element to most shopping today, with few brands able to ignore this,” says Penny Dryden, from Valassis. “Within the digital realm, mobile coupons are the ultimate in shopper convenience, being easily accessible via a smartphone and available when and where they are needed. It’s this instant access that reduces the risk of losing or forgetting coupons. According to a study by Forrester Research, 79% of shoppers say they wouldn’t buy an item if they forgot to bring the corresponding coupon to the store with them.”

She continues: “As the UK’s largest coupon and voucher services provider, we have been discussing electronic and mobile redemption of coupons with consumers, supermarkets and brands for the last decade, and it is clear that robust redemption solutions in the grocery environment have a way to go.”

According to Dryden, mobile coupons should remain a key consideration for retailers for the simple reason that shopper interest is high. “Facilitated by technology, today’s consumers are driving real changes in retail,” she says. “With instant access to coupons, special offers, product details, reviews and recommendations online, the consumer is in control and many retailers need to catch up with the consumer’s expected retail experience.”

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