The world around us is a digital one. Over the course of the past couple of decades, aided by the sustained development of the internet and an explosive rise in the use of mobile devices, the pace of innovation and development around digital technologies have been swift and unrelenting. For retailers, the digitization of the shopping environment has provided a plethora of touchpoints at which consumers can be engaged, empowering their marketing and merchandising teams in their collective efforts to increase traffic and convert more sales. Complex promotions and digital coupons have proven to be a powerful tool to support this conversion while adding value to the shopping experience and driving customer loyalty.
The Rise of Digital Coupons
It’s been estimated by U.K.-based Juniper Research, which specializes in identifying and appraising high growth market sectors within the digital ecosystem, that the worldwide value of digital coupon redemptions will surpass US$90 billion by the end of 2022. It adds that mobile devices will be at the heart of this activity, being leveraged to complete 80 percent of all online coupon redemptions. In addition, research conducted by eMarketer suggests that 87.6 percent of shoppers who receive coupons or deals are likely to download a retailer’s app. These statistics speak to the very obvious and continued popularity and use of coupons among shoppers. According to Dan Surtees, Vice President of Strategy & Business Development at XCCommerce, they are also indicative of the opportunities available to retailers with respect to the leveraging of digital channels to support promotional efforts.
“Coupon use is extensive in North America and has been for decades,” he says. “Consumers have always been open to receiving deals on product, and that interest is only increasing. What the digitization of the shopping environment and retail operation provides, however, is a powerful platform to target promotions and meet that growing desire among consumers for personalization and communication that’s relevant to them. By leveraging the capabilities of digital coupons, retailers can build their promotional campaigns, and combine them with their 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 a number of different types of coupons, including generic, single-use, multi-use, coupons restricted to a single customer, coupons with dollar value and custom encoding and randomization methods. Ultimately, the digital world is providing retailers with incredible opportunities to meaningfully engage their customers, drive traffic to their stores and website, increase basket size and heighten product demand on specific items. It’s allowing retailers to make more informed decisions, increasing the effectiveness of their marketing and merchandising efforts as an organization.”
A Strategic Advantage
The digital world is aiding retailers’ promotional efforts to such an extent, says Surtees, that those able to effectively execute complex promotions are realizing a significant strategic advantage over those that cannot. The ease of deploying promotions through digital channels, in addition to the multiple ways by which digital allows retailers to use coupons, are helping to remove many of the traditional limitations that once existed. With new digital capabilities, retailers can offer promotions that facilitate and support any different promotion rules or combination of rules, including simple discount offers, BOGOs, 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, among others. As a result, explains Surtees, the opportunity for retailers to cater to and influence shopping behaviour while enhancing the omnichannel experience that they offer is immense.
“It’s obviously extremely important for retailers to attract the attention of consumers,” he says. “But, it’s critical, and the aim of every retailer, to consistently bring those customers back to their store and website and to generate a level of loyalty that ensures continued success. One of the keys to achieving this goal today is in creating promotions that enhance the overall retail omnichannel experience and to provide a stickiness that keeps people coming back. Because digital technologies enable retailers to create promotions and rewards in real time, the incentives that they can offer customers for their continued business can be incredibly powerful.”
Despite the opportunities that are available for retailers looking to leverage the full potential of complex promotions and digital coupons, and the ways they can help effectively support promotional objectives, there are also challenges involved in implementing them into organizations’ overall strategies and operations. These are challenges that have existed for a number of years now. But, as Surtees explains, these challenges have been exacerbated by the impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic, exposing the need for retailers to address them in order to stay ahead, or keep up, with the digital curve.
“One of the biggest industry impacts that’s resulted from the pandemic is the explosion in consumer activity on multiple sales channels,” he states. “It’s highlighted a lot of the challenges that retailers were already experiencing or were about to experience. Going forward, much of the retail experience will involve a digital component. Consumers are embracing the different channels and ways to interact with brands and will be expecting more from retailers from a digital perspective. Many retailers are offering, in addition to the physical retail space as a means by which to purchase product, a range of other channels to shop, including e-commerce, social commerce, mobile commerce, BOPIS, and curbside pickup. The pandemic has accelerated retailers’ need to enhance their digital efforts, including their promotion strategy. However, what some are finding is that the systems they use don’t integrate easily with their multiple sales applications and solutions, 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.”
Overcoming this system integration challenge can seem like a daunting one for those faced with it. It can become a planning, reorganizing and logistical nightmare at best, and at worst can result in a grotesque technological hodgepodge that serves neither function nor strategy. Thankfully, this is where solutions providers like XCCommerce come in, removing the complexities of the challenge at hand and helping retailers move toward a seamless omnichannel offering and experience for their customers.
Leveraging Experience and Expertise
Providing those operating within the retail industry with automated promotion and coupon management solutions for more than 20 years, XCCommerce has the experience, understanding and platform required to help retailers easily manage their strategic promotional programs and to continue growing within the fast-paced world of retail. Headquartered in Montreal, QC, with offices in Toronto and the United Kingdom, the company works with more than 55 brands, including Indigo, Shoppers Drug Mart, Victoria’s Secret, and L.L. Bean, among many others, servicing more than 13,500 storefronts on 30 different channels. Offering a promotion solution that provides its clients with full control over the management of their promotion and coupon offers, the company is helping retailers drive loyalty among their customers and increase sales. But, as Surtees points out, it’s the agnostic nature of the system that XCCommerce offers that makes it a fit for just about any business.
“The promotion management system, which includes our coupon module, is compatible with any operating system, database and sales application,” he says proudly. “It doesn’t matter how many sales applications a retailer currently uses, the XCCommerce solution can integrate with any and all of them. And, in addition to easily and seamlessly integrating with these systems, our solution also helps to ensure that retailers are future-proofed for any other disruption or challenge. XCCommerce is completely decoupled from all other technologies, providing our clients with the huge benefit and advantage of managing one solution that can be leveraged across their entire enterprise.”
In addition to the functionality and integration capacity of the XCCommerce promotional management solution, it’s also multi-currency, multi-language and multi-banner, allowing retailers to leverage their promotions across global markets. The culmination of the solution means that retailers using XCCommerce’s system allow them to lean on one solution to meet all of their needs. It’s reflective of one of the ways that the company keeps its clients at the centre of everything it does. And, as Surtees also notes, it aligns well with its philosophy and the work it does with clients, providing it with an advantage over and differentiation from its competitors.
“XCCommerce truly understands the needs of the retail industry,” he says firmly. “The reason for this is the fact that we aren’t just a technology company, we’re a retail solutions company. The majority of our team have many years of experience within the retail industry. We’re acutely aware of the value of building a trusted partnership and working together through a long-term engagement. As part of that, we make sure that when we start working with a client that we understand their specific requirements, goals and objectives. What kind of customer experience are they trying to create? Are they looking at global expansion? How do they want their coupons and promotions to look? We’re involved with them throughout the entire process, from implementation and integration to mapping and planning with respect to the development of new trends within the industry. Through a combination of our retail and innovation expertise, we help retailers create and leverage strategic advantage through their promotion and coupon management.”
Continued Product Enhancement and Growth
To help bolster its suite of services, XCCommerce recently introduced a new Promotion Information module designed to complement its existing product by providing time-based promotion information for web and mobile, and is currently in the design phase of a new promotions analytics module which will leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning in order to further inform promotion strategies. According to Surtees, the addition of the new modules will ensure XCCommerce remains the industry leader in innovative promotion solutions, delivering an end-to-end promotion management solution, enabling retailers at the analytics, planning and execution stages of their promotions. And, he says, these latest developments are perfectly in line with the company’s plans for further near-term growth.
“We have an extremely successful track record in North America. And our focus remains on continuing to enhance our product and offering to retailers across the continent. However, we’ve also identified a number of retailers globally that could benefit from our expertise, so we have expanded into Europe. In addition, we have broadened our scope to offer promotions-as-a-service in the cloud, so we can run the products we offer and manage the environment so the retailer doesn’t need to build out that expertise internally. We possess that expertise and a fundamental understanding of the needs of our retail clients. Through continued product enhancement and the holistic nature of the services that we provide, we can remove their most pressing pain-points, delivering cutting edge tools to position them for future growth and success.”
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