In early 2020 the entire world was impacted by a deadly virus never before seen and still not completely understood. Covid-19 resulted in the shuttering of retail stores everywhere; many continue to remain closed in the U.S. and some have gone out of business entirely.

What impact will the pandemic have on consumer shopping habits in the near- and long-term?

That’s a question that was explored in CodeBroker’s recently released report “Consumer Shopping Habits During the Covid Pandemic.” Based on input from more than 1,400 U.S. shoppers, the survey offers some interesting perspectives on how consumers have shifted their buying habits during the pandemic and what might prompt them to feel comfortable returning to their favorite brick and mortar retailers.

A Digital/Real World Mashup

While many consumers were already shopping online before the pandemic, those numbers have grown exponentially once in-person shopping was put on hold and personal safety concerns became top of mind even after some restrictions were lifted. Interestingly, though, today’s consumers are not viewing digital versus in-store shopping as an either/or proposition. They do both. In fact, the two environments can serve to benefit each other.

While 87% of survey respondents indicated how their online shopping increased either moderately or significantly since the pandemic, 53% of them admitted that with the reopening of their favorite stores they plan to shop at physical locations.

As Deborah Goldring, associate professor of marketing at Stetson University, said in an article for DestinationCRM, digital marketing tactics can enhance the in-store experience. This, she says, might include “text messages, push notifications, emails, or QR codes, as well as easy instructions about where to park, where to drive through, or where to pick up in the store.”

There’s another element of digital marketing tactics and messages that can have an even greater impact: mobile coupons. Surveys have shown repeatedly that with the right couponing strategy, retailers stand to benefit by driving in-store visits and boosting revenue. As retailers from every industry know, the trick is getting the foot in the door; coupons are a tool to accomplish just that.

Driving Traffic via High-Value Offers

Consumers appreciate and hunt for bargains, especially when a good deal is offered by one of their favorite store destinations. Even those consumers who say they were not planning to shop in-store invariably end up changing their minds when prompted by a powerful offer: high-value mobile/digital coupons.

Well over half (61%) of survey respondents claimed that a high-value mobile coupon would motivate them to visit a physical store location. This is an opportunity for retailers to leverage their CRM systems to send personalized coupons and offers to customers based on their shopping history. It’s also an opportunity to drive traffic among new customers by offering attractive discount offers.

Would you return to in-store shopping if offered a high-value mobile digital coupon? | Source: CodeBroker

Retailers, of course, don’t want to risk driving down their revenue by offering coupons indiscriminately, or not taking steps to ensure that coupons are used by those intended to use them and certainly not redeemed more than once. A successful couponing strategy ensures that neither of these mishaps can occur. Many smart retailers employ a single-use coupon model to ensure that:

  • The customer always receives the same barcode regardless of the number of times, or channels in which, they request the coupon;
  • Once the coupon is used, it expires simultaneously across all marketing distribution channels (i.e., mobile, web, app, social);
  • It is impossible for a customer to obtain a second copy of a coupon unless permitted exclusively by the retailer.

Digital Demand on the Rise

Another important factor in your couponing strategy is how the coupon is delivered—in hard copy or digital format. Consumers significantly prefer the latter. When asked: “When you receive a coupon for use in physical stores, do you prefer mobile or paper coupons?” an overwhelming 77% said they preferred mobile coupons. That’s a number that has risen steadily over the past two years. 47% of consumers had indicated their preference for mobile coupons in 2018. A year later that number jumped to 67% who prefer receiving and redeeming mobile coupons.

Consumers are embracing mobile for the entire “coupon” experience: access, storage and redemption. Mobile coupons not only give consumers more of what they want, but they present marketers with new and improved possibilities for collecting data, tracking usage, and using that insight for ongoing targeting.

As retailers work to build trust and boost in-store traffic as virus restrictions are eased, a sound digital couponing strategy can help drive customers back into stores. It’s the perfect bridge between digital and physical worlds.