Coupons Change Buyer Behavior @Staples

Coupons have been around for ages and wanted to share my thoughts on how it changed my buying behavior in 24 hours! Recently I returned from Affiliate Summit and now have a large stack of business cards on my desk. The fact that the business card pile is here is good but the fact that they are in the pile is bad. As a believer in scanning technology I felt it was time to get a new card scanner and pulled up the Staples web site.  As an affiliate marketer with heavy coupon experience, I have been trained by the industry to never pay retail for office products from merchants like Staples and Office Depot. I wanted to preface that I used to be a Staples affiliate at one time and currently not affiliated in any way (long story..)

Buyer Behavior & The Coupon Process
Upon reaching the Staples site I did what most people do and pulled up the web site to look for card scanners. In my mind I am hoping that a popular card scanner is on sale, reviews look good and a COUPON EXISTS ….

Staples Product Page
The card scanner product page is standard and really doesn’t incent me to buy the product today. Of course I see the Fast and FREE DELIVERY message which is very generous, however any regular Staples customer would never expect to pay for shipping since this promo is running 24/7. Side Note to Staples, I have been trained by your marketing team to buy the heavy 20 pound box of paper online just so I don’t have to carry it to the car (seems like a waste of profits and UPS)

What to Do Now?
Hmm… the scanner is not on sale and what’s my next step?

  • Scan my inbox for Staples emails (i save the ones with coupon codes and the fact that I am a business customer is key)
  • If no coupons exist, I turn to Google Search (before i do this I know Staples Marketing is tight on this policy so not expecting much)
  • Free tip to merchants is to pay for the PPC term “Your Name + Coupons” see paid ad #1
  • Something catches my eye – a paid #2 spot obviously not Staples and pushing a $25 off $75 (I call your bluff so click it)

Meet the Staples (and other merchants) coupon resale market!
After clicking the paid link I arrive at a marketers site (soon to be approached by Staples legal..) who is attempting to sell me a Staples coupon code. I have seen these services before and must run havoc within the marketing teams at Staples. What was interesting is the monetary value of a coupon and how this person is selling a $25 coupon for $3.99. So I pass on this approach!

RetailMeNot (the last attempt)
Retailmenot is a popular online coupon code site where users can submit coupons. However, Staples Marketing is one step of me and has requested that RetailmeNot turn that feature off so what next? Tip – It you are an ecommerce merchant and want to request this you can but remember that changes buyer behaviors.

Purchase is not going to happen at Staples or Instore
Without a coupon code I see no value in shopping at Staples as apparently I have been trained that at Retail I am paying to much! I really didn’t have time to explore other online merchants so dropped the search all together. No coupon changed my buying behavior!

So a Day Went by and What Happenned?
Staples sends me emails regularly but coupon ones only happen once a month and bingo a deal arrives today for 15%.

My experience with Staples has trained me not to purchase anything from Staples unless I use a coupon code and not a great long term plan for Staples. My advice to ecommerce retailers is to vary your promotions and keep your customers inquiring on ways to save. When you leave a Free Shipping message on the web site permantely it’s great for the one time shopper but doesn’t convert regular customers as it should. Staples was able to connect with me via email and save the day (haven’t bought it yet but will visit the store today). I encourage all merchants to understand that when you always have the same coupon or promotion it dilutes the reason to purchase today. Try limiting your coupons, segment your marketing messages and utilize email vs. relying on the web site to convert.

If you liked this post please subscribe to the Vastplanet Blog via EmailRSSTwitter @michaelvorelTwitter @vastplanet and encourage you to leave comments, additional tips and personal experiences below.