VoucherCodes: Multi-Channel Partnerships Help UK Retailers Offer Savings to Customers However They Choose to Shop
Posted: 8.18.17 Entrepreneurial Success

VoucherCodes: Multi-Channel Partnerships Help UK Retailers Offer Savings to Customers However They Choose to Shop

By: Jon McDonald

The Crunch: As the savings destination of more than 8.4 million users in the United Kingdom, VoucherCodes is a valuable partner for more than 5,500 retailers. The site provides codes, restaurant discounts, and printable coupons that help consumers save money no matter where they choose to shop — at home, on a mobile device, or in-store. VoucherCodes has also evolved into a robust engagement solution for UK retailers with features that include targeting shoppers with location-based sales. By working directly with its retail partners, VoucherCodes effectively removes barriers between online and in-store shopping to provide a consistent customer experience across channels.

The retail industry is in a state of constant change, but one thing has always held true: consumers want the best deals they can find on the products and services they want and need. As a result, the objective for businesses has always been simply to reach potential customers with the right deal at the right time.

Only these days it’s not that simple, especially for traditional brick-and-mortar retailers who find themselves competing with low-overhead, online-only businesses — and with each other. Today’s connected consumers respond to marketing messages and spend money not only in stores but at home, and while they’re out and about. Traditional retailers have struggled with the challenges of moving online while increasing their responsiveness in the physical space.

Meanwhile, businesses face the challenge of communicating effectively with consumers who have enough computing power in their pockets and purses to instantly comparison shop on a global scale.

Photo of Paul Lewis, Senior Director of Marketing at VoucherCodes

Paul Lewis, Senior Director of Marketing at VoucherCodes, spoke with us about coupon trends.

That reality is as evident in the United Kingdom as it is in the United States, and VoucherCodes — the leading UK savings destination and discounting partner — has positioned itself as a solution for more than 5,500 UK retailers who face these challenges. The site has evolved beyond its original incarnation as a general-purpose discounting and couponing clearinghouse and is now building relationships with major retailers who are looking to drive foot traffic into their stores to make sales.

Those partnerships are successful because consumers still want to shop — in a manner of speaking at least. “They’re touching and feeling clothes and trying things on that they know they’ll like,” said Paul Lewis, Senior Director of Marketing at VoucherCodes. “And then they’re checking online to see if the best price is in front of them.”

Physical retailers want to convert those in-store “showroomers” into paying customers, and that’s where VoucherCodes comes in. Retailers know that more than 5 million UK consumers use the location-based technologies built into the company’s mobile app to verify that the purchases they make in-store is money well spent.

Founded During the 2008 Recession to Help UK Consumers Save

The site was founded in 2008 during the global recession, a time when money-saving retail offers attracted lot of UK customers, Paul said. VoucherCodes has also demonstrated the viability of the discount clearinghouse business model

VoucherCodes links coupon offerings for consumers to valuable discounting partnerships for retailers, benefitting both. The site quickly grew because it filled a market gap for consumers who were primed by the recession to use online tools to search for savings in the marketplace.

Screenshot of VoucherCodes homepage

VoucherCodes launched in 2008 amid a global financial crisis with the goal of helping consumers save money.

A dedicated team works to ensure that all content is kept up to date on the VoucherCodes website so users can search for retailers or brands to reveal current codes.

The website’s most popular deals are featured in a continually updated section devoted to the top 20 coupon codes. Another page — dedicated to fashion vouchers — targets a key shopper demographic, while restaurant offers and High Street (general business) codes are searchable by location.

Acquisition by RetailMeNot Encourages Coupon Innovation

VoucherCodes’ 2011 acquisition by RetailMeNot made the UK firm part of the largest digital coupon marketplace in the world. RetailMeNot — based in Austin, Texas — owns the leading American savings site RetailMeNot.com along with VoucherCodes and other North American and European properties.

“The acquisition gave us the freedom and the investment to continue to grow the voucher and savings market in the UK,” Paul said, “which is helping our customers save money and driving revenue for our retail partners.”

The retail brands in the combined portfolio have had over 650 million site visits in the past 12 months, and, all together, RetailMeNot properties facilitated over $4.4 billion in global retail sales in 2016.

Screenshot of RetailMeNot global footprint

RetailMeNot owns many global deals brands, including VoucherCodes in the United Kingdom.

Working with RetailMeNot also provided the resources needed to build more innovation into the products VoucherCodes offers, including personalization features that work to better engage consumers.

“Customers see relevant, timely offers,” Paul said. “We’re not just sending out lists of codes that we know they’re not going to interact with. It’s really about being a trustworthy brand.”

The company now has a customer database of 8.4 million users, and the intense focus on personalization distinguishes VoucherCodes from other discounting brands.

“They’re all engaged customers who are opening up our emails and using the money-saving offers we send them,” said Paul.

Mobile-First Strategy Means Portable Deals & More Partnerships

As the coupon industry was coalescing in North America and Europe in the wake of the 2007-08 recession, the more ubiquitous presence of in-store offers in the US differentiated the American market from the UK market. Paul explained that the UK market was behind the curve in that way.

The RetailMeNot acquisition brought the market insight and investment necessary for VoucherCodes to build out a mobile-first strategy and offer UK consumers as many ways to locate and take advantage of discounts as possible. Mobile-first is now the company’s chief marketing strategy for its customer base as well as expanding its roster of retail partners.

Screenshots of the VoucherCodes mobile app

The VoucherCodes mobile app is evidence of the company’s dedication to a mobile-first consumer engagement strategy.

That innovation comes at a time when 58% of consumers have mobile interactions with brands — with that percentage expected to increase — and when brick-and-mortar shops are often regarded as showrooms rather than points of purchase. With its mobile-first strategy, VoucherCodes has developed its mobile app as “just another way to save on a shopping journey,” Paul said.

That approach has also enabled VoucherCodes to offer UK retailers more targeting capabilities than ever before. The company is evolving from offering strictly online codes and printable restaurant vouchers to providing truly omnichannel marketing partnerships.

Geofencing Engages On-The-Go Customers & Drives In-Store Traffic

In recognizing the realities of the consumer marketplace of today — and tomorrow — VoucherCodes’ mobile-first strategy makes the in-store shopping experience more engaging for consumers.

It also uses the latest geofencing technology to drive foot traffic in stores for the company’s retail partners by targeting specific marketing messages to customers who are entering and leaving designated commercial areas.

“It’s a huge opportunity for all of those brick and mortar retailers to drive that in-store footfall and to motivate engaged customers to spend money at the tills.” — Paul Lewis, Senior Director of Marketing at VoucherCodes.

“VoucherCodes was first to market in the UK with the ability to use geofencing to target customers on High Street accurately,” Paul said. The technology is interacting with more than 5 million UK consumers who have downloaded the VoucherCodes mobile app.

“It’s a huge opportunity for all of those brick and mortar retailers to drive that in-store footfall and to motivate engaged customers to spend money at the tills,” Paul said.

VoucherCodes backs up those targeted messages with digital campaigns offered through the web and its email database. All in all, this means that retail partners have many more touchpoints to engage with VoucherCodes’ customer base of shoppers.

VoucherCodes Bridges the Technological Gap to Spur Retail Growth

As consumers turn to digital channels to search for savings, VoucherCodes is harnessing technology and mobile strategies to help its retail partners reach those potential customers — and bring them into stores. But VoucherCodes hasn’t stopped innovating. The company finds itself positioned to offer additional efficiencies to brick-and-mortar retailers and brands that are struggling to overcome the burdens of legacy technologies.

“There are a lot of antiquated POS systems out there,” said Paul. “It’s a challenge for those big merchants to really change the infrastructure that they’ve got set in place.”

VoucherCodes brings a startup mentality to tackling that problem, promoting support for mobile payments with its retailers, for example. “It’s about convenience, it’s about ease of use,” Paul said. “So, there’s a huge opportunity for the retailers we’re working with.”

The company also supports retailers such as PizzaExpress that build voucher codes directly into their POS systems. “You don’t need to print out a PizzaExpress two-for-one anymore,” Paul said. “Retailers like PizzaExpress offer codes and have that built into their system.”

What links all of this innovation is the commitment to help consumers save money and give brands more ways to reach them. VoucherCodes has evolved through acquisition, personalization, and the explosion of mobile and location-based technology while remaining faithful to the rationale that has always driven the sale: reaching the right customer with the right deal at the right time.