Monthly Archives: September 2011

How Vouchers Are Being Used

A few weeks ago we launched Vouchers on the platform. As you may remember these are trackable codes with value or messages attached and can be used in a self-service mode by customers or instore by businesses.

When we released these we saw uses for them that included tracking advertising performance and managing promotions. Now that they have been available for some time we have had a chance to see how they are being used in practice and I thought it would be interesting to let you know what other businesses are doing. And I also want to tell you about an upgrade based on feedback we have received.

How Are People Using Vouchers?
Vouchers can be configured so that they are applied to Reward Cards either by the issuing business or by the customer themselves. To date the only vouchers we have seen used have been redeemed by businesses in store, primarily for two specific purposes; 

Promotional Advertising
Each voucher code generated by the platform can be configured to have thousands of individual redemptions while at the same time limiting each individual use. Each voucher can also have start and end dates and value or a message attached. The most common use we have seen is for businesses to use these features to manage and track their promotions and advertising. The best way to explain this is to take an example;
Company A runs promotions on a regular basis. These take the form of “3 for the price of 1” or “50% off selected items” and are intended to increase awareness of the business while also generating interest in excess inventory. They typically advertise these in 3 papers but up to now the owner has not been able to get a clear picture of which of the papers produce the best response, whether the same customers are the ones to take up the offers, if they attract new customers, the long-term effect of the promotions or which promotions work best with each demographic. They have some anecdotal information but collecting and analysing the hard data has been too unwieldy. They now gather all this information automatically using vouchers. 

They generate 3 vouchers for each promotion; one for each newspaper. These vouchers can have 10,000 individual uses but can only be used once by any individual. The ads in the papers each contain the voucher code and the ad must be brought to the shop in order for a customer to avail of the offer.
Once a customer comes in with the voucher both it and the customers card number are scanned and this confirms that the same customer has not used the voucher previously. At the same time it allows the business to build a picture of their promotions effectiveness. Immediately they can see which channel produced the best results but over time they also get a greater picture of which promotions appeal to which customers, if they see the promotions in just one paper, how often individual customers respond to a promotional offer, if a promotions leads to later sales and more.
This information of course helps them plan better and reduce their costs since they now have a picture they never had before and can send promotions direct to customers.

Forgery-Free Gift Cards
If you are like the majority of businesses in Ireland you provide Gift Cards as paper which you might stamp or sign. However these are extremely susceptible to fraud since the signature or stamp is easily forged and the paper token itself is quickly photocopied. What a number of businesses are doing is generating a unique code which is printed on every voucher and then, when the customer comes in, they enter the voucher number alongside the Reward Card number. This confirms that the code on the voucher has never been used before and, since there are a potential 150 trillion possibilities, the chances of someone guessing a valid one to print on a forgery is practically non-existent. Vouchers therefore act as a security measure but they also provide information on who purchases the vouchers, when they do so, what they buy in return and a lot more. They also increase the number of customers using the Reward Card and this in turn leads to repeat business.

These are the two most common uses of vouchers and it reinforces for me how flexible the system we have put in place is. However there is one major request for us to make and today we are implementing it.

Todays Upgrade
We originally designed the voucher system so that the voucher can only be used in conjunction with a registered Reward Card. This arose because we included the ability to set a limit on how many times a single customer could use the voucher and we designed it so we meant customer and not card. In other words a customer could not obtain a  second or third card to reuse a voucher.  This worked as designed but has caused difficulties for some businesses. Basically they would run an ad in a newspaper or put a voucher in a voucher book but if a new customer took advantage of this they would need to be registered in the store. You can imagine for popular promotions this would be an issue

So today we have just updated the platform so that voucher can be used with unregistered cards. This means that in the above scenario the customer can come in with the voucher and this can be used alongside a new card which they can then take home to register at their leisure. This is an optional setting and you can choose to remain with the customer limits if you wish and this decision can be made ona  voucher-by-voucher basis. If you do decide to allow unregistered cards then the customer limits will apply to the card and not to the customer. This can have some implications if you are running a promotional campaign, but it does not affect vouchers which can only be used once in total (Gift Vouchers being a good example).

Vouchers are working as well as we had hoped when we first introduced them and it is interesting for us to understand how they are being used but also to know what issues you are seeing. For this reason we will keep a manual order system for the moment. If you want to order some vouchers please use the order form online or drop me an email. These are a powerful tool (both for security and for collecting data which can save you money) and I want to make sure we help you use them to their maximum effect.