18 July 2018

by Lisa Smith – Account Manager – AURES UK

Voucher schemes have long been a part of the promotional landscape in retail. Back in the day it was all about cutting coupons out of the newspaper. Now it is about digital codes sent via email, SMS, instant messaging or a dedicated store or brand app.

Whatever the means, a common thread has endured over the years – how to account for the discount when the voucher is redeemed at the point of sale.

This is important for several reasons. First of all, of course, you need to make sure the discount is applied correctly. Then, for ongoing marketing purposes, it is helpful to keep track of how many vouchers have been used and how the customer obtained them, so you can adjust tactics to follow the most successful methods in the future.

With modern digital codes, it is also possible to track who has redeemed each voucher, so you know which of your customers are the most responsive to promotions. Another consideration is processing the code properly so it cannot be used again.

In the old days, all of this had to be done by hand. If you wanted to keep accurate records of which vouchers were redeemed and when, it could add a lot of complexity to the accounting process. Overall, it was rather a scattergun approach. At best, you could include vouchers in a direct mailing campaigns to a subscriber base but targeting beyond that was next to impossible.

Things are very different today, and advanced EPOS systems are at the heart of it. Allowing voucher campaigns to be created with a few clicks, specialised retail EPOS both allows for more sophisticated targeting of promotions and automated redemption.

Intelligence led

Point of sale no longer sits as a stand-alone operation in a retail business, nor is it purely about purchases. EPOS now plays an important role in data capture, linking with other systems across the business, including customer relationship management (CRM) software, to help create more intelligence-driven retail operations.

The integration of EPOS and CRM means that vouchers can be targeted at a personal level. For regular customers, transaction records can tell you when they have made X number of purchases to trigger a ‘thank you’ discount code. Purchasing histories can be used to offer discounts on favourite product lines, and vouchers can be issued to mark a birthday or anniversary.

Most importantly, digital systems make it easy to track who is actually redeeming the codes. After all, it is only worthwhile offering promotions to people who will take advantage of them.

None of this can happen without having an appropriate means for processing the voucher code when a customer wants to redeem it. With online retail, this is simply a matter of the customer inputting the code into a field at check-out. In store, a little more thought is needed as to how you will provide an interface for the customer to input the voucher into the system.

Hardware options

With the latest developments in EPOS hardware, there are plenty of options. If vouchers are sent using scannable QR codes, they can be redeemed simply by the customer presenting it on their smartphone to be scanned by a bar code reader or laser scan module.

Alternatively, vouchers sent via an app can make use of a smartphone’s NFC capabilities. NFC is the technology that allows POS payment scanners, such as the AURES multi-technology reader, to communicate with smartphones to process payments via a mobile wallet. With vouchers sent in the right format, these readers can be used to automatically redeem codes.

Another option is to provide customers with a means of keying in the voucher code themselves, mimicking what happens at check-out on an online store. With the emergence of Mobile POS tablets, customer touchscreens and self-service kiosks, there are already plenty of choices available.