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Forget the yummy mummies, Waitrose targets the coupon queens

Personalised shopping is relatively straightforward online, with retailers quickly building up a view of customer habits and interests. But how do you provide that same experience in store? Waitrose believes the answer involves the humble till receipt. 

The upmarket grocer, which is part of the John Lewis Partnership and operates more than 350 stores across the UK, first started using POS marketing technology in 2015. 

It began offering printed coupons to customers in-store, alongside their paper receipts. 'Message at Till’ means staff can physically hand customers personalised promotions and offers based on what’s in their basket, using software company Ecrebo’s technology. After a successful trial in ten stores, it recently signed a deal to introduce the scheme nationally. 

Carl Kirby, CRM marketing manager at the supermarket, notes 95% of Waitrose customers come through its branches each week. Therefore the supermarket was keen to find a way of connecting offers in-store rather than relying on mail-outs. 

"We are essentially able to identify a customer at the point of sale and give them bespoke content based on what is in their basket at that point in time. So the obvious opportunity is to serve a customer a coupon or voucher that we think they will like and tailor it to something they are currently buying.” The discount can be used in-store or online, as part of its multi-channel approach.

Its also allowed Waitrose to get creative. "We use the channel for recipe content, too. So if they have bought a packet of pork mince, we can offer them suggestions via a printed link to an online recipe.” Additionally, it's used to complement marketing campaigns - with the added bonus of targeting customers in real-time. 

Rewarding loyalty

The platform is fully integrated with the myWaitrose loyalty scheme, which has over six million members and years’ worth of data. That means Waitrose can set up basket triggers and targeted loyalty offers to reward myWaitrose customers based on previous purchases or items in their shopping basket.

"If they have a loyalty card then we take the information in their basket over time and build up a picture of what they like and don’t like.” So with every swipe of the loyalty card, the offers become more bespoke. “If we know, for example, that you are a big fan of yogurt we can offer targeted discounts, or make you aware of a new product you might not necessarily know about. “

The feedback on personalised coupons has been very positive, with customer surveys and focus groups describing it as one of their top promotions, says Kirby.

“The constraint in limiting words and characters hasn’t stopped us, in fact we viewed it as a challenge,” he says. 

“Although it is a fairly humble message, a piece of paper that comes out the till roll, it is still an opportunity to take data and information about what the customer loves and give it back to them in a different way.”