For Online Discounts, The Thrill Of The (Non) Chase

Never pay retail.

Advice everyone gives and a point of pride when it comes to shopping, no matter the setting, be it physical or digital.

So, we all seek the bargain. We all seek the slice off the top line on that purse or those shoes or that banana (we’re looking at you, Amazon, newly-minted grocer) that makes us feel we’re making a difference to our own individual bottom lines.

Such is the lure of the retail discount, hereafter to be known as the online voucher — that code you enter to get money off, well, just about anything that costs money, from cakes to cars.

But where the thrill of the chase is part of the experience when rummaging shelves both high and lowbrow, looking for the perfect match between price and product, the chase for the online voucher turns people off. So much so that hunting for that string of letters and numbers is such a turnoff that one turns away from the online shopping cart, and the whole transaction, in one swift move. The retailer loses a sale and perhaps a customer.

One company, Pouch, is looking to salve, and solve, that friction. The firm, based in the United Kingdom, offers consumers a free browser extension that scours sites for voucher codes as they shop across more than 3,000 merchants based in the U.K.  Thus, the search for voucher codes to capture, input at checkout and redeem is effectively shortened — and, more on this later, but the customer who comes to shop, stays to shop: a crucial goal for a retailer of any size.

In the latest Topic TBD interview with PYMNTS’ Karen Webster, Jonny Plein, co-founder and finance director of Pouch, discussed how the plug-in browser extension helps consumers make sure they are not missing out on the promo codes and coupons they love so dearly.

In the U.K., said the executive, the great majority of online retail shoppers have used coupons, and there is always the expectation that when it comes time to buy, they’ll be able to do so with a voucher. That expectation, he told Webster, stemmed from, and has grown from, the 2008 financial crisis, where retailers had been losing business and had to incentivize users to purchase their wares.

Asked by Webster whether online vouchers drive loyalty to a brand or simply a commitment to discounts, Plein said that the context of the promotion makes all the difference. By way of illustration, he offered up the retailer “where you have registered an account with them and they know it is your birthday coming up.” The birthday email that offers 20 percent off the next purchases drives loyalty. Conversely, a brand that offers 20 percent off all products on their site is incentivizing the customer just through price alone, and not necessarily because they love the brand.

Regardless of the consumer scenario, one frustration proves a universal sticking point, as Webster noted: What happens when users click all the way to the end of the buying process, only to be asked if they are ready with their voucher code — you know, to claim that discount — and they don’t have one? Then the hunt begins, as customers leave that online site to grab the code, potentially abandoning their shopping carts in the process. The search may not be a fruitful one, and it can be long and frustrating.  How many times must one click through any number of sites hunting for an elusive code — only to find it’s not the right one upon getting back to the checkout page?

It might not be any wonder, then, that as Pouch’s Jonny Plein stated, between 75 percent and 85 percent of users abandon all hope and their online shopping carts right at the final points of a transaction.

Pouch, said Plein, can be thought of as “a shopping cart abandonment tool.” The user, with the Chrome browser extension, gets the voucher codes automatically upon maneuvering through a given retailer’s site, and voucher codes appear as pop-ups.  Plein said Pouch determines with “90 percent or 95 percent accuracy” the correct voucher code (which is, of course, the one displayed to the consumer). Pouch makes its money as a percentage (typically 5 percent) of the total “basket” (or spend) when a customer uses a voucher code supplied through the automated tool. He likened the payment to a commission for helping convert and drive the online retail sale.

In response to Webster’s query about security concerns with plug-ins (and against the looming General Data Protection Regulation), he said there exists detailed security in place with terms and conditions and FAQs; and, in the meantime, no personal identifiable data is held by the firm as users work with Google’s Chrome.

The upshot, he added: Retailers will not lose customers on shopping cart abandonment tied to retail discount hunting. As a side note, Plein noted that Pouch thus far can only be used on a desktop and that one issue has been to drive users from mobile to that desktop/laptop setting to gather wider adoption. (An appearance on Dragon’s Den, the U.K. doppelganger for Shark Tank here in the States, has increased visibility).

“It’s about giving the right voucher to the right person at the right time for the right product,” Plein told Webster, which increases the conversion rate, a boon for retailers.



The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.