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Have you ever found yourself heading down a rabbit hole of deals and discounts, whether it be through browsing the website on Black Friday, or trawling the high street on Boxing Day when the Christmas food has been consumed and the red ticket deals are rife?

The way in which consumers today shop is such that deals and discounts are as much a part of our everyday as food and water. We cannot walk into a shop or click onto a website without being confronted by some kind of savings promise or multi-buy deal – but are they all really as good as they seem?

When it comes to the world of retail, many purchases are divided into different categories. There are the things that we need and that we leave the house or go online in search for. There are the things that catch out eye and that we fall in love with – unable to walk away without. And there are the things which are such great deals that we cannot say no – and that is where vouchers and deals really come into their own; using their enticing nature to convince consumers to buy things that they otherwise may not have purchased.

Understanding the different consumer touch points

The importance of different customer touch points is something that providers across all manner of different industries have grown to understand over the years; creating joined up experiences which create consistent messaging across different platforms so that the consumer can move from seeing an advert to shopping in line with that advert and ultimately taking home the product or service booking that they want.

One of the biggest challenges which faces the retail industry across all sectors is the way that false advertising leads to consumer unrest. Say, for example, a consumer sees a holiday being advertised online or on a television advert, which promises a week abroad for under £1000. That consumer may think it is an excellent deal and will go to book it – not understanding that the fine print relating to that advert implies that the “under £1000” promise is only for single travellers who enjoy the most basic holiday package – thus, when the consumer goes to book for the family and finds the price to be much higher, they feel cheated out of a good deal which an advert promised them. What this showcases and highlights is a need for providers to be more transparent in their advertising – putting more focus on those fine print details, and using the right kind of messaging to remind consumers that the deal is conditional and dependent on their unique requirements.

For some, this simply means stating that prices START FROM a certain level – thus implying that the number stated is the cheapest possible price, and that most price quotes will indeed rise above that figure. For others, it means using their various touch points and platforms in a joined up way to deliver consistent messaging to all consumers.

The top touch points used by most providers to reach their consumers include:

  • Social media
  • Email marketing
  • Ecommerce websites
  • Marketplace websites
  • Voucher and deal websites
  • Comparison websites
  • Television and radio adverts
  • High street stores and physical presence

You will likely have noted that a few of these different touch points utilise the internet and different website presence levels. The important thing to note here is that each of these websites creates a different kind of message in line with the brand – one is their own presence, one is their presence among likeminded and similar products in the same market, one is their presence shrouded in discounts and deals, and one is their status compared with others in light of customer reviews. For providers and consumers, the importance of all of these sites reflecting the same messages and the same deals is key – with discrepancy leading to huge problems for the provider, if a consumer buys from the retailer’s own ecommerce site and then proceeds to find out that they could have got it cheaper if they had brought through the marketplace or voucher site.

This is where consistency is key for the provider or retailer – and where shopping around and researching is key for the consumer.

It is also hugely important for providers and retailers to understand and note which demographics and which target consumers are using which platforms – leading to the founding and use of various companies and service which perform background checks and present leading providers with the data that breaks down exactly who their customer is and how they are interacting with the company. This is often presented in focus groups, captured during market research exercises which ask real customers what they think about different ideas and different styles of messaging.

While all of this relates to the importance of a provider knowing and understanding the way their consumers interact with the brand, it is also still important that the consumer themselves understands the best methods for interacting with a brand – both in terms of receiving the latest updates around deals and sales, and with regards to getting in touch with the retailer should they have questions or any issues.

Top seasons for sales and where the best savings can be found

For those consumers who like to shop the sales, you will likely already be aware of the scale of the sale and discount industry – across almost all areas of retail. Seasonal sales, such as those held at Christmas and the end of Summer, stretch across the fashion market, the travel market and even the technology and accessories markets, presenting consumers with the perfect opportunity through which to find their perfect product or service. The best seasons for sales tend to be those where the provider or retailer is undergoing a change around in stock – and so is looking to clear away the stock from the previous season in order to make room for the new products. Of course, this is most easily portrayed in the fashion industry where the different seasons are reflected in hugely different products: the summer stock being put on sale in September to make way for the Autumn and Winter stock which is on its way in.

However, the same can also be true of service and travel industry providers, if the consumer shops smart. We tend to find that season also plays its part in the pricing structures of holidays and package deals across the travel industry – it simply requires more research in order to benefit from the best deals. For example, package holidays in particular are still sold in the same way as fashion products in terms of the fact that you are buying a product – it is simply an advance payment of something you will later enjoy. We tend to find that the best summer holiday package deals can be purchased during the Autumn/Winter cut-off, when resorts and holiday providers launch their deals and holiday offers for the following summer, and offer early bird deals to those with enough advance planning to be able to book their holiday for the following summer in huge advance. These are the consumers who not only benefit from the early bird deals but are also able to make the most demands and requests in terms of rooms and cabins, extra amenities, and ensuring the best facilities.

On the opposite end of the scale sit the last minute bookers – another group of consumers who are seeking the same deals but who are more likely to wait for the last minute and pick up something that has been discounted as a large minute deal. This is usually only applicable in the service and hospitality industry and does not transition over into the physical product retail world.

Some of the best times to shop for seasonal sales and deals include:

  • The end of the four seasons as defined by the fashion and retail industry
  • Christmas
  • Post-Christmas / Boxing Day sales
  • New Year
  • Black Friday

As well as these most common deal days and events, specific retailers are creating their own annual discount events – for example Amazon which has launched Amazon Prime Day: a day where members of Amazon Prime can enjoy huge deals and savings as part of their membership benefits.

Seasonal sales and deals and how to make the most of them

Once upon a time, the best deals and savings were found on very select days of the year. End of season sales were surpassed by the huge savings that could be made on Boxing Day or New Year’s Day – and that’s all before Black Friday arrived on the scene and created a stir in the retail world which saw many retailers launching 24 hour deals that started at midnight and saw many ecommerce sites crashing under the weight of consumer demand.

When it comes to making the most of seasonal sales and discounts, there are a few things that consumers can do to make sure that they come away with the best possible deals – and to make sure that they don’t fall into traps laid by retailers to encourage you to buy things you don’t need or want.

  1. If you go looking for a specific item, don’t just settle on the first thing you see that kind of fits the bill. It can be super easy to panic when you’re shopping the sale rails – shrouded in the fear that if you don’t get what you have found immediately, someone else will snap it up. However, consumers should remember the sheer scale of the retail world – and remind themselves that if something isn’t perfect or exactly what you want, then you won’t be happy with it. Keep shopping until you find what it is you want.
  2. Try both the high street and online. The likelihood is that during big sale events, retailers are not providing the same kind of joined up experience that you would expect throughout the rest of the year. Online stock may be showing as sold out in your size, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have one lying around in your local store. Create your own joined up consumer experience by shopping both online and in store.
  3. Use customer review sites and trust what past consumers say – particularly when it comes to ecommerce stores which you haven’t experienced before. It can be easy to find a good deal on a site you have never shopped with before: after all, these are the brands and retail names which are constantly being channelled through to us through social media advertising and targeted ads, and so after a time we are bound to click on them and see what they have got to offer. Unfortunately, a large majority of these retailers are simply warehouses shifting cheaply made stock to captive consumers – using our own affinity for sales and deals against us and enticing us in with big savings against products which really aren’t worth very much at all. If you’re not sure or haven’t shopped with a specific ecommerce site before, it pays to check out their customer views on sites like Trustpilot – as this is where previous consumers will go to share their experiences.
  4. Following on from this, don’t always trust the reviews laid out on the website itself. If it’s a retailer you don’t know, we recommend digging deeper into their customer review status rather than simply reading the top few reviews on the ecommerce site itself. After all, you never know how many of these are real and how many are planted, and unfortunately fake reviews are rife in the retail industry.
  5. Use voucher sites like ours to find great extra savings and deals – both during and after the prime seasonal sales!

For those consumers who like to shop online and in store, the world of discounts and deals is quite literally a minefield of possibilities – the best thing to do is shop around and utilise the top discount deals and sale events, while also keeping an eye out for last minute savings offers and vouchers.

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