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I needed to buy a down pillow. That’s how it started. I needed something softer than the hard, bouncy pillow I’d been sleeping on for months, so I thought, “How about a nice, soft, down pillow?”

Next: Where to go for my cuddly purchase? In my new digs in central New Jersey, I wasn’t sure — after all, there are several malls and every big-box store imaginable within a 10-minute drive of my home. But I settled on one of the top retailers and headed towards their massive parking lot on a Saturday afternoon.

Once I had pillow in hand, I headed to checkout, where a female representative was extremely friendly and immediately invited me over to her counter to pay. As she took my pillow to scan its barcode, she immediately chimed in with the powerful “Do you have a coupon?”

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what she was talking about — when I think of coupons, I still think of the supermarket. But just then, another woman passed by who had already completed her own purchases.

“Do you need a coupon?” She said. “I have five extra ones, here you go.” Each coupon, which were direct mailers, was for 20% off any one item. My pillow was $80, so I immediately got $16 off of my purchase. I thanked the women profusely and continued the transaction at the checkout counter.

“You should sign up on the website for coupons,” the checkout woman said. I said that I would, but I knew I wouldn’t remember. So, I left the retailer with my $64 pillow in my arms — and the retailer was left with no data about me, no reason to get back in touch with me, no reason to remind me why I should return to their store.

I know other people remember their coupons — they get them in the mail, tuck them into their purse, and, particularly in this economy, actually summon up the memory of them at the checkout counter and pull them out. Unfortunately, I’m not that person. But I’m still ripe for the picking when it comes to promotions and rewards — it just needs to be in the moment, in the store.

If I had been given the coupon and the woman at checkout had provided me with an easy way to sign up for promotions and coupons right in the store, and could easily print out a temporary loyalty card, I would have signed up, giving my address and e-mail information. I know some retailers do have easy options but I was surprised that this retailer didn’t get me hook, line and sinker with such a good opening.

Maybe next time…when I need a blanket.

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User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • Bob Phibbs
    Excellent story and point Sharon! So many times stores are trained to ask for the coupon but forget the big picture.
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Latest posts by Sharon Goldman
Sharon Goldman
In her role as Senior Editor, Sharon writes and edits stories for COLLOQUY magazine. She helps develop future communications and research initiatives, and also works on white papers and thought leadership content for other lines of business within LoyaltyOne.
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