StitcherAds Offers a Digital Substitute amid the Paper Coupon’s Demise

In a post-pandemic world, will people still avoid touching surfaces for fear of virus transmission? Will they be comfortable handing physical coupons to a cashier? Will they be willing to return to local stores at pre-pandemic levels, or will the trend toward online shopping continue?

National retailers like CVS and Walgreens are betting that the changes in shopping behavior they’ve seen during the Covid-19 pandemic will last long after vaccines have been rolled out, and technology companies are following their lead with a host of new digital products designed to accelerate the print coupon’s demise.

Digital coupons surpass their print counterparts

Just this week, the technology platform StitcherAds announced that it would be launching a new set of tools designed to help retailers turn print coupons into data-powered social media ads, complete with personalized information about products, prices, sales, and store location. With a roster of clients that includes retailers like Finish Line, Sears, Meijer, and Aldi, StitcherAds is well-positioned to capitalize on the shifting tide as clipping paper coupons becomes a thing of the past.

Redemptions of digital coupons surpassed redemptions of the most common type of paper coupons (leaflets inserted in newspapers) for the first time in 2020, according to the research firm Inmar Intelligence. At the same time, pharmacies and other major retailers began making major changes to the way they managed print coupons and circular distributed by mail and inside store locations. In January, CVS Pharmacy announced that it had updated its digital circulars in an effort to “better elevate” coupons and focus on meeting customers “where they are.” 

Shopping has become an increasingly mobile experience, and it’s only been accelerated since the onset of the pandemic, says StitcherAds Co-Founder and CIO Conor Ryan. 

“With consumers still limiting their trips to the grocery store and being as efficient as possible with their time in the store, they are craving digital experiences that are convenient, relevant, and personalized,” Ryan says. “By transforming print circulars into tailored, shoppable digital experiences on mobile, marketers can meet consumers where they are and adapt their digital offerings to meet consumers’ omnichannel preferences.”

According to a survey by Acosta, more shoppers today are viewing grocery circulars on their smartphones than in print. In 2020, 34% of shoppers viewed grocery circulars online and 26% of shoppers viewed grocery circulars in a retailer’s mobile app.

Beyond coupons, Ryan says his company has also seen a shifting preference among consumers towards the use of contactless, QR code-based payment technologies and the click-and-collect and buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) model

StitcherAds’ campaign for digital coupons on social

It’s based on those trends that StitcherAds decided that now was the time to launch its latest offering, with personalized, shoppable ads on Facebook, Instagram and other platforms. In addition to helping retailers reach consumers where they already are, the new tools should also save retailers printing costs and help them become more eco-friendly.

Up until this point, Ryan says the biggest challenge of publishing digital circulars through paid social media has been in the execution of replicating digital versions of print flyers. The standard execution has been video or other static ad units that showcase just a few of the top offers each week. That might not seem like a problem, but only being able to highlight three to five offers in an ad unit is a massive setback compared to what retailers can highlight in a printed circular. Solving the issue only becomes more complex when you take businesses with multiple store locations and multiple offers into account. 

“You end up with a very complex setup of hundreds of ad sets and ads that completely goes against the best practices of paid social ad auctions and completely miss the mark on personalization,” Ryan says.

With StitcherAds’ dynamic ad capabilities, Ryan says retailers can showcase as much of the circulars as they want in a condensed format. This allows for one to two localized ad units for all locations, personalized to each user based on what social channels know about their audiences. It differs from the digital circular solutions offered by competing technology vendors based on the level of personalization, engagement, and localization that StitcherAds is providing.

“The solution leverages live data feeds to overcome the restrictions of print to remove out-of-stock offers, add new offers, and to automatically merchandise offers based on performance data and customer behavior,” he says. “[It] also automates the process of generating multiple creative formats to ensure retailers can reach customers through stories, news feed, boards, and search results.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

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