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The growth in coupon redemptions continues, according to the latest industry data. The analysis from Valassis, the UK’s largest coupon and voucher services

provider, which manages more than 85% of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) coupons, covered the first of half of 2012. Redemptions in the first half of 2012 grew, from 115 million in the first half

of 2009, to 225 million.This represents a 96% growth in just three years, which means redemptions almost doubled. The analysis also noted that redemptions of manufacturer issued coupons have

recently shown modest growth (7%) after many years of slow decline. However, in recent years, manufacturers have significantly moved away from issuing their own coupons to working with retailers and using retailer loyalty programmes as their main distribution channel.

The Valassis analysis of 2012 half-year coupon redemption data also showed that:

• The growth in coupon redemptions has mainly come from retailer issued coupons and vouchers, which grew by 84% compared to the first half of 2011 and 58% growth year-on-year

• Retailer coupons grew by 78 million redemptions to over 170 million coupons

• Retailers now account for over three quarters of coupons redeemed – in 2011 it was two thirds of coupons redeemed


efore winning a retail start-up competition in 2010, Shelagh Swanson (pictured), had sold her

crafts and jewellery at a market stall, where she only accepted cash. The entrepreneur competed against 40

others in Retail Rocks to win retail space for a year and expert business mentoring. The competition involved submitting a video presentation before progressing to a Dragons’ Den-style pitch, where she impressed the judges with her ideas and won.

Following the decision to accept cards in her new workshop-gallery space,Oil and Glass, Swanson has enjoyed a boost in sales. Two thirds of sales are now processed via card payment and the market stall is taking more money than ever before. Sales are up and so is customer satisfaction. Swanson was surprised to learn that accepting card payments was a realistic prospect for small businesses: “I had never considered taking card would be an option for me. I always thought that was just for ‘big business’ and High Street retailers.” She approached CardSave, a provider

of card payment systems to UK small businesses.Oil and Glass was subsequently supplied with a terminal, and the market stall was equipped with a mobile payment device. “The CardSave representative helped

me understand which payment solutions were best for my business.The gallery

seemed more professional than the stall, so it felt natural to accept cards there,” explained Swanson. “It’s convenient for the customers and helps to build trust. It’s also good for business: at the stall, the average item price had previously been relatively low, but by accepting cards, I can now stock and sell art worth up to £1,000.” The benefits of accepting card payments

went beyond sales growth. Swanson noticed an increase in the number of impulse purchases made by customers. And the added convenience has improved both customer satisfaction and the sales conversion rate. Before, market browsers would often be discouraged from making purchases because the nearest ATM was some distance away, or they would ask for an item to be put aside but never return.

Before accepting card payments,

Swanson would have to let customers pay for larger-value items by cash over a period time, which was also far from ideal for security and cashflow. “The benefits of taking card payments

easily outweigh any associated costs,” she added. “Small businesses and independent merchants need to remain competitive in this continuing difficult economic climate and taking cards will help them gain an edge over their rivals as vital customers increasingly bypass cash-only stores.” Swanson concluded: “Customers at the stall are sometimes surprised to find they can pay by card - like I was at first. Small business owners should be aware that accepting cards isn’t as complicated as they might think.”


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