Mystery Offers: What does your future hold?

E-tail trend of the week: “mystery offers”!  I received four emails the past week that focused on surprise offers. Only once you click through or purchase do you discover what your discount is:


Subject line: Take a peek to uncover your special offer



Rent The Runway:

Subject line: Your Mystery Offer Awaits…

rent_the_runway mystery offer



Subject line: Only Hours Left! Get a Surprise Gift with Purchase

Jewelmint offer


Banana Republic:

Subject line: A surprise offer awaits you.



I am curious as to the impact these mystery offers have on consumers.  A few guesses:

  • Roughly even click-through rates compared to usual — I’d guess some customers are intrigued by the mystery and eager to see what offer they get, while others want to be certain what their discount is or they don’t bother to click.  It probably nets out to be roughly the same click-through as other average emails with a distinct offer.
  • Conversion rates depend on how generous retailers are:
    • It’s most likely that the retailers are offering the majority of customers the lowest value discount or product (ie. 10% off).  In this case, conversion rates are probably lower than usual. Customers get their hopes up and think “well, I’ll check and if my discount is 40% then I’ll consider buying; otherwise I’ll pass”.  Guessing that just a tiny fraction of customers receive the offer for the max benefit, conversion rates are likely lower than usual.
      • Banana Republic addresses this challenge interestingly by not revealing the discount until you check out. By that point, you’ve invested time in finding the item so you likely go forward with your purchase regardless.
    • On the other hand, if retailers go the generous route, customers are probably happier than usual and think “I must take advantage of this offer immediately!”.  For instance, when I clicked through the Rent The Runway email, I was told I get a 30%-off discount code!  I was elated since I was one of the lucky ones to receive the highest offer possible, and felt a feeling of “winning” or accomplishment.  If retailers offer most of their customers the higher end of the discount spectrum, it likely plays out in their favor, not just in terms of conversions but also consumer sentiment.  In Shutterfly’s case, I received 25% (average discount) and it just felt lackluster.  I figured, “I’ll wait for something better”.

Has anyone else noticed or taken advantage of recent mystery offers?


Gap Inc. beta tests “Find In Store” functionality

Looks like the Gap Inc. brands are piloting “Find in Store” functionality.  I just noticed this on their site last week.


See “Find In Store – Beta” button underneath “Add To Bag” (click to enlarge)

For now, it seems this feature is restricted to information-gathering only. Once you click the “Find in Store” button, there’s the option to enter your zipcode and it then shows you which stores have that inventory available in your size. However, as of right now, you cannot put an item on hold at the store, or purchase/pay for it online and have the store keep it for you (like Nordstrom offers).


After entering zipcode and size, see the stores that have that item in stock (click to enlarge)

I’m guessing this is a first step toward a more robust “find in store” functionality.  Seems they’ve integrated their online/offline inventory systems which is an important starting place. If Gap Inc. demonstrates enough appetite for this feature (if they see a significant # of users utilizing this functionality), then they’d likely build out the fulfillment aspects so individuals can purchase and pick up from any store.

Makes sense from a lean start-up methodology to try to assess whether the demand is there before fully building out the feature set.  I’m excited to see how this evolves, and would wager that we’ll see this introduced with the e-commerce functionality build in at some point this year.  Online/offline integration is bound to only be more prevalent and seamless in the future.

Us Weekly Renewal Notice Made Me Smile

I so often receive direct mail/statements from the various credit card companies or magazine renewal forms that promptly get pitched to the trash. This one from UsWeekly magazine however made me stop and look twice. Cute, witty, and playful, it got my attention:


Opportunity calls!  Bland mailers could be made more fun and infused with personality like this one. Would lead to less of a visceral negative reaction or feeling of dread when opening the mailbox…