If you're like a lot of Americans, you probably have a pile of 20% off Bed Bath & Beyond coupons sitting on your entryway table, and you're likely also aware that, despite having an expiration date printed on them, they actually never expire and you can usually use more than one on the same shopping trip. And yet, the home goods chain apparently believes people will want to pay $29 per year in order to get a 20% discount on all their purchases (and free shipping if they order online). "The coupon is clearly and has been strongly associated with us," said the chain's CEO on a recent earnings call, per the Wall Street Journal. "But really, we need to be working and we are working on becoming a lot more intelligent about our marketing and making it much more personalized."
BB&B launched the subscription program, called Beyond+ and currently available by invitation only, last week. (The Consumerist has a screen shot.) Ultimately, it hopes to move away from paper coupons, which, as the Journal notes, have been "squeez[ing] the retailer's margins for the past 15 quarters." The retailer hopes Beyond+ will improve those margins while increasing customer loyalty, but some analysts say it will be difficult to wean customers off the coupons they've come to expect. For example, one BB&B shopper tells the Journal she was recently able to use coupons for the store that technically expired in 2004, and that she wasn't interested in the membership program: "I don't buy a ton of stuff there and when I do, I have my coupons." One analyst tells Business Insider that if BB&B stops coupons entirely, there could be "severe consequences." (Remember what happened when JCPenney tried to get rid of sales?)