For $119 a year, you can join Amazon Prime to get your stuff shipped to you faster. For just $29 a year, meanwhile, you can join Bed Bath & Beyond’s “Beyond+” program to get 20% nearly everything, all year long.

So which is the better deal? Many Bed Bath & Beyond fans scoffed at the idea of paying anything at all up front to get 20% off, when there are so many free 20% coupons floating around out there. But then millions of Amazon Prime members think nothing of spending $119 just to get faster shipping and a bunch of other benefits they might not even use.

As it turns out, Beyond+ may be a much better deal than many expected. Just ask Bed Bath & Beyond.

The company reported its quarterly earnings last week, and blamed its new paid membership program in part for declining profits. In short, it’s giving away more discounts through the program than it may have anticipated.

Overall, coupon redemptions were down from the previous quarter, but the average value of coupons that were used climbed. Part of the reason was that the retailer offered some higher-value coupons than its typical 20% off, such as $20 off a $75 purchase. The other reason was increased enrollment in Beyond+.


For accounting purposes, Bed Bath & Beyond considers the Beyond+ 20% discount to be a coupon. “It is counted as a coupon, but it’s a single coupon versus customers in the past may have used multiple coupons,” Chief Financial Officer Robyn D’Elia explained to investors.

So analysts and reporters who fretted that the decline in coupon use meant that customers were growing tired of Bed Bath & Beyond’s most popular discount, may have overlooked the fact that customers are getting more deals than ever. They’re now able to apply a single 20% discount to entire orders, instead of using multiple traditional coupons to buy a few items at a time.

Unfortunately for the company, deep discounts continue to be a drag on profits no matter how customers choose to obtain them. So should it be charging more than $29 to let shoppers get hundreds, potentially even thousands, of dollars in discounts a year?

Company leaders are defending their coupons, and their membership program. The coupons are meant to “provide great value to our customer,” CEO Steven Temares said. And they’re looking to play the long game with Beyond+, which is meant to get members “coming back more often. It’s buying more over time. It’s being top of mind. So as we build the program, the lifetime value of the customer is where great benefit will be derived.”

So Beyond+ members may actually be getting good deals, in exchange for their loyalty. Bed Bath & Beyond investors, however, seem unimpressed.

Late Friday, antsy investors voted to oust a member of the company’s board, and they approved a plan to slash Temares’ pay from $14.6 million last year to $11.8 million this year.

And yes, if you’re doing the math, that’s almost exactly a 20% pay cut. A cruel irony, for the boss of a retailer that may be done in by giving away more 20% discounts than it can afford.

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