I begin with internet browsing so I know what’s offered before I get to the mall; there’s instant messaging so I can tell the kids I will be at the mall; there’s email service so I can print off my coupons to use them at the mall; there’s GPS to help me get to the mall and now it’s a rockin’ new way to zoom in on my buying habits … getting sent a text message with a coupon code or a keyword on my cell phone the check-out cashier can scan, so I can get the best discount while at the mall!
Does this SMS which is available on 98% of all cell phones mean that some prince from some obscure third world will text me while I am at the mall to help him get his money out of his country or will I be invited to fill out my profile to meet the man of my dreams? Actually the answer to those questions is no because unlike emails, text messages cost money.
This is how it works. Consumers always have their cell phones with them so there is no need to turn around or not make that unexpected trip to the grocery store when you’re out anyways even if you don’t have your coupon notebook with you. Discounts are sent as text messages using keywords, unique numerical codes, unique barcodes, special numbers or UPC codes able to be scanned at checkout. Some are directional coupons which make a connection to the relevant website. Of course you have to subscribe so that would then entail the privacy policies we all have come to expect and certainly cherish.
Some stores have been using mobile coupons already. Grocery stores such as Kroger and Safeway have sent mobile offers and link them to store loyalty cards, so when you check out the card is swiped by the cashier. Subway sends text messages to target consumers just before lunchtime, offering special coupons for each day, thus making an easy decision where to head to lunch.
Will mobile coupons be a part of the future? They do solve the portability problem since there is nary a table in a restaurant where a cell phone does not rest. The consumer can have relevant and personalized offers. It will be easy to use the coupons; most likely the consumer won’t have to worry about expiration dates. There will be no added costs to receive coupons; if the only reason you buy the Sunday paper is to cut coupons, you’ll save a few dollars weekly. One could have a single interface for multiple offers. And most appealing to me… think of all the trees that will be saved. Imagine that… coupons are even going green! -Cheryl Hanna