By David Dorf on Jun 02, 2009
Following my criticism of m-commerce, I thought I'd talk about a more promising use of mobile phones for retail. If you're like me, you loath to cut coupons, but they are a great way to save money. They're also an excellent way for manufacturers and retailers to entice new consumers, so its a win-win. Just as some airlines now allow boarding passes to be downloaded to phones and scanned at the gate, grocers like Kroger, Randalls, and ShopRite are using mobile phones as coupons.
Companies like Samplesaint and Cellfire let consumers select the coupons that interest them, then download them to their mobile phone, usually via an application or or a text message that links back to the website. Then at checkout the consumer hands the phone to the cashier and the coupons are scanned.
According to Jupiter Research, nearly three billion mobile coupons will be issued to mobile users and just under $7 billion discounts redeemed by 2011.
Its easier to search for coupons, no need to clip them, redemption is simple, and no paper is wasted. Sounds good, right? Well it could be better. Seems to me that handing over my phone while the cashier scans the coupons could be time consuming, especially since phones vary so much. Cashiers will need to know how to scroll down for each coupon on different types of phones.
According to the Cellfire website, there's also an option to associate the coupons with your loyalty card. Now we're talking! One swipe of my card and my coupons are redeemed, my discounts are applied, and in some cases, I get points awarded. Now that's efficient.