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10 Extreme Couponing Tips for the Casual Consumer

It’s called “extreme couponing” for a reason — it takes effort and strategy to cut your grocery bill by 50% or better.

But even if your aim isn’t to corral enough free tuna fish and toilet paper to live on for a few years, there are plenty of fast strategies novice couponers can incorporate to boost their savings.

We asked avid coupon-clippers to share some of their most effective tricks to get newbies on track. Build on them, and you’ll be well on your way:

Be patient.

“Never use a coupon as soon as it comes out,” says Isra Hashmi of The Frugalette.com. It’s better to wait until there’s a good sale to pair it with, which usually happens within a week or two.

Save on your Sunday paper.

It’s where many of the most valuable coupons are, but paying for the paper eats into that cost.

Laura Harders of BeltWayBargainMom.com says she waited for a 70%-off-for-new-subscribers deal to sign up for her Sunday paper, and she renegotiates her rate every time the subscription comes up for renewal.

Broaden coupon sources.

“Knowing where to find coupons is half the battle,” says Kendal Perez of HassleFreeSavings.com.

Beyond the Sunday paper, check the sites of your favorite grocers — many have digital coupons you can load directly to a store loyalty card.

There are coupons sites, like Coupons.com and RedPlum.com, for digital versions and many companies also post deals on their own sites and Facebook pages.

“You can also find coupons on the backs of grocery receipts and ticket stubs, in magazines and in peel-off versions on the products themselves,” she says.

Swap.

Couponer Marcia Layton Turner suggests newbies clip all the coupons they can — to trade. “Some libraries and community centers have coupon exchange boxes
where you can swap what you have for what you need,” she says.

There are also so-called coupon trains, where you receive regular mailings of coupons. Take what you need, refill the envelope with clipped coupons you don’t plan on using, and pass it down the chain.

Track local sales…

“Start studying the 
weekly grocery store flyers to spot sales on products for which you have
 coupons,” says Layton Turner.

“That’s how extreme couponers maximize their savings: They find a 
product that retails for, say, $2.99, that is on sale for $1.50, and has a
 $.75 coupon in circulation that can be doubled to make the product free.”

There are also plenty of coupon bloggers that track the sales for you and point out the best deals.

… But start slow.

“If you start off by trying to actively 
coupon at too many stores, you’ll likely get overwhelmed and burnt-out, 
which can quickly lead to abandoning couponing altogether,” says Harders.

She suggests starting off with one or two stores you already frequent, and building as you learn to coupon.

Hunt down doubling.

Stores often double the value of coupons at checkout. “But check the policy first,” says Scott Gamm, founder of HelpSaveMyDollars.com.

“Stores may only double during certain days, or even certain times of day,” he says.

Stack discounts.

Don’t limit yourself to one coupon. “Retailers accept one store-issued coupon and one manufacturer’s coupon per product,” says Hashmi.

Stick to what you like.

Branching out beyond brands you normally buy can lead to more savings. “But don’t collect coupons for products you wouldn’t otherwise buy without a discount,” says Perez. (Couponers call that kind of spending to save “spaving.”)

In the end, you’re spending more than you might otherwise.

Go small.

“If the coupon does not state a specific size quantity, use it on the
 smallest size possible to get the item for free or very cheap,” says Hashmi. For example, 
a $1 coupon for toothpaste could get you a free 
travel size.

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How to Find Coupons That You Want

 

Learn How to Find Coupons for Grocery Products That You Buy

 

 Coupons can be found everywhere! The more accustomed we become to collecting and using coupons, the more coupons will turn up. Here’s different ways that will help everyone get started on building a great collection of coupons for food, entertainment savings and products for beauty and health.

Sources for Finding Coupons
The only tools you will need for successful couponing is a small pair of scissors and knowing where to look.

Product Packaging

Many manufacturers include valuable coupons and rebate forms inside or on product packaging.

Online Printable Coupons

Manufacturers’ Web sites
Manufacturers will sometimes display coupons and other promotional information on their Web sites. Often visitors are asked to complete forms and provide email addresses in order to print the coupon.

Free Grocery Coupon Sites
There are Web sites designed exclusively for shoppers looking for printable grocery and drug store coupons. Some of the sites have agreements with national grocery stores and provide store specific coupons. Other sites have national manufacturer coupons, but also have agreements with grocery store chains to accept the coupons.

Not all grocery stores will accept online printed coupons because of the increase in coupon fraud over the past years. Ask your grocery store manager what the store policy is on printable coupons.

Grocery Store Websites
Almost all large grocery store chains now have Web sites and many times include coupons, loyalty club perks and weekly circulars posted. This can be a great source for compounding coupon and sales for extra savings.

eBay
Auction sites such as eBay have become a popular source for finding printable coupons. Selling coupons is illegal, however charging for the time spent to collect and organize the coupons is legal. Because of this loophole, there are many coupons available on auction sites. Usually the coupons up for auction come in a bundle, such as 20 coupons for a specific baby food, which makes it a valuable source for items purchased in bulk.

Free Product Offers and Junk Mail
One way to get consumers to try a new product is to offer a free trial size. Many times we avoid such offers because of the fear of getting bombarded with junk mail. But almost always a coupon will come along with the free product. Also, junk mail can be a good source for coupons. If dealt with daily by separating the good from the bad, junk mail can be something coupon clippers actually look forward to seeing in the mailbox.

The Phone Book
There are always great coupons for saving at local stores and services inside the phone book and many times they go unclipped. Often you will find coupons for dry cleaning services, hair salons, auto service and restaurants.

Direct Mail
Companies such as Valpak send monthly coupons through the mail. Most of the time the coupons are targeted at service-related local companies, restaurants and home maintenance.

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Addressing Mobile Coupon Redemption Optimization

A lot of us here spent considerable time on finding deals mostly on coupons. Coupon clipping, cutting from magazines and newspapers were we usually find them. Meanwhile, the impact that mobile has had on how consumers access and redeem discounts on food and non-food items are something we just left out and ignore. On this post I would like to identify and addressing barriers and best practices.

Prior from talking about the subject, we have to understand the proliferation of coupons in American consumership. First, as consumer confidence decreases, coupon redemption increases. It makes sense. A troubled economy forces average consumers to cut back and look for ways to save money on the things they buy most, namely groceries.

Secondly, 95% of coupons are still delivered in print. Yes, you read that correctly. In fact, it doesn’t matter how old you are or if you’re male or female, consumers across most demographics use print and digital coupons the same amount. It also doesn’t matter that print media, where coupons are most often found, are in decline.

But things are starting to change. With more consumers owning smartphones, more and more consumers want more access to digital coupons, whether accessible directly from websites or from their phones. So why not deliver more coupons digitally, as in print? Most coupon manufactures remain unconvinced or at least very hesitant to switch gears or to incorporate mobile coupons into the mix.

Barriers to the Mobile Coupon Experience

By examining the barriers and best practices of the mobile coupon experience, it became quite clear that even when you apply the right content and messaging, much of the coupon redemption process gets lost in translation. That is to say, sometimes our biggest barrier is ourselves. After all, the customer experience is essentially the human experience. And as we know, as humans, we’re flawed.

As I sought to research the mobile coupon experience, I did my own testing. I used various apps that allowed for mobile coupons to be scanned at checkout. It seemed easily enough, but more times than not it was not. Cashiers were unaware of how to scan a mobile coupon, or I was told that they didn’t accept mobile coupons. Each time, a manager was called over and the situation was quickly resolved by showing cashiers how they can scan a mobile coupon.

Sometimes I was unable to access the mobile coupons via the store’s app because of shaky in store WiFi. Other times, I was shy about using a mobile coupon because there were no indications that they were an option. Stores didn’t devote any signage promoting mobile coupons, therefore leaving me to feel awkward using it.

Best Practices for Mobile Coupon Redemption

But this isn’t about me, it’s about consumers getting what they want, when they want it, how they want it. More and more smartphone users are turning to their devices for eCommerce. Whether it’s to purchase a Starbucks coffee directly from their phone, to buy directly from a retailer’s mobile website, or to scan a mobile coupon upon checkout, retailers are starting to feel the pressure from these demands.

As we know from our customer service strategies and our community relationship management tools, it’s not just about the technology; it’s about knowing your audience. It’s about figuring out how to manage all the touch points, so that from download to checkout, consumers feel empowered, not overwhelmed or let down by the experience.

Fast clip
Although consumers are demanding coupons and deals on their phones in increasing numbers – Borrell Associates sees mobile coupons growing at a cumulative annualized growth rate of 84 percent per year – marketers may not be ready operationally to handle this deluge of consumer appetite for their promotions.

The realities of retail IT systems and hardware, when combined with the need for significant training of store personnel and customers, often make mobile coupons much more attractive for marketers than for wireless carriers.

The top five reasons why retailers, restaurants and consumer packaged goods manufacturers may need to think twice before pulling the mobile coupon trigger are:

1) Issues with point-of-sale scanning of mobile-based coupons and offers
2) Line hold-ups caused by redemption of sequential mobile-based coupon offers
3) Redemption policies that conflict with manufacturers’ coupons
4) Outdated retail systems that lack coupon functionality
5) Lackluster consumer experience viewing coupons on mobile screens

The question becomes how best to overcome these obstacles in the most reasonable time frame and cost.

Issues with point-of-sale scanning of mobile-based coupons and offers scanning bar codes from a mobile device involves two distinct problems.

First, point-of-sale scanners must recognize the newer types of bar codes such as Datamatrix that are best used for mobile couponing.

Second, scanning devices, which are typically laser-based scanners, often require an upgrade to the more expensive optical imagers, ideally 2D.

The first problem can be overcome with some custom software development.

The second, depending on the number of checkouts requiring new scanning devices, might break the bank.

An average grocery store, for example, might need 20 new scanners at $500 apiece for the 20 check-out lanes in a single store.

Multiply that across a chain and one can begin to understand why major retailers need to be big believers in mobile to justify that investment.

The good news is that Target and Starbucks have already taken the leap, and others are going to follow. For most others, cashiers are manually entering in the digits of the coupon into POS.

Line hold-ups caused by redemption of sequential mobile-based coupon offers

Assuming scanners and software are good to go, operations personnel still face issues with mobile coupons when a consumer seeks to redeem multiple coupons at time of purchase.

For example, consider a long checkout line where the consumer at the front of the line is completing a purchase. This person retrieves the first mobile coupon and hands her mobile device to the cashier to scan. The cashier scans the mobile coupon and returns the mobile device to the consumer to retrieve a second coupon.

This process then repeats itself until all coupons are redeemed.

For retailers looking to drive frequency of spend and speed at checkout, this is clearly a losing proposition.

Innovations are in the works to enable redemptions of multiple coupons simultaneously with one single scan at checkout.

One-scan checkouts are already a reality with the load-to-card coupons at many grocery stores, but not in most other categories.

Redemption policies that conflict with manufacturers’ coupons

Many CPG brands want to get in the mobile couponing game but do not quite know how, given that retailers must submit a physical coupon back to the manufacturer for reimbursement of that coupon value.

To solve these scanning and redemption issues, many brands are bypassing mobile devices as coupon redemption vehicles, instead using them as an engagement tool to entice consumers to load coupons onto a loyalty card or sign up and opt-in to receive future communications – email, primarily – to receive printable coupons.

With the mobile device acting as the engagement tool, CPG brands are experimenting with QR codes and SMS opt-ins in stores and on shelves, as well as in advertisements both digital and print.

Consumers with smartphones now have many options to engage with the coupon content, even if the coupon does not physically get scanned off the phone.

Outdated retail systems that lack coupon functionality

Local businesses are often immune from these headaches but face other challenges.

Often lacking advanced systems or scanners, a local merchant’s mobile couponing is much more fundamental.

Consumers flash their phone with an SMS message and some generic coupon copy sent by the merchant, and the local merchant honors it – or not.

Lackluster consumer experience viewing coupons on mobile screens

Consumer experience with mobile coupons covers two topics.

First, basic SMS text message coupons lack the sizzle and aesthetics of images and rich media.

Second, mobile Web content, including mobile coupons with graphics and rich media, are still not formatted properly for many mobile devices, leading to a choppy visual experience.

Quite simply, mobile coupon experiences are not very sexy at this time. A better mobile Web experience for consumers – and ability to scan bar codes off a phone – will create a shift away from text messaging towards stickier forms of mobile engagement.

None of this is to say that mobile couponing is not happening currently. It is, in a big way. Merchants are finding different ways to cope with their own idiosyncratic limitations and adapt with the rapidly-changing consumer.

Fast forward for the next few months or a year from now and you will find a drastically more advanced mobile consumer.

The goal of coupons, no matter the format, is to drive traffic — literally — into stores. But the in-store experience is hard to control. Just as companies spend lots of time and money training customer service agents to react appropriately to customers’ concerns, retailers must also commit to training in store staff to appropriately manage the technology in place to optimize the customer experience. In order to optimize the mobile coupon experience, it’s essential to ensure that the technology matches the reality of the customer journey.

Marketers will make the investments in IT systems over time to overcome many of the challenges surrounding mobile coupons today, giving way to a more mature and sustainable environment for mobile coupons.

Source: http://www.cmswire.com/cms/customer-experience/optimizing-the-mobile-experience-for-coupon-redemption-020666.php

http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/opinion/columns/10688.html

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Why Mobile Coupons On Trend?

Mobile Couponing – The Way of the Future

Smartphone adoption is continuing to rise, and more are people upgraded their mobile. These new smartphone owners have an extensive range of apps and features to choose from, offering everything from GPS capabilities to the option of making payments with a mobile wallet. As the standard transaction model branches out from the typical process of handing over cash or swiping a card at the register, couponing is evolving too.

Modern American society is growing increasingly hip and tech-savvy, which is a trend that businesses were adjusting to maximize their mobile consumer engagement opportunities.

A recent report from Gallup found that half of Americans identify with being either “super tech adopters” or “smartphone reliants.” The first categories of people are extremely likely to use new technology – 100 percent of them own smartphones.

Mobile couponing a good match for millennials
“Mobile commerce in general is just exploding,” John Pletz, technology blogger and senior reporter at Crain’s Chicago Business, told WTTW-TV – and mobile couponing is no exception. “You’ve got an entire generation coming along, that are willing to buy things on their phones.”

Pletz explained that while members of older generations might balk at the idea of using communication devices to make purchases, millennials are accustomed to relying on their phones when completing a large range of tasks, including using mobile payments to buy anything from groceries to airline tickets.

What Makes it Popular Compared to Traditional Couponing?

 

 

 

 

 

1: Mobile Coupons are convenient to clip, carry and use for consumers.
With the advent of services such as iOS’s Passbook, Mobile Coupons can be stored and carried everywhere at all times. You don’t have to think about which coupons you are bringing to store for redemption. Everything is in one place, a click or two away. Nor do you have to look for the coupons in and around your house, in the car, on the grocery receipt, or in the back of a box. Find your Smartphone and you have found all your mobile coupons.

2: Catch The Latest offers

Marketers unlock new insights through mobile coupons: who is interested in what kind of offers, and where and when do they clip and redeem them? Additionally, they combine simple mobile loyalty services with mobile coupons. They creates a mobile opt-in database—aka mobile “loyalty list”— from there they sending you the latest offers you can get from them.

3: Mobile Coupons are… Mobile.
Marketers can send targeted mobile coupons when a customer is near their store, inside their store, or even in and around a competitor’s store. By doing so, they earn customer’s loyalty while adding value for them. So you don’t need to go to the coupon box and sort coupons, deals that they offer for the day, they will simply send them to you when you are at their stores premises.

 

Sources:

http://www.capturecode.com/mobile-couponing-the-way-of-the-future/

http://www.capturecode.com/new-study-illustrates-american-reliance-on-smartphones/

http://blog.funmobility.com/2013/10/11/why-mobile-coupons-have-10x-higher-redemption-rate-than-traditional-coupons/

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