How to Get Started Using Coupons – 4 Easy Steps!

How to Get Started Using CouponsHow to Get Started Using Coupons

The new year brings new resolutions.  If one of your resolutions is to get your finances in order, I highly recommend setting up a budget.  Having control of your money and knowing exactly where it goes is one of the most important things you can do to secure your financial future.

Six years ago when we set up our first budget, we were forced into it during a time of unemployment.  One of the biggest expenses we had, besides our mortgage payments, was our groceries.  We were spending over $15,000 a year on groceries.  When we realized that for more than 20 years,  all that money was going toward groceries, we knew we had to make a change.   Actually, at that time, we were forced into making a change as we didn’t have the money to pay for our groceries and stay in our home while receiving unemployment checks.  It was a difficult time but, there was a wonderful benefit that came out of it….Couponing!  And, it’s changed our lives forever.

I recommend using coupons and saving to anyone that will sit still long enough to listen to me.  The thing I always tell them is that it’s easier then you think to get started.

So, if you want to save some serious money at the grocery store, here are four easy steps to get you started.

1.  Know Where to Find Coupons

Obviously, having coupons is the first thing you need to get started.  But, where do you find them all is usually the first question I get asked.

These days there are so many more options to getting coupons from paper to printables to electronic coupons.  Here are top 6 ways to find the best coupons.

Inserts in your weekly paper – these are inserts that vary each week in your Sunday paper.  Inserts are from Smart Source, Red Plum and/or P&G.
Printable Coupon – check out our list of all the top printable coupons sources
Catalina Printouts – these are coupons that print at your store after checkout
Magazines – Look for magazines with coupons.  All You Magazine is one of the top magazine for the best coupons however, Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, Better Homes & Garden Magazine and even Shape magazine have some great coupons
Tearpads/Blinkies – These are coupons that are found in store.  You can find them on displays or hanging from the shelf.
eCoupons – These are becoming more and more popular.  eCoupons are coupons that load onto your store loyalty card or your smart phone.  They are deducted at the register when you make a qualifying purchase.

2.  Know When to Use Coupons

Clipping and using coupons is only the first step in saving on your groceries.  Knowing when to use your coupons is what will get you the biggest bang for your buck.

Wait for a sale – Waiting to use your coupons when the items go on sale is the secret to saving the most money.  Don’t waste your coupons on full price items.  Hang onto them for the lowest price sale and then use that coupon.

Follow Sales Cycles – Sales on products usually run in cycles of about 8-12 weeks.  Also, sales follow cycles of holidays and events throughout the year.  For instance, snack and finger foods always go on sale around Super Bowl and candy goes on sale in February for Valentine’s Day.  Follow our Grocery Sales Cycles to see what you can expect to buy during certain months of the year.

Buy at the Lowest Price – This goes along with the first point which is wait for a sale.  If you wait for that item to go on sale, you are able to get it at it’s lowest price, combined with a coupon and even a store promotion.  Take a look at our example below on cereal to see just how much you can save by waiting for the lowest price and combining offers.

Cereal-Price3.  Know How to Use Coupons

Have you asked your customer service department at your store if they accept competitor coupons?  If not, you should!  There might be some ways to save at your store that you didn’t even know about.  Here are some things you should ask your store so you know that you are taking advantage of every savings opportunity:

Double Coupons – Does the store double coupons?  If so, does a $0.50 coupon double up to $1?  Does a $0.75 double up to $1.50?  Is there a limit to the amount of coupons that double?  Make sure you understand exactly how their double coupon policy works.

Stacking Store Coupons – Make sure to ask the store if they allow you to use a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon.  This is called stacking coupons.  Although you can never use 2 manufacturer coupons on the same product, you can, for most stores, stack a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon.

Competitor Coupons – Does your store accept competitor coupons?  Make sure to ask.  If they do, it’s even more of a savings opportunity.  I recently found out that Harmon Discount Stores accept Ulta Coupons.  Ulta Coupons are usually better coupons then Harmon puts out so now I am always saving Ulta coupons when come in the mail or newspapers.

4.  Stock Up

Stocking up on sale items is a very important part of getting the most savings at the grocery store.  It gives you control of what you are paying for your groceries instead of the store having control of your prices.

Lets say your family eats a lot of Cheerios cereal and you were able to purchase a box for just $0.50.  After 1 week, that box of Cheerios would be gone.  When you go back to the store the next week, you’ll need to buy another box of Cheerios.  And, guess what…it’s no longer on sale.  So, you wind up paying $3.99 or maybe even $2.99 if you have another coupon.  That is a big difference from the $0.50 you bought the week before.

Now, lets say you bought 8 boxes of Cheerios at the sale price of $0.50 (after coupons).  You are now in control of the price you will pay because you can wait for another sale.  You are not forced to pay a higher price for that product since you have enough to get you through a couple of months.

Stocking up does not mean turning your house into a mini market but it does mean having a stock of items that will last your family about 3-6 months.  A typical stockpile will consist of products that can be stored on 3-4 shelves.  That’s all you need.

Get Started!

Now that you know the 4 basic steps to saving at the grocery store, what are you waiting for?  Get going and SAVE SAVE SAVE!

Be sure to visit the LRWC Beginners Section for even more great tips to help you save at the grocery store.


How to Get Started Using Coupons - 4 Easy Steps

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How To Organize Your Coupons

How to Organize Your Coupons

Knowing how to organize your coupons is key to being a successful couponer.  You can’t save money on your groceries if your coupons are not easy to get to when you need them.

Over the years, I have changed my methods of organization from an envelope to a box to using the coupon binder.  In fact, if you are interested in that method.  I still have an old video up on YouTube showing you how to organize your coupons for a big coupon binder.

You can view them here and here. Warning these videos were done 5 years ago and technology, experience and organization methods have changed a great deal since then however, the basic concept is the same.

These days, I have found the best way is the “Whole Insert File Method”.

The Whole Insert File Method allows you to file whole inserts by the date of the Sunday the insert came out. This method is so much easier and with sites such as Living Rich With Coupons that offer store coupon match ups for so many different stores, this method works hand in hand.  Our match ups and coupon database show exactly which insert the coupons are located in.  So, all you have to do is grab that week’s inserts and clip the coupons you need as you need them.

We recommend filing up to 3 months of inserts!

Check out exactly how I file my inserts here :

Key Tips:

  • Take the last insert file and use that to put the new inserts into your file system.
  • Label each individual insert with the date on the binding (Sunday the Insert Came Out)
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Americans have limited options when it comes to saving money

Broke and barely paying their bills, most Americans have to ignore pleas to save more. No wonder the US savings rate has plunged to historic lows, experts say.

Only about one-third of Americans are living within their means and with their long-term financial future assured, according to Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America (CFA).

financial calculationsThe savings crisis cuts across a wide swath of income groups and households — young, middle-aged and seniors. And last week a new CFA survey revealed that the majority are struggling to save.

“I can’t even consider saving,” Shelly Selin, an 80-year-old retiree who lives on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, told The Post. The former HR executive and his wife, who pay a $2,500 monthly mortgage, finance their retirement mostly from investments, annuities and Social Security. That’s before living expenses, including food and electricity, are factored in.

As a volunteer tax preparer with an active social life, Selin is alarmed at talk of saving. “Bank interest rates are at less than 1 percent, and I’ve heard stories of people saying, ‘I thought I had enough money in CDs, and now I don’t.’ They forget these CDs don’t pay any interest.”

These struggling savers are not alone. The United Way of Northern New Jersey charity has coined a new term, ALICE, for the vast population of low- and moderate-income households that are now sometimes a paycheck away from financial disaster.

For ALICE (Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed consumers), saving is often the last thing on their minds.

“They are barely getting by,” said Laura Bruno of the United Way of Northern New Jersey. “They are not able to put any more aside for savings, so if they have one emergency — [for example, if] the car breaks down — they can find themselves in real trouble.”

Despite today’s bank come-ons for new savers — $200 cash bonuses are one recent incentive — hard-core savers are scarce.

As shoppers rushed to the mall this past Christmas, the savings rate (the percentage of disposable income households are putting aside) declined to an 11-month low of 3.9 percent.

Analysts are not surprised. “The American government strongly believes that people should spend as much money as they get,” said bank analyst Dick Bove of Rafferty Capital Markets.

Source :

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Saving is no longer as simple as keeping all your coinage in a jar on the mantelpiece or storing cash in the mattress. The world has become a technologically and economically complex place. Whilst the earliest forms of insurance, relating to business risk and retirement, date as far back as the Chinese in the 3rd century BCE, the methods of payment and options available were limited. A once off payment was all that was needed and you could get up to double your money back.
Digital technology and our diverse economic systems and policies have increased our options both for investment and for risk protection. This is an arena that is constantly changing, growing rapidly and needs to be monitored regularly – which is one reason for having your own financial planner!
Regardless of how your portfolio looks, there are some standard principles to employ when saving for the future:

Step 1. Having a budget

The first step in saving money is to ensure that you know where you are spending your money. Draft a budget. This can be a simple document that shows your inflows on the one side and all your outflows on the other side. Now your goal is to reduce your debt payments, by paying off your most expensive (highest interest rate) debt first. Budgeting is crucial to creating a sustainable investment plan and to ensure that you are saving enough for the future. If you need help with this, go to my contact page and let’s hook up!

Step 2. Choosing your investment options

Now that you have some disposable income and less debt, you need to investigate all the options that are available. Meeting with me will help you find the products that are best suited to your needs. These products vary in length, access to funds, return on your investment and the fees that are involved. If your your saving goal is less than 12 months, then look to your bank and make use of their products. The longer you want to invest for opens up opportunities to make use of Exchange Traded Funds, Unit Trusts as well as Property, Endowments and Retirement Annuities.

Step 3. Protect yourself.

I know! It’s strange to mention insurance in an article about savings but it is really important. If you are not able to earn your income, you are unable to maintain your saving goals and the investments that you have put in place. It’s a good idea to speak to me review your entire portfolio every year, to ensure that you are getting the best cover for your money.
And that’s it in a nutshell! Remember, the more we talk, the higher your chance of making wise choices around the future of your earnings to provide for yourself and your family!
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How to Tell if a Coupon is Fraudulent

See some tips on how to spot fraudulent coupons.  Just a few bad couponers can ruin it for everyone. / / Frugal Living

I hope you are with me when I say that coupons are awesome!  They are a vital part of how I stick to my weekly budget and keep costs down.  Unfortunately, like many good things, there are folks out there who take advantage of a great system and it can mess things up for all of us.Fraudulent Huggies Coupon

Fraudulent coupons are a huge issue and they are likely why you get questions or funny looks from cashiers and managers from time to time – even if you are using coupons properly.

A Southern Savers reader and cashier shared on Facebook that someone tried to use an $8 off Huggies coupon in her line. When questioned about the source of the coupon, the shopper yelled at her and demanded that she take it.

If you’ve been couponing for a while, you probably know that $8 Huggies coupons don’t really exist.  Maybe if you had a complaint or issue with diapers and the company mailed you a coupon, but more than likely it will have holograms and all sorts of other fraud protection features on it if that were the case… it’s most certainly not printable.

How can I check out a specific coupon?

Head to the Coupon Information Center website, who maintains a running list of known fraudulent coupons. Turns out, the $8 Huggies coupon is on that list!

What are some red flags?

I want us all to be informed on how to use coupons properly and how to spot fraudulent coupons, so here are some tips and resources you can use. Before I post a new coupon, you can be sure I research the source.

Here are some things that should get your fraudulent coupon radar going:

It sounds too good to be true (very high value)

It’s for a completely free product (Free Tide, free Olive Oil)

It’s a PDF and not hosted directly on the manufacturer’s site

It was forwarded to you as an email attachment from a friend

Where can I find legitimate coupons?
If you print a coupon from, Smartsource, CouponNetwork, RedPlum, or links from the coupon database, you can be sure that what you have is a valid coupon.  However, you may notice a coupon on the fraud list that looks like a valid printable. If someone mass copies a printable coupon – it will show up on the fraudulent list.  Always be sure to print your two from a legitimate source and never copy a coupon.

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What is Coupon Fraud?

With the increht_doritos_coupon_real_100621_fake_mnase of coupon usage, grocery store chains such as Publix are finding it necessary to provide the cashiers with more training on detecting fraudulent coupons.

With coupon usage almost up by 50 percent at Publix, training cashiers to spot fake coupon is the preferred choice rather than to stop accepting coupons that fall under the high risk categories, such as online printable coupons.

“It costs everyone money,” says Publix spokesperson Shannon Patten, “I mean, it costs Publix money. It costs our manufacturers money.”

Spotting Fake Coupons

Cashiers at Publix are trained to look out for certain industry standards that are not met when accepting coupons such as:

  • Coupons that are far more than the actual price of an item.
  • Coupons without UPC codes.
  • Coupons where a purchase is not required to redeem the coupon.
  • Coupons that do not have conditions of usage in small print.

The Importance of Being a Responsible Coupon User

Couponers have more sources than ever for finding coupons to use on a variety of grocery products, medicines, clothing, restaurants and other services. Coupons can be found on product packages, in newspapers, online, with cell phone applications and in magazines.

There are so many legitimate places to find coupons, coupon clippers should simply not use any coupon that looks questionable. Why? Because stores can only absorb so much of the loss that comes with accepting


Blowing the Whistle on Fake Coupons

A good source for finding out which fake coupons are being circulated is to check The Coupon Information Corporation (CIG) which keeps an updated list online of counterfeit coupons. It is also a good source for reporting a coupon that you think could be a fake.

You can also report suspected fraudulent coupons to:

  • Federal Trade Commission
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • U.S. Postal Service: US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS)

What You Shouldn’t Do

What you should not do is confront anyone who you feel is involved in distributing fake coupons or running a coupon scam. Let the authorities deal with it – it’s safer. But do report coupons you see that look questionable by sending the link to where the coupon is posted online, or any other valuable information you have about where you saw or you received a questionable coupon.

Afraid of Getting Someone in Trouble?

The authorities are looking for the big coupon scammers who make a lot of money, not the people like us who could innocently post a fake coupon link. Most responsible coupon users and those who post coupons online to help others find the good deals would want to know if a coupon was a fake.

It is people like us that can help protect this invaluable way of saving money by being alert and by helping curtail the distribution and use of fake coupons.

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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.

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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Methods to Cut Costs Via Couponing

Methods to Cut Costs Via Couponing

There are numerous men and women reaping the benefits of discount coupons. While it noises straightforward when they explore it, some effort and firm is necessary. This informative article could enable you to be savvy with discount coupons as well.

Try using coupons when you can find acquire one get one cost-free product sales on your shop. You obtain one item free of charge and then a good selling price about the other purchase. You might find that you spend regarding a quarter of their preliminary value.

Discount coupons can be found from a number of options. The Sunday paper has long been a great resource for coupon put in or two. You will find coupon codes in magazines and in stores. Also you can go to sites to assist you pick and choose coupons to print.

Use levels of competition in your favor. Coupons presented at one particular retail store are often applied in a contender. Because of this you will no longer need to go from a store to a different to economize and get away from visiting numerous merchants. You can easily eliminate your financial savings in gasoline costs by driving a car about a lot of.

Commit each day of your own 7 days couponing. This should help you make things more potent.

Make sure you recognize that discount coupons for expiration schedules. You will find vouchers on the market that might simply a single day. Other folks will a little lengthier. Make sure that you examine weekly to determine if you now have expired coupons. This enables you to utilize most of money using your coupons.

Be sure your coupon codes are paired track of the specific sales of your own supermarket revenue. This provides you with probably the most financial savings. Most discount coupons are valid for a minimum of three months consequently, so keep your coupons before the following sale. Coupons when coupled with shop sales could help you save much cash on the full shopping monthly bill.

Money stores are excellent source of price savings. Lots of time you’re capable to locate the company within the voucher inside a low cost retail store will complement price ranges at other stores. These budget merchants ordinarily have overstocked things to offset the fees from the goods. This can be in your favor as this promotion can be used around the currently lower price.

Everyone understands about coupon codes however, not every person understands how to utilize them the proper way or where to find the best ones. Still research the ideas distributed in the following paragraphs to carry on racking up the savings.



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Helpful Information For Effectively Using Coupons And Saving Money

A Guide To Effectively Using Coupons And Saving Cash

Everyone loves to conserve, but it’s especially sweet when you find a great coupon that provides savings with an item you already need. You will discover coupons in several good places, including magazines, newspapers, and web-based. Make use of the great ideas on this page, and clip some coupons to save some money with

Find out how your best stores handle coupons before shopping day. Would they allow you to double on a coupon? Will they accept coupons from competitors or ones that are printed online? Should you be unfamiliar with the coupon policy, you will not know whenever you can make use of coupon at the shop.

Use each of the coupons that one could. More items are available once you have a lot of coupons. This allows you to maintain stocks of the products you usually use. If you locate 5 coupons to get a cereal you take in regularly, use them all at once and store the extra cereal in the pantry.

Take a moment to create up an inventory to take along when you find yourself shopping with coupons. You should ensure your coupons are accessible, so it will be easier to cross off a product and grab the appropriate coupon. You need to jot down the quantity of each specific item you need.

Even though your plans aren’t to work with every coupon that you find, you will want to bring them anyway. One never knows, you may need that coupon and it would be great for those who have it along with you outback menu.

You may shop at dollar stores in order to save lots of money over a few items. You can often find brands that match coupons with dollar stores. Overstocked items are often brought to these low end retailers in order to offset costs. You can save tremendously through the use of coupons at these dollar stores.

Don’t allow couponing to utilize up time that you don’t have. Couponing can be addictive and time-consuming when you allow it to absorb you. Take a moment a estimate how much you save each hour, so that you know if the time you would spend will be worth how much you save.

Making weekly shopping trips is the best way to utilize your coupons. Weekly specials change, so you need to shop frequently to benefit from these deals. Stores generally offer coupons with a weekly basis that provide great savings.

Do not forget that they coupons they provide you with if you check out cannot be doubled. Make sure you check out the store’s policy before going to learn whatever they can and cannot accept. There’s no reason to try and use two coupons at a store that doesn’t enable you to.

When working with lots of coupons, tend not to be ashamed. If you’re saving a number of cash then spend the money for people line behind you no mind at the moment. You ought to simply take a few minutes if you stay organized.

You possess learned how to find and make use of valuable coupons by reading this article. Now you need to use the tips you’ve learned to get the very best coupons that are offered for yourself. You can even save cash on travel if you play your cards right.



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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.


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