March 10, 2010

Mobile couponing at Target and J.C. Penney

Articles on new trials of mobile couponing by Target Stores and also J.C. Penney. Basically scanning barcode coupons (Aztec) at POS. Variant on Cellfire and what it is doing with grocers like Krogers and Safeway.

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By Edward C. Baig, USA TODAY
Using your cellphone during checkout at Target could soon earn you discounts.
Starting Wednesday, the giant retailer will allow customers to take advantage of special mobile-coupon offers on their handsets.

The coupon is redeemed when the bar code on the phone is scanned at checkout. Offers are good only once and expire on the dates listed. "We believe it's a competitive advantage for us," says President Steve Eastman.

Target (TGT) says it will be the first major nationwide retailer to exploit the bar-code technology in all its stores. It almost certainly won't be the last.

For example, J.C. Penney is testing similar scanner-based technology at 16 point-of-sale registers in Houston. But at the rest of its stores, checkout clerks still must manually enter alphanumeric codes tied to discount coupons, rather than using scanners.

Scanning bar codes makes the process faster and easier, says Dan Kihanya, vice president of consumer marketing at Cellfire, the mobile-coupon company working with J.C. Penney on its Houston tests. "Any time you have data entry, you have to worry about errors."

Mobile coupons, while not new, are still in their relative infancy. "It's an area ripe for growth," says ABI Research analyst Neil Strother. Not everyone clips coupons, virtually or otherwise. But most people crave a bargain when the economy is tough. And coupon technology works with more and more cellphones.

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Posted by staff at March 10, 2010 11:29 AM