Mobile coupons will continue to grow over the years, as industry experts predict 300 million people are expected to adopt mobile coupon technology by 2014. For those accustomed to clipping out coupons from the Sunday paper or weekly circular, figuring out how to use these new coupons is the first step to make this projected statistic a reality.
With mobile coupons, there is no need for a computer or printer to redeem them; all shoppers need are a smartphone and a data connection. There are new software applications for smartphones that allow shoppers to access coupons frequently to gain the savings while they are on the move.
Here are four ways shoppers can use mobile coupon technology to save money and time:
Text: Some retailers post an offer in their store window or on their website with instructions to text the retailer for a special offer. A user simply follows these instructions, receives a text message and then shows it to the retailer to redeem the offer. Some restaurants are participating in text clubs where customers can join to receive occasional messages and special offers that are available only to text club members. These clubs are free to join and help consumers find the best deals at their favorite restaurants, bars, and stores.
QR Codes: These are the funny looking squares that are being seen more and more on store windows, in magazine pages, and even on outdoor advertising, like billboards along sidewalks. With so many consumers carrying a mobile phone, and new barcode scanning apps being introduced continually, retailers are adapting their mobile coupons to evolve with the changing technologies, like QR codes. Consumers can scan the QR codes posted on retailers’ doors, menus, or marketing materials to find out more about the establishment and/or locate any mobile coupons available. Then they can download the coupon to their mobile device and have the retailer scan the QR code or coupon to redeem the special offer.
Barcodes: The same barcode reading technology that reads QR codes can also read barcodes. All mobile barcode readers are able to read the traditional barcode on any item available for purchase at a grocery store or retail store. This allows shoppers to find the best deals or read more information. It also allows some stores to send users to their own store’s website, where they can offer special coupons for shoppers.
Email: Email campaigns are still a part of the mobile coupon trend because retailers treat their consumers’ email addresses like gold — it is a direct line of communication to their loyal base of customers. Retailers can email a coupon with an embedded barcode or QR code directly to a customer, who can just pull up the email on their phone and have the cashier scan the digital coupon, much like traditional paper coupons.
Location-based Mobile Apps: Some location-based apps — also called check-in apps — offer targeted coupons to users based on where they are at that exact moment. A prime example is someone standing on a street corner with a hungry stomach and five dining establishments as an option. She can turn on her mobile phone and connect to one of these services to narrow down the selection by identifying which restaurant has a coupon available at that moment. For example, some restaurants offer their guests 10% off their meal if they check in and show their mobile device to their server.
The more consumers adopt this growing mobile coupon technology, the more retailers will learn about their consumers’ mobile habits, allowing them to offer more valuable coupons and special offers, and consumers win with extra savings on places and products already of interest to them. The key is making these coupons easily accessible and available in real time.