January 15, 2008

Supermarkets Test Online Coupons

In an effort to build customer loyalty and attract shoppers who use the Internet, supermarket chains are beginning to offer paperless, digital coupons to customers.

Instead of clipping coupons from a newspaper or another paper source, shoppers simply visit the grocer's website and load the online coupons on to their loyalty cards.   Grocers hope the new approach will increase coupon use and draw in customers who typically don't use paper coupons.  

Last month, Kroger Co. and Proctor & Gamble Co., the nation's largest traditional grocery chain and consumer products company, respectively, began a limited digital coupon trial.   So far, the results have been promising, and early users of the digital coupons report they like the added convenience.

Ken Fenyo, Kroger's Vice President for corporate loyalty, said in an Associated Press article that Kroger expects to expand its current pilot program as part of its recently overhauled website.  

"We really are just trying to provide more options, not take things away," Fenyo said.  "We know many of our customers are online heavily anyway.  I believe over time, more and more customers will want to use the online option."  

Fenyo said the company would also broaden its services to include sending email alerts to customers when coupons are available online for products they regularly buy.

While online coupons are commonly found for many items, grocery store coupons are still predominately paper-based. Online coupons offer an added benefit to both shoppers and grocers, since they require less handling and use of paper.

The online coupons can be found on the Kroger website.


On the Net:

Kroger Co.

Proctor & Gamble Co.