Mobile Coupons: get me to the nature reserve on time...

POSTED BY Windsor Holden
Let me give you conclusive proof that mobile coupons are the way forward. It was a hot, sunny Sunday afternoon, like most of its fellows in this unusually balmy Summer, and I was minded to spent it in a local nature reserve. However, I was in need of a few groceries and so, with two sons in tow, I had popped in to a supermarket to purchase same prior to an afternoon stroll. The items were duly placed into the shopping basket; the queue at check-out joined.

Ahead of me in the queue was a short gentleman, maybe sixty-five years of age who, on reaching the check-out, proceeded to bring his wallet into the daylight, and produce from it, one at a time, over a period of ten minutes or so, a collection of rumpled paper coupons from just about every brand under the sun. Then, when the supply in his wallet was exhausted, he dug his hands into his pockets, eventually producing – amongst a host of used tissues and other detritus – maybe half a dozen more coupons and vouchers.

It was at this point that I experienced the rumblings of coupons rage. Rumblings, never bursting into volcanic eruptions; I didn’t actually kill the old boy, or stuff his sheaf of coupons down his throat, but a host of unkind thoughts passed through my mind during his interminable fumblings, and a number of exasperated curses trembled on my lips. I wanted to get to the nature reserve and Paper Coupon Man was holding the job up in quite spectacular fashion.

Now, it would be wholly wrong, on the back of one incident, to dismiss paper coupons as yesterday’s men. But under a model where the old fellow had migrated to coupons on his smartphone, redeemable by a barcode scanner, then the whole process would have been a lot faster, there would have been a lot less fumbling in wallets and pockets, blood pressures down the queue would have been lower and I would have got to the nature reserve about ten minutes earlier.

As is increasingly the case in other areas of mobile commerce – payments, ticketing, banking and so on – it is fair to say that mobile couponing represents a case of suppressed demand. In many instances, when couponing applications are launched by retailers, they exhibit steep adoption curves as consumers make the leap from paper to digital redemption.

Furthermore, in addition to their time-saving and consumer convenience perspectives, mobile coupons offer a wealth of benefits to the retailer: as well as greater throughput, retailers (and clearing houses) will see improved efficiency through having less paper to handle and account for. The whole settlement process will be faster, and customer acquisition costs lower.

At the same time, by replacing the paper coupon with an electronic version stored on a phone there are significant environmental advantages, especially considering the sheer volume of paper coupons issued.

And on an oh-by-the-way basis, mobile coupons can also drive retail footfall, increase engagement, reduce malredemption and facilitate targeted offerings.

We are still on the cusp of the transition to mobile couponing, but the sheer scale of the benefits – allied to the consumer desire to embrace the medium – means that we will see far more retailers and brands facilitating mobile coupon delivery and redemption in the coming years.

Five years down the line, that chap in the supermarket may still be redeeming paper coupons, slowly, painstakingly, but one feels he and his ilk are raging (or fumbling) against the dying of the light.

Five years down the line, we should all be able to get to our nature reserves that little bit sooner.