A new grocery store marketing ploy has emerged. It’s the ability to add weekly online coupons to your grocery card, and then at check-out reap the rewards. QFC and Kroger encourage Web visitors to “load coupons to their cards.” Safeway and Vons tout, “come back every week for new savings!”
The concept of adding “coupons to cards” takes online couponing to a new level. There’s no need to print, clip, and remember to bring the coupons with you when you shop. Instead, you simply log into the grocery site, choose the coupons you want added to your card, output the list of coupons that were added to your card (or access your list via an application for an iPhone or Android devices), and you’re ready to start saving. At check-out, there are no coupons to present. Instead, the savings are automatically deducted from your card.
Does it work?
It’s certainly works for my husband who is motivated by coupons, even if they’re for items we don’t need! Every Friday, he scans the electronic coupons available at Safeway and adds them to his card. Safeway also offers “personalized deals” and “your club specials,” which provide additional savings, based on one’s purchase history.
It’s no surprise my husband’s “personalized deals” mimic what typically finds its way into our cart: Milk, lettuce, lemon juice and lemons, broccoli, eggs, sausages, frozen breakfast potatoes (for my husband’s customary Saturday morning calorie fest), canned beans and canned tomatoes, and air fresheners (we have six cats), and bath tissue.
There’s a disconnect, however, between my husband loading up his card, and going to the store. We don’t have a routine for when we go shopping. Some weeks, we shop on Friday evenings. Others times, we find ourselves at a competitive grocery store on Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning.
The concept of loading coupons to a card, however, offers promise. It fosters customer engagement, loyalty, boosts sales, and more importantly, utilizes popular technologies and devices. The days of clipping paper coupons might be drawing to a close.
For retailers, it opens up the opportunity to offer loyalty cards that link to their sites, and enables shoppers to browse for special and personalized offers, which are realized at the cash register. The challenge is that grocery stores offer thousands of discreet items. If they’re offering pasta at a discount, they can make up for the loss through the regularly priced sale of spaghetti sauce, dried cheese, and frozen meatballs.
A clothing or shoe store, on the other hand, doesn’t have the range of products. Drop the price of sneakers and you sell lots of Converse, Nike, Adidas, and Reebok shoes, which may not be made up through the sale of sandals. However, the model being pioneered by J.C. Penny (JCP) could be a solution. They offer month-long sales on select items, retain the “everyday” price on most products, and deeply discount select seasonal items a few times a month.
It’s a powerful incentive to provide loyalty cards, which enables consumers to select offers matching their personal preferences, which could be redeemed anytime within a month. Think about the possibilities!