With the proliferation of wireless mobile communication devices, such as the iPhone, Blackberry and Android, the old and familiar paper coupon is destined to become a thing of the past. Paper coupons that have been a favorite way for consumers to save money for over 120 years. Now they are being replaced with electronically transmitted bar code facsimiles called mobile coupons. Mobile coupons convenient and easier to use than paper coupons as they are sent directly to your mobile device for scanning at the check out counter. The mobile coupon’s bar code is displayed on your device’s screen, where it is scanned using any type of scanning device.
Mobile coupons are downloaded as an app for any mobile device with a data plan, including the popular iPhone and Android phones. Retailers are likely to request that you provide your mobile phone number before you can successfully redeem the coupon. The reason for this is that retailers want to control the usage of the coupons while gathering consumer data. This makes good sense for the marketer, the retailer and the user as well. As we have learned from social media, targeted advertising means saving money by getting consumer specific information to those consumers that are most likely to buy a certain product.
Some mobile coupons are special or limited use coupons, so you’ll need to check any redemption limitations assigned by the retailer. Mobile coupons can only be used once, preventing users from sending a coupon they have just used to someone else. Once a mobile coupon is used, it cannot be used again.
Many, but not all, retailers accept mobile coupons, but sometimes cashiers may not be familiar with how to redeem them. This is still a relatively new technology, and it will take some time for the constantly changing retail sales force to become accustomed to it. Large, big box retailers are always ahead of the technology curve, while smaller operations will take some time to adapt. Eventually, mobile coupons will be accepted everywhere, although countries outside the United States will take longer.
In circumstances where a store cannot scan the mobile coupon’s bar code, you can simply request the coupon service sponsor send the coupon as a text message, which works just as well. Thanks to forward looking engineers and marketers, we should look forward to the day when downloadable, printable, cut and carry, and coupons by mail will become just a distant memory, consumed by inspired technological innovation.