AOL launches online coupon service?
AOL has announced a free consumer service that ties online coupons to loyalty cards.
The web-based service, called Shortcuts, has been designed to avoid the hassle of using coupons as the customer does not need to cut them out or print them.
It aims to enable manufacturers to distribute the coupons online easily.
AOL says that the user would be able to simply choose the ones they like online and add them to an account tied to a grocery store’s loyalty programme.
They would then be able to use the coupons through their loyalty card at the POS. US retail chains Kroger grocery stores and General Mills have already joined the service.
The service records purchases and shopping habits, with technology that helps marketers focus campaigns on products that shoppers really want. Some privacy advocates have criticised the scheme.
Kroger is offering the service at 2,481 stores including its own-name outlets plus Ralphs, King Soopers and Fry’s in 31 states across US. General Mills signed on to offer coupons for Cheerios, Green Giant and Yoplait. Kimberly-Clark and Kraft will begin offering discounts on items by the end of March.
AOL says all consumer information remains confidential, and will only be offered as aggregate in reports to consumer goods product (CPG) companies, which use the information to provide better service and products.
The service offers a range of benefits to marketers and CPG companies, providing faster access to data. Shorcuts can deliver information on results from paper coupon marketing campaigns in two weeks, rather than the 60 and 90 days it previously took.
Shoppers can visit shortcuts.com to set up an account using store loyalty cards from Kroger grocery stores by typing in the number on the back of the card, which identifies them at the POS in the store.
Consumers can search the online coupon service by brand, product or category and click on grocery coupons they want to add to their card. The cash register clerk scans the loyalty card at the POS. An API Shortcuts website integrates with the grocer’s POS software from IBM used at checkout registers, and the coupons are automatically applied to the purchases.