Welcome to The CITE -- a blog on Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education, created by Mark Nelson and now part of the Publications Department of the National Association of College Stores. CITE is a pun with multiple meanings - referring to cite as in citation, something people reference; site as in location, website, or place people go to; and sight as in foresight or looking ahead to what is coming. Comments, discussion, feedback and ideas are welcome.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Retail Coupons Find New Life Online

Brand manufacturers and bricks-and-mortar retailers used to run coupons in newspapers and other print media to entice customers with discounts and special offers. Some still do. However, since many people shop and read online now, the coupons have gone digital, too.

The first digital coupons that appeared on websites and in email resembled their newspaper predecessors, complete with dotted borders. The latest types of digital coupons have evolved quite a bit.

That’s Biz, a marketing solutions company that makes coupon apps for smartphones, just released a new system that enables restaurants and stores to post coupon offers on a Facebook page for customers to text to their smartphones. Customers just have to show the coupon on the phone screen when they visit the retailer. They can also share it with friends. The system allows the merchant to put time limits on the coupon or restrict the number of times an individual can use it, without having to involve the store’s main point-of-sale system.

There are many websites, such as FatWallet, that offer a wide variety of downloadable product coupons in cooperation with manufacturers and retail chains. Coupons.com recently began letting consumers “link” selected coupons to a registered credit or debit card with the discount automatically applied at the point of purchase in the store (although they can also be used for online shopping).

Some coupon sites are experimenting with gamification as a way to attract interest and give customers a means to earn additional discount points. No Kidding Coupons, a new site, says its members can earn coupons for online purchases up to 99% off by reviewing products and promoting ones they like. However, unless you register, the site is a little cagey about what brands are participating.

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