Mobilecoupons.com enters market with coupon platform for retailers
A new service targeting retailers for mobile coupons has launched, already bagging franchisee clients such as Arby’s and Little Caesars.
In this Q&A, Krista Neher, CEO of Boot Camp Digital, Cincinnati, explains the potential of mobile coupons and how retailers can work with mobilecoupons.com to deliver coupons to on-the-go consumers. Ms. Neher, a digital marketing specialist who consults with mobilecoupons.com, dialogued with Mobile Commerce Daily’s Mickey Alam Khan. Here is the interview:
Mobilecoupons.com – that name is to the point. How easy was it to get?
We bought the domain six years ago because we anticipated the growth and interest in mobile coupons.
In consumer focus groups, mobilecoupons.com consistently showed up as a top site consumers would go to first for mobile coupons.
What’s the premise of mobilecoupons.com?
Customers find a coupon online, through the iPhone app, Android app, mobile Web and PC, and redeem the offer simply by showing the coupon on the phone or scanning the bar code.
Consumers don’t have to find, cut, save and remember coupons and instead always have the coupons with them.
Retailers and merchants can create coupons with a simple self-serve interface with a unique bar code – optional – for free in under five minutes. Merchants have complete control over their coupons and can analyze, monitor, change or pause their coupons at any time.
Who is the target?
There are two target audiences for mobilecoupons.com.
On the merchant side we are targeting restaurants and retailers. Our self-serve platform makes it easy for independent retailers or restaurants to enter coupons, and we are also working on a number of national partnerships with large chains.
Both restaurants and retailers typically offer coupons and deals to drive sales and trial, so mobilecoupons.com is a natural fit.
On the customer side we’re targeting traditional coupon redeemers as well as younger, tech-savvy consumers with our iPhone and Android apps.
Which retailers or marketers are using the mobilecoupons.com service and how?
MobileCoupons.com currently has over 600 coupons available. Coupons are offered by well-known chains like Arby’s, Roto Rooter and Little Caesars.
In addition, we have a number of independent store owners who have posted coupons.
For example, a pizza restaurant in Houston, TX, recently posted a deal on mobilecoupons.com where when you show the coupon 10 percent of your bill will be donated to Haiti Relief.
After posting the deal on mobilecoupons.com they tweeted the link. Customers can then either print the coupon, send it to their mobile phone by text message, or access it from the mobile Web, an iPhone app or an Android app.
The coupons have built-in social sharing through Twitter and Facebook, and are also search-engine-optimized, which increases the exposure of the coupon versus creating a traditional paper coupon.
What heritage does mobilecoupons.com parent brand have in the coupons space?
Mobilecoupons.com parent companies, OpenMotion LLC and Raco Industries, have 20-plus years of experience in the bar code industry and five-plus years’ experience creating mobile Web sites working with trusted brands like Yellow Pages, TicketMaster and Expedia.
The backgrounds in mobile Web and bar code/scanner technologies places mobilecoupons.com in a strong position to solve operational issues with retailers. We are currently working with operations departments of large national chains to create integrated, operationalized mobile coupon solutions.
Mobile coupons seems to be the hot thing these days. Everyone has an offering or something related to scanable bar codes, from Coupons.com to Scanbuy to NeoMedia and Valpak. What does mobilecoupons.com offer that its competitors don’t?
Mobilecoupons.com offers four key advantages versus competition.
1. No phone left behind: While there is significant growth in smartphones and Web- enabled phones, the reality is that over half of consumers still are not using the Web on their phones.
MobileCoupons.com coupons can be accessed and redeemed in more ways than other coupon providers – through PC, print, mobile Web, text message, iPhone app or Android app. Customers can redeem our coupons regardless of the type of phone they have.
2. Self-serve platform for merchants: One of our key differences is the control that we give merchants. A merchant can sign up and create a coupon in under five minutes through a simple user interface, like Google AdSense. The coupons can be changed or removed at any time, and we provide analytics for number of clips and views.
For example, you could create a coupon for $1 off, and if redemptions were higher than expected, you could instantly login and change it to 50 cents. Alternately, if redemptions were too low you could increase it to $1.50.
In addition you can create coupons that are only valid for short-time frames or dates to fill slow demand time periods or to promote a new product.
3. Search engine optimization and social networking built in: Mobilecoupons.com coupons are search-engine-optimized so retailer coupons will appear at the top of related searches.
Even though the site is only a couple of months old, our coupons are in most cases already on first-page search results for their categories.
Our coupons also have social networking spread built-in and can be shared on Twitter and Facebook with the click of a button. This increases the exposure for coupons and brands using mobile coupons.
4. Coupons are created by retailers, so they always work: Since the coupons are entered by the actual merchants, there is no risk of acceptance at the retailer.
All coupons are entered by individual retailers. Other coupon apps like Valpak and Coupon Sherpa do not guarantee that retailers will redeem the coupons from a mobile device.
How does the service work from the retailer or marketer’s perspective?
It is extremely simple for retailers to create mobile coupons.
First, they create an account and verify their business information.
Second, they enter the self-serve coupon creator. In the coupon creator they input key information about the offer, the locations where the offer is valid, and optionally upload photos and create a unique bar code – there are six different types of bar codes available – or coupon code.
Once they are satisfied they publish the coupon, and it goes through an approval process, usually a few hours. It usually takes less than five minutes.
The published coupon is optimized for search engines based on keywords entered by the retailer and also includes built-in social sharing on Twitter and Facebook.
Once the coupon is live, a retailer can login and look at stats for their coupon, like the number of views and clips. They can also change or modify the coupon at any time.
That’s great. And what about the experience from the consumer end?
Consumers can search mobilecoupons.com for coupons near them by category or with a specific search term.
Coupons are location-based, so you find relevant offers located near you.
Once you find the right deal you can print it or send it to your phone. To send to your phone you simply input your phone number. You will receive a text message with a link to the coupon that is accessible by the mobile Web and optimized for the screen on your phone.
Once you are at the retailer you show them the printed coupon or access the coupon on your phone and they can either scan it or input a coupon code.
Alternately, if you have an Android or an iPhone you can launch the mobilecoupons.com app and discover coupons by category near your current location.
Once you find the right coupon you can click on it to display the coupon on your phone.
When you get to the retailer you show them the coupon on your phone and they can either scan it or enter the coupon code.
What’s the revenue model here?
It is completely free to post coupons on mobilecoupons.com and it will always be free. This helps drive higher ROI for merchants since they save the cost of printing and distributing versus paper coupons.
As the service evolves there will be premium options offered for a fee, like push messaging or featured placements.
There are no plans to charge for the services offered today.
A key issue with mobile coupons is hesitation among retailers to toy with the point-of-sale experience – handing over phones to cashiers could slow down the line or even result in damage to the device, the requirement for new scanners and then the issue of tracking and clearing of mobile coupons. Add to that fraud fears over multiple redemptions and the extra investment required for new mobile technology that complements print and online coupons. Does mobilecoupons.com eliminate any of these hurdles?
Mobilecoupons.com has a variety of built-in controls including one-time-use randomized coupon codes – coming soon – and bar codes.
In addition, due to our parent company experience in POS systems and bar codes we are able to work with retailers on ways to operationalize mobile coupon redemption through integration with POS and scanner systems.
Mobilecoupons.com coupons are all created by the retailers – not manufacturer coupons – so there are no issues with clearing the coupons.
What are the projections for mobile coupons nationwide?
In 2010 mobile coupons are projected to grow 10 times to reach 2.3 million coupons redeemed. For 2011 and 2012 triple digit growth is projected.
The same study reveals that 86 percent of consumers are interested in receiving offers through their mobile phones.
The Yankee group forecasts $2.3 billion in mobile coupon redemptions in 2013.
So what’s your go-to-market strategy?
We started promoting to merchants in December. We plan to promote to consumers in mid-Q1 through a combination of social networking, news articles and traditional advertising.
When a consumer does a search using a search engine mobilecoupons.com is brought back high in the results, which helps as well.
What will mobile coupons do for retailers that print and online coupons can’t?
Mobile coupons reach consumers when, where and how they want to receive offers, precisely at the moment they are making a purchase decision.
Because consumers always have their mobile [phone] with them there is never the problem of forgetting those cut or printed coupons.