Online coupon provider, RetailMeNot, launches its first iPhone app; mobile solution offers lots of store discounts, but lacks brand specific promotions
It is a bit ironic, and more than a bit sad, that some newspaper companies are cutting back their daily print schedules to concentrate on certain days that remain profitable. One of those days, Sunday, are seen as worth continuing because of the inserts including in the edition – all those coupons that shoppers clip and save.
But while old newspaper companies look at their P&Ls for guidance, few seem to be looking at the future of couponing itself. Those old paper coupons will soon be gone, and only those newspaper executives seem to be unaware of this.
One online coupon provider, RetailMeNot, today launched its first iPhone app to deliver those savings to shoppers. RetailMeNot Coupons now delivers store savings right from your mobile phone, and without the hassle of cutting and saving bits of paper.
“This first iPhone app is only our initial offering, and we plan on significant improvements and new features to come to support consumers interested in saving money while using mobile devices to shop online or within retail stores,” said Cotter Cunningham, CEO and founder of WhaleShark Media in the company’s announcement for the app.
RetailMeNot, originally an Australian company, was bought by WhaleShark Media in 2010 as part of a coupon company roll up strategy. WhaleShark Media, and by extension RetailMeNot, has some serious backing from Austin Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners and Adam Street Partners. Prior to closing on RetailMeNot, WhaleShark had previously acquired Deals2Buy, Coupon7, Cheapstingybargains and Deals.com.
The idea behind RetailMeNot is the make coupons digital, and to tie them to your credit card. The shopper then makes their purchases with the card registered with RetailMeNot and the discounts are applied automatically. While many shoppers might be hesitant to use this method, RetailMeNot attempts to allay their fears by not forcing the buyer to enter their expiration date or security code information.
But, in some ways, RetailMeNot’s solution is a bit more like GroupOn than old fashioned couponing. Shoppers rifling through their Sunday paper generally cut out coupons for individual brands. But the RetailMeNot discounts are for stores, in general. Stores such as Bloomingdales, Target and Kohl’s offer 10 to 50 percent discounts that might expire in a manner of days, or are valid for much longer periods of time. This coupon approach is being used by many retailers as a substitute for sales (or in combination).
But RetailMeNot is not going to threaten the old fashioned paper coupons just yet when it comes to the kinds of coupons most shoppers still use. A search for “bacon”, for instance, brought up Dominos and Papa Johns. In other words, this is a retail coupon solution, not a CPG one.
To get these kinds of brand specific promotions from the CPGs, online and offline media companies often to sell their solutions to the individual brand managers, their teams and their agency partners. This is a level of penetration of the clients that is still a bit difficult for many new companies.
Additionally, new media solutions to the problem of retail shopping behavior will have to take into account such issues as geolocation, shopping lists, etc.
But all this is coming, and soon. One of the items Apple previewed in its WWDC keynote on Monday was Passbook, a new app that gathers up an iPhone owner’s boarding passes, tickets and other redeemable items. A user, for instance, will be able to buy a ticket using Fandango and then have the ticket appear on their lockscreen the minute they arrive at the theater. Ticket buying, boarding passes and the like are used today, but the addition of location and timing is the new part.
Clearly the future of couponing is location and timing, combined with buyer preference. Give me a coupon for the item I want, when I want it, and where I want it. I don’t need a coupon for bacon, for instance, until I have arrived at the store. The coupon then can serve the dual purpose of providing me with the discount, but also reminding me that I want to buy that item.