Hate paper coupons? Then this post is for you. I've taken a look at the future of couponing, delivered to your cell phone (internet access required) with a UPC code that you can swipe at the register to claim your discounts. Sweet.
The first service, cellfire.com, serves as a broker for merchants to distribute special offers, a clever alternative to stuffing them in the newspaper or mailbox. First, one must sign up on cellfire's web site (no charge), and choose between text and e-mail notification of special offers. To take advantage of any proffered special deals, one logs onto the web site and stores the offer, complete with coupon code, on his/her phone, then shows it to the clerk at the time of purchase. My first saved item is a free 10" x 13" wall portrait from Sears, no session fee and no purchase required. Nice.
The code provided can also be used for online purchases.
For our readers in Western Pennsylvania who would like to take part in a beta test, startup qpondirect.com is rolling out a similar service. Another startup, serving college students, is mobilism.com, which gathers special deals from local merchants and distributes the offers via text messages. It appears to be targeting the East and West Coasts first, making great headway in the NYU area.
As you can imagine, this concept is advancing at warp speed, all based on permission marketing; that is, you invite the email or text contact, in return for deals that speak to your location and needs. The end of messy coupon clipping can't come too soon for me.