By VICTORIA McMAHAN
Marietta, Ga. — In mid-March, Publix Supermarkets joined the digital world by introducing to its customers the convenience and ease of digital coupons.
The company-wide launch of digital coupons provides customers with the chance to make saving money easy. Customers can access the digital coupon program by going onto publix.com/coupons and selecting to sign up for digital coupons. Customers simply select the coupons they wish to use during their shopping experience and type in their phone number on the register pin pad at checkout to see the coupon deductions.
The purpose of the digital coupon program is to enhance customers’ shopping experience by providing a digital coupon service to help them save money, without the time-consuming ways of manual coupon clipping.
“I used my first digital coupon to save on a pizza. I was not sure how exactly it was going to work, but all I had to do was enter my phone number on the pin pad at the checkout line and it instantly showed my savings,” said Publix shopper Megan McMahan. “The pizza even tasted better since I saved just a little.”
Enhanced Shopping Experience for Shoppers
The digital coupon program will offer dedicated Publix shoppers the opportunity to enhance their shopping experience by making saving money an easier, smoother and a more digitally fun way to save. Time is always a concern when it comes to using coupons, and with the help of digital coupons, the luxury of sitting at home on your own time to find savings is a welcome change.
“I love the digital coupon program,” said Melissa Levy, a Publix assistant customer service manager. “It’s easy – there’s no clipping and the digital coupons are easily pulled up at our registers to help keep lines down and customers checking out faster. Customers without coupons are often caught behind customers with tons of coupons. With digital coupons, you simple type in your telephone number and the coupons are taken off automatically,” Levy said. “Everyone in the end is happy because of the quicker checkout from using digital coupons.”
Over the last five years, Publix has converted to the digital world. By providing associates with electronic deposit for pay checks, the Oasis program to access hours worked and availability changes, and now by providing customers with digital coupons, associates who are also customers can easily reap the benefits.
“Publix will continue to enhance the customers’ shopping experience and offer value,” said Matt Crawley who is the district manager of the Publix Atlanta division. “Digital coupons are different from paper coupons. [With] paper coupons you have to worry about sifting through piles and piles of expired coupons to find valid coupons. With digital coupons, it’s as easy as sitting back and letting the computer sift through and pick out expired coupons so your hands can take a rest. Providing digital coupons to our customers adds something new to their shopping experience and we are excited to continue advancing in the digital world.”
Room for Improvement
There can always be improvements when something new is introduced to consumers. Something that differentiates digital coupons from paper coupons is that digital coupons cannot double like certain manufacturers’ 25-cent and 50-cent print coupons do. The manufacturers that provide coupons on the Publix website also only allow a one-time use for each coupon.
Once a coupon is selected and printed, the coupon has a time limit of being posted on the website and can be taken down by the manufacturer at any time. This could serve as an inconvenience to dedicated coupon clippers who rely on the doubling of coupons and want to, over time, print out multiples of the same coupon.
Even though the digital coupon program is still very new to Publix, other competitors such as Kroger have seen the benefits that a digital coupon program can provide to customers. As the digital coupon program continues to develop and advance, more benefits can be established to help guide customers on a pleasant shopping experience.
Kroger introduced the digital coupon program prior to Publix launching in 2013. Kroger’s digital coupon program is accessed through their website and digital coupons are loaded onto Kroger Plus Savings Cards and swiped at checkout.
“A lot of customers do not like to clip coupons,” said Kroger Manager Valeri Fields. “A common statement from customers is, ‘I left my coupons at home on the kitchen counter again.’ In this day and age, everyone has a smartphone and can download coupons to their Kroger Plus Savings Card without the hassle of clipping coupons.”
Fields says they have seen an increase in sales and customers are happy to get in and out of the store more quickly.
New services being provided since the launch of the digital coupon program is Publix’ Coupon Savings Helper, launched April 19, 2013. This new program combines available printed coupons from Red Plum and Smart Source flyers to Publix’s weekly ads. Shoppers are able to view their store’s weekly ads and also select printed coupons from Red Plum and Smart Source flyers that meet customer grocery shopping needs.
Even though these coupons are not offered digitally yet, customers have the ability to print or email their selection of printable coupons to themselves and friends to share the savings experience. Currently the program does not offer other printed coupon flyers or digital coupons.
Expansion to Other Departments Likely
In the future, Publix hopes to continue a strong lead in the electronic communication field. Publix plans to open the digital coupon program into other departments, such as the deli and meat departments, for customers’ to receive digital coupons for certain foods such as subs, shrimp, salads and meat kabobs. This would expand the digital coupon program to attempt to meet every customer’s individual needs.
Now that Publix offers a digital coupon program, coupon clipping can lessen, and easily accessible digital coupons can enhance the shopping experience for customers.
As the world continues to grow more digital, it is pertinent for major food retailers such as Publix and Kroger to adapt to continue to prosper. Falling behind can limit the service that needs to be provided to customers.
With Publix and Kroger offering a digital coupon program, other competitors such as Wal-Mart and Target may join in the near future. As the digital world continues to affect an increasing number of companies, more opportunities will arise to guide company advancements.
“If other food retailers offered the digital coupon program, I wouldn’t hesitate to shop there,” said Brian da Camara, a Publix shopper. “I am all about saving, saving, saving, so anywhere that I can save is great.”