On Monday I published an article for our thrifty working moms about coupons, and this morning I ran across another coupon idea while reading CNN. According to Online Coupons on a Keychain, fewer than 1% of all coupons are ever redeemed. But co-founders of ScanAps, Vijay Chetty and Fred Paul, believe that they have figured out a way to save manufacturers and grocers money and time by creating a USB scanner that fits on a key chain. Shoppers can scan paper-coupon bar codes at home and then download them when they get to the store.
The duo ran a test in New York in 2004 to see how well it worked, and they found that shoppers used 26% more coupons while shopping.
I can see the benefit and the drawback to this. First, who has time to sit around and clip and organize coupons? This has always been a major drawback to coupon shopping. Scanning an item into the device would make that a lot easier, as it could be done while reading the Sunday paper. It would also save money, as multiple coupons could be placed on sheets of paper rather than having one coupon per sheet.
Yet if the coupons are scanned into this device, how do you know for what you have coupons for? If you have to sit down and write out what you have a coupon for, where the coupon is valid, the expiration date, and how much that coupon is worth, it seems the effort to cut the coupon out would be easier than the effort to keep track of what you have. Also, how many coupons would it hold? Would you only be able to scan what you want for the week? I can tell you from talking with other coupon-crazy ladies like myself; we want to be able to horde coupons until the sales. Using a coupon without a sale really doesn´t save you a significant amount of money, but by using them during a sale you can save quite a lot.
I love this new business idea, though, whether it has all the glitches worked out or not. The founders have taken something that many people are not taking advantage of but, if they did take advantage of it, could be saving a lot of money, and they have tried to make it easier for both the consumer and the storeowner. It will be interesting to see how it works when it comes out as a test run in my area. I´d sign up to try it out-anything to save a little time!
You can find the article in its entirety here http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fsb/fsb_archive/2006/09/01/8384887/index.htm?postversion=2006091111.