Digital coupons make saving easier


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Shoppers recently searched for both fresh produce and bargains at Sigona's in Redwood City. Consumers will not find any of their specials in the newspaper, but they might on a cell phone.

"It just makes it so convenient for me to leave the home and not worry about cutting the coupons," says Benazir Shaikh of San Mateo.

Shaikh now gets her coupons sent directly to her cell courtesy of a new application for iPhones, Blackberries and Androids.

"Shoppers simply start the app. They get coupons on their phone in order, in distance from the location," explains Navneet Aron with Mobiqpons.

The app senses where users are through GPS or nearest cell phone tower. It then sends coupons for that area. Users can also search for coupons by typing in a city or zip code. Mobiqpons in Sunnvale and Valpak out of Florida are just two of the companies which have launched apps in recent months.

"It's definitely a great thing for consumers. They'll be able to access offers through their phone without having to wait by mail. And so, it's basically its value on the go," says Valpak sales consultant Alex Maille.

It can also bring value to a whole new audience. Bay Area Body Works in Mountain View is one of Valpak's clients.

"I think we're going to probably get a younger crowd," says Xarlene Choi. "People who are into Facebook, downloading applications on their iPhones, those kinds of people."

Advertising via mobile coupons also fits into the budget of small businesses.

"So, the cost is super low, super low, and the possibilities are super high," says Jimmy Sigona with Sigona's Farmers Market.

Valpak is best known for its direct mail advertising campaigns and did not have any figures its cell phone program. Mobiqpons projects it will have 1 million users within a year of its May launch. It currently has about 250 advertisers nationwide.

Shaikj says, "The stores that are subscribed to Mobiqpons are very limited right now."

But, analysts expect both the number of users and advertisers to both go up.

"Mobile coupons wherever you are, wherever you need them," Aron describes. "Let the savings follow you."

It is estimated nationwide that 10 million cell phone and email coupons were redeemed in the first half of 2009 alone.

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