There are basically four types of Internet coupons: Printable Internet coupons are just like standard coupons, except that they can be located online, printed at home, and used at a retail store. Product code coupons and activated link coupons can only be redeemed online. Finally, many grocery stores offer click coupons, which are transferred online to your frequent shopping card to be credited in the grocery store at the point of sale.
There are many benefits to using printable Internet coupons for the consumer. While coupon hunting usually involves searching though newspapers or advertisements as they arrive, Internet coupons can be located online at any convenient hour. They are environmentally friendlier than conventional coupons, as customers only print the coupons they want, rather than throwing away pages of unwanted coupons and advertisements.
As with any new technology, there are also potential drawbacks to Internet coupons. Fraud is a significant concern for retailers, which can result in reduced productivity via slower point-of-sale transactions – this is also bad for customers standing in line. The Association of Coupon Professionals (ACP) is working to improve security strategies for printable Internet coupons. Controls over the number of coupons printed, how copies might be detected, and how to prevent Internet coupons from being altered are some areas the ACP has addressed. To this end, many printable Internet coupons first require the user to download a small proprietary printing program designed to prevent fraud.
Product code coupons involve entering an alphanumeric code during the checkout process that applies a discount towards the purchase. Product Code coupons commonly offer a flat percentage discount, such as 10% off. These Internet coupons can often be found through a search engine.
Activated link coupons do not require entry of codes, but are applied automatically without user intervention. One example of an activated link coupon might be free shipping for qualifying purchases. The link discount is applied automatically to the final invoice by linking to the proper discount offer in an integrated, seamless fashion.
Finally, click coupons are grocery coupons applied to the user's frequent shopping card. This is the grocery store card usually presented at check out. While online, the user chooses the coupons he or she wants, and by entering the grocery card number, the Internet coupon discounts are applied electronically to the account. The next time the user goes grocery shopping, the Internet coupons are automatically applied as soon as the card is swiped. Upons.com is a popular site for click coupons.
Internet coupons add value to online and offline shopping. Participating retailers and manufacturers hope Internet coupons will encourage consumer sales and promote a new avenue of mutually beneficial marketing through value-added savings.