Throw those coupon-cutting scissors aside. A new Web coupon service offers searchable savings you can print or download--even to your Palm.
At SavingUMoney.com, SUMmedia.com Inc. lets you search by city, category, and keyword for local coupons for a restaurant, product, or service. You save the coupons in an online book and then print them. Soon, you'll also be able to download them to a Palm-based device.
For now, SUMmedia.com offers its Web coupon service only in western Washington State and the southeastern part of the United States. By the end of October, it will expand in the Southeast, including Texas, and will open in several international locations.
Like the SavingUMoney Web site, the wireless Palm service will be a searchable coupon collection redeemable in certain states. It's being tested now in Seattle, and SUMmedia expects to offer PDA service everywhere Web service is available by the end of October.
Coupons on the Run
A new wireless service, scheduled for limited release in November, goes further. SUMmedia.com plans to use the Short Messaging Service to distribute relevant coupons. The service supports WAP-enabled mobile phones, the Palm VII, and Palm V with the wireless OmniSky modem and service. And SUMmedia.com says it won't be wireless spam.
"It's an opt-in service," says Evan Baergen, vice president of emerging technology at SUMmedia. "You can select categories and the time at which you want to receive coupons."
Although SMS and GPS capabilities in WAP phones open the possibility of follow-you-anywhere ads and spam, SUMmedia thinks you won't mind. Almost half of wireless customers prefer an advertising-supported model to paying monthly or per-use fees for wireless services, according to a recent poll by the Kelsey Group and ConStat. Coupons may fall somewhat outside of this spectrum, but the study indicates customers' willingness to receive unsolicited promotions.
SUMmedia.com's synchronized PDA services are also voluntary. In Seattle, SavingUMoney.com customers can download a Palm conduit and transfer coupons when they synchronize their device. Even with the conduit, they must indicate which coupons are to be made mobile in order to download them.
New Coupons Need Introduction
To redeem SavingUMoney.com mobile coupons, you can show the clerk or waiter a redemption window on your device's display, or give them a coupon number, says David Noble, chief information officer at SUMmedia.com.
But can you picture showing your PDA or phone to a cashier or waiter and not have them look at you cross-eyed?
SUMmedia.com says merchant awareness and training is key. The company is using its trial launch in Seattle to show merchants the savings and efficiencies electronic coupons can bring.
"Besides printing, paper, and mailing costs, the current process for clearing coupons is expensive and requires both store and merchant redemption," Baergen says. "That process will have to change."
SUMmedia.com predicts that soon you'll beam coupons via wireless infrared from a Palm to a cash register. Eventually, your Palm might even transmit the coupon via a Bluetooth wireless connection, Noble says.
SUMmedia.com isn't the first to offer Web-based savings. Besides redeemable e-coupons, SalesMountain.com offers printable grocery coupons, and Coupons.com lets you print out coupons and use electronic coupons at Web retailers. The PDA angle is a new one, but SUMmedia may have its work--if not its coupons--cut out for it.