Kroger’s new eCoupon Strategy

19 Aug, 2013

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Have You Seen What Kroger is Doing with eCoupons?

The electronic coupon, or eCoupon, will be much more interesting to us couponers if Kroger’s just announced experiment pays off.

One of the reasons that I have not embraced eCoupons is the limitation of a single redemption.  When there’s a great coupon matchup, then buying only one item is like taking a single lick from an ice cream cone.  Totally unsatisfying.

Kroger has launched an experiment that at least partially solves this issue.  Some of their “Digital Coupons” offered this week can be redeemed up to 5 times in a single transaction!  The 5 limit is consistent with Kroger’s coupon policy allowing you to redeem no more than 5 of the same paper coupons in each shopping trip.

This is an exciting development, and multiple usage would cure one of the big drawbacks of eCoupons vs. paper coupons.

The way that Kroger’s multiple use feature works, you can redeem the eCoupon only during one shopping trip, but during that trip you can use that coupon up to 5 times.  One of our offers today is a very rich $6 off 4 participating Big G cereals (Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Kix, etc).   The 5 redemption maximum means that we could get $30 (5 x $6) in savings by buying 20 (5 x 4) qualifying cereal boxes! Cereal is an item we try to buy for our local food bank, the North Gwinnett Co-op, so 20 boxes is not a crazy amount for us to buy.

Here’s the downside of the single usage limitation.  Imagine that we buy 8 boxes instead of 20.  The eCoupon registers twice, giving us a total discount of $12.  But that coupon is burnt, and the 3 unused redemptions are forfeited.  Even if we went back to the store later in the same day, we still would not be able to use that coupon again.

That one-time use limitation is very reasonable and is likely driven by the design of Kroger’s eCoupon software, or so says my husband Brad, who knows these things.   He thinks that Kroger might be willing to make software changes if the experiment proves successful.

A lingering problem is that you still will not know whether the eCoupon will be triggered until you see it on your tape.  Looking closely at the same General Mills cereal $6/4 offer, we find that it only applies to certain “XL” sizes: 18oz original Cheerios, 18oz Reese’s Puffs, 21.6oz Honey Nut Cheerios, etc.  If you slip up and get the wrong size on any of the 4 boxes, then you will not get the $6.  Cashiers can’t override and award the eCoupon.  Your only recourse will be to go through the pain of returning all 4 boxes at the customer service desk.

It’s not perfect, but let’s give Kroger credit for making a step in the right direction.  By the way, if any Kroger marketers are reading, Brad has a cool idea how Kroger can selectively offer digital coupon doubling!

Have you tried Kroger’s new ecoupons yet? What did you think?

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