Published in CSP Daily News
Single-store owner saves time, pennies via coupon-processing website
KILLEEN, Texas -- Store manager Kenyana Fletcher was stymied by the coupon-reimbursement process, which dangled a 6-to-8 cent reward per coupon if she came up with a way to separate and track what she collected at her registers and then sent in.
It would be more convenient for the manager of Nathan's Grocer, a single-store operation outside of Fort Hood, Texas, to send the coupons customers gave her to a single clearinghouse. Then that company would process everything for her. But she'd also lose out on the 6-to-8 cents per coupon incentive and postage that manufacturers will typically give back to the retailer.
"I'm a small store," Fletcher told CSP Daily News. "I want to count my coupons and keep the proceeds."
The extent of couponing in the c-store space is not known, with little to no information existing from established industry resources. But Michael Brady, president, couponredemption123.com, Chardon, Ohio, said categories like tobacco, candy and snacks are prime for coupons and have been for a while.
But keeping track, totaling numbers and then making sure the proper coupons went to the respective manufacturers is daunting for many retailers, especially when no in-house system exits, as in Fletcher's case.
Then during a recent late-night search on the Internet, Fletcher found Brady's website, which allowed her to start up an account, add to a preset list of vendors and calculate reimbursement, handling and postage costs. She still has to separate the coupons and mail them to specific vendors, but she was able to keep the additional proceeds.
The inspiration for the site, Brady said, was his background as a retailer, running discount tobacco locations that at its height grew to five stores. In his experience, he evolved from tracking coupons with paper and pencil to creating an Excel spreadsheet. Eventually, he envisioned a website that would handle these tasks and allow those who had yet to develop their own systems to jump right in. "When it's all entered in, you print an invoice, throw the coupons in an envelope and then you're done."
The website is at www.couponredemption123.com, coming with a nominal monthly service fee.
The use of coupons in c-stores recently made news when coupon giant Catalina Marketing, St. Petersburg, Fla., which handles a large segment of the grocery business, announced its interest in the c-store channel. Initially targeting larger convenience chains, the company is installing hardware at retailer sites for free, using networking connections and customer databases to print up relevant offers. (See Related Content below for previous CSP Daily News coverage.)