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Safeway?s grocery chain launches mobile coupon program

Safeway's Randalls Food Market has launched a mobile coupon program to help its customers save time, money and trees.

These days, money is tight and people are looking for ways to stretch their dollars, so Randalls is letting customers download manufacturer's coupons onto their Remarkable Card. The Remarkable Card is Randalls' loyalty card. Cellfire is powering the coupon initiative.

"Mobile coupons provide retailers the ability to reach consumers at home, on the go, and even in the store," said Dan Kihanya, vice president of consumer marketing for Cellfire, San Jose, CA. "It's the only media channel that is personal, digital and always available.

"Coupons are really a great application for mobile marketing since they bridge the pre-purchase and point-of-sale experiences," he said.

Randalls is a division of Safeway Inc., one of the largest food and drug retailers in North America, based on sales. The company operates 1,739 stores in the United States and western Canada.

Randalls and Cellfire have created a partnership that allows Cellfire users to save money when using their Remarkable Card.

Shoppers can get discounts from brands and select Randalls-labeled products.

This opportunity is available at 14 Randalls stores in Austin, TX, 36 stores throughout the greater Houston area and 62 in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

"Randalls is one more major grocery chain that has embraced and introduced digital coupons to their shoppers," Mr. Kihanya said. "Cellfire is proud to be among the small number of providers offering digital and mobile coupons to this customer base.

"This shows real momentum in the marketplace behind digital promotions," he said.

The Cellfire service is supported on almost any mobile phone that can connect to the Internet or data network. Cellfire works on every major carrier and phone manufacturer in the U.S.

Depending on the mobile phone, users either get to use the Cellfire application or Cellfire Express, the company's mobile Web site.

To sign up to get coupons in the first place, Randalls shoppers just need to visit Cellfire's Web site at to activate their account.

"Digital coupons mean that no paper is used to distribute and redeem coupons," Mr. Kihanya said.

"Eliminating paper from couponing not only saves forests, but also benefits the environment by reducing the water usage to produce the paper and ink, as well as the energy to move the paper out to homes and newspaper stands.

"So mobile and digital coupons are environmentally friendly and have virtually no carbon footprint themselves," he said.

No more searching for coupons in newspapers and magazines, coupon cutting, or riffling through coupons at the store.

When customers present their Remarkable Card at checkout, coupon savings are automatically applied to the appropriate items in their shopping basket. The discounts are also shown directly on the receipt.

According to Cellfire, digital grocery coupons provide convenience, value and relevance for busy consumers looking to save money.

For grocers and manufacturers, this is a more targetable and efficient means of coupon promotion, not to mention the benefits of being able to market to consumers both in and out of the store.

Best of all, with redemption rates 5 to 40 times that of paper-based coupons, it's highly cost-effective, according to Cellfire.

"This economy has definitely renewed growth in coupons and promotions," Mr. Kihanya said. "Coupon usage is as high as it's been in a decade."

Newer generations of consumers are more interested in trying to save money and stretch resources.

They are looking to do so using the new technologies they have started to embrace as essential lifestyle tools -- like the mobile phone.

"Cellfire uniquely sits at the center of several technology ecosystems: retail POS, mobile device platforms, and the digital Web," Mr. Kihanya said. "We see our technology continuing to integrate more closely with these ecosystems, as well as to provide a foundation for the digital and mobile couponing standards.

"Consumers and corporations alike have embraced digital across many markets," he said. "No reason for coupons to be any different. The phone is the ultra-individual device. As consumers become more and more comfortable with permission-based access from advertisers, the phone will become the ultimate targeted platform for media and specifically for promotions.

"We see mobile emerging as the predominant mechanism for all couponing."