JCPenney Tests Cellfire’s Mobile Barcode Coupons

Coupon clipping is a pain, but with the economy slowly recovering from near-collapse, coupons are still a popular marketing device to get consumers to spend. American department store chain JCPenney is the latest major corporation to test out 2D barcode marketing in the retail market.

The mobile marketing program, launched Thursday at 16 JCPenney locations in the Houston area, uses Cellfire technology and works by letting customers scan mobile coupons directly from their phones at checkout. Imaging scanners at test-site registers can read the 2D barcode coupons, saving customers the hassle of clipping paper and cashiers the time to entery promotional codes for coupons by hand.

“These mobile coupons are the ultimate in customer convenience, because there’s no need to clip or carry around a printed coupon, and they can be instantly scanned from a cell phone.” said Mike Boylson, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for JCPenney, in a statement.

Cellfire is the first nationwide mobile coupon and discount offer service that allows consumers to easily access deals from brand-name merchants nationwide through their cell phone. Founded in January 2005, Cellfire is headquartered in San Jose, Calif.

Depending on the results of the mobile trial in Houston, JCPenney will decide whether to expand the effort to stores more widely. JCPenney operates roughly 1,100 department stores nationwide. JCPenney said it will promote several offers to Houston area customers via mobile coupons through the holiday season, starting with $10 discounts on purchases totaling $50, and $20 off for those worth $100 or more.

In related news, coffee retailer Starbucks is also curious about the potential of mobile barcode marketing campaigns.  The company announced earlier this week that it is testing a mobile giftcard app, which works using similiar 2D barcode technology.