Target Stores to Bring Mobile Coupons Mainstream

As 2009 came to a close, I posed the question “Will 2010 be the year of the mobile coupon?” We saw a lot of national retailers test out mobile coupons in various US markets, but starting tomorrow, Target will become the first retailer to accept mobile coupons at all of its locations across the country. Customers will soon be able to redeem mobile barcode coupons with a quick scan at checkout at any of Target’s retail stores.

One of the biggest challenges for barcode-based mobile coupons systems is getting retailers to purchase (or rent) a point-of-sale kiosk which can scan specific coupon company’s mobile barcodes. It isn’t clear yet what technology Target will be using for their mobile coupons, but as soon as I find out I will let you know.

Last year, JCPenny began a mobile coupon trial with Cellfire on point-of-sale coupon scanning kiosks in 16 of its Houston-area locations, but a Cellfire contact confirmed that they are not behind Target’s mobile coupons. However, Dan Kihanya, VP of Consumer Marketing at Cellfire, has been getting a bit of press related to the Target news, and was quoted in the USA Today article providing stats that mobile coupons are redeemed at a 5% to 20% rate, compared with about 1% for print coupons. U.K.-based Juniper Research recently forecast that more than 1-in-10 mobile subscribers in developed regions around the world will use mobile coupons by 2014, generating nearly $6 billion in redemption value.

Shoppers interested in Target’s mobile coupons will need to opt in by registering at the company’s online or mobile websites, or by texting the word “COUPONS” to 827438. When a customer opts in, they will receive text messages on their phone with a link to a mobile Web page with different barcoded offers. Offers will expire once they’ve been used and on dates listed. If you use Target’s mobile coupons this week, let me know what you think about the experience using them in a comment.