Coupons are my life but mobile coupons. . . not so much. Like many Americans, I’m just beginning to navigate those choppy waters. According to stats from eMarketer, 15.6 million smartphone users will redeem a mobile coupon this year which is a 117% change from the prior year.
And though the numbers will continue to rise, the triple-digit returns are expected to level off by next year.
Part of the reason for the rise is that mobile coupons are becoming more common and thus easier to use. This week, I had a Buy 1 Get 1 meal special from a local restaurant that said I could print the coupon or simply show it to the waiter on my phone. I printed it because the phone has been an issue in the past. Waiters know how to deal with paper coupons but digital ones? Not so much.
In addition there’s the odd downside of having to actually hand over your phone. Some coupons have a code that must be scanned, others, a code number. Either way, the waiter has to take your phone to read the code or take it to the register to scan it. That’s a quirk that makes some people uncomfortable. Our phones are full of personal information and the idea of getting a stranger’s fingerprints on the screen is enough to keep some people from using that $5 discount.
The upside of mobile coupons is obvious. You don’t have to remember to print, cut and carry. You save ink and trees and you can make a last minute restaurant choice based on what you find on your phone.
I’ve no doubt that mobile coupon offerings and usage will continue to rise, but I don’t foresee the extinction of the printed coupon. At least, not until printed money becomes extinct. At that point, it’ll be all digital, all the time.