Posted May 23, 2013 3:47 pm by with 7 comments

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cartwheel collectionsTarget recently launched a new digital coupon app called Cartwheel that is supposed to make shopping more social. It begins with a great idea; personalized digital coupons but from there, the wheel gets a little wobbly.

Here’s how it works. First, you have to log on to the Cartwheel site and sign-up using your Facebook login.  You must have a Facebook account to use the program and that seems like an unnecessary hurdle. The point is to get more people to shop at Target, right? But if I don’t want to give you access to my Facebook account, then I’m out. Hmmm. . .

Once you’re in, you’re presented with a grid of themed, coupon flipcards. If you don’t see what you want, you can use the search box to find coupons on a specific item or browse more than 20 coupon collections such as Baby Essentials, Pet Love, Men’s Must-haves, etc. It’s a lot to take in.

Here’s a row dedicated to Memorial Day BBQ’s.


When you click a card it flips over. Now you start choosing buttons. The “add” button puts the coupon into your Cartwheel. The “share” button posts the offer to Facebook (sorry Twitter, no go). The “details” button shows the expiration date, rules for redemption and how many others have redeemed this coupon.

Right now, all of the offers I could see ranged from 5% to 10% off an item. Not bad, but not stellar, either. You can use each discount up to 4 times unless otherwise noted. What makes this a better deal is that you can combine Cartwheel deals with manufacturer coupons and Target’s Red Card discount as well. That’s what us couponers call double dipping. That’s also how you turn a good deal into a “I got this for free” deal.

Target limits the number of coupons you can load per trip. They give you ten slots to start, six a day after that. To unlock more spaces you have to earn badges (*rolls eyes*) by shopping and sharing and following the red brick road.

Now it’s time to go redeem your coupons and that’s where it gets a little tricky.  All of your current offers get combined into one bar code. The foolproof way to go is to print the bar code page while you’re still home and on the website. But printing just feels wrong – these are digital coupons after all.

If you like to live on the edge, just go to Target and shop. When you hit the checkout, call up the app on your phone. Not the Target app, from what I can see, Cartwheel doesn’t show up on the store app. You have to log-in through Facebook and pull it up on your browser. (Not sure if you can get there from the Facebook mobile app. . . ) Do Target stores have free Wifi?

Find Cartwheel, login, find your page, find your bar code, show the bar code to the cashier, wait for her to say, “huh, I’ve never seen this before, let me call my manager,” hand her more coupons wait for her to stop being confused by two sets of coupons, pay for your order and you’re done. Easy!

Target could simplify the whole process if they just included the Cartwheel barcode in the Target app. (Feel free to correct me if I’m not getting this right.)

As for the forced social sharing in order to get more coupons – that could work. Women have been known to dumpster dive for more inserts, so what’s a little sharing between friends if it means an extra 10% off hot dog buns.

Target, I’m giving you a “A” for effort but a “C+” for execution.


  • huwa
  • tony

    Thay do have an app in the android market that you can also use plus if you need to change your coupons on the fly you can do that as well so far I have found it to be good over all.

  • Retail’s Edge

    Tony is right, Target recently added the Android and then the iPhone Apps for Cartwheel, but it really doesn’t make a difference. The main problem most people are having with the Apps at this point is that Cartwheel requires a FB login. Both the Android and iPhone Apps have extremely low ratings.

    Target does offer in-store free wifi at some of its stores, but not all. Obviously this is a problem for some people if they haven’t printed out the Cartwheel barcode.

    I’d actually argue that Target deserves much less than an A for effort as there are so many problems with Cartwheel. At this point, I think they should shut down the program.

    See my argument here:

  • gilrevis

    having had the pleasure and fun of using the mobile “browser app” on my windows phone, i can say that it is useless and annoying to make this app platform specific. there really is no need to make a version for iphone, android, etc. make a consistent browser experience. i know it’s possible because i was using it until IE mobile browser and fbook/cartwheel logon suddenly became incompatible.

    agree on these 2 points: this should not be tied to facebook (i have a fbook account but i don’t allow cartwheel to broadcast what i bought, saved, etc). it’s ridiculous to have to print anything out if it is a “mobile app”. not to mention the adding coupons on the fly is obvously lost. anyway, let us hope they address all this soon. it is a lovely, money saving, time saving thing — IF it works.

  • ruth

    I have the app on my android and love it. I find myself changing what I have in my cartwheel every time I shop. And combining it with not only manufactuer’s coupons but target goupons as well is AWESOME! I saved a total of close to $50 between coupons the cartwheel app and buy x amount and get a gift card offers recently!

  • nicole blinn

    I love it, just wish I knew about it sooner. I use it al the time on the fly a lot, change a coupon here and there to suit my shopping needs is awesome. Yes unlocking more spots is dumb, and having a facebook account to use is horrible. On all my facebook things like this I make sure it is set to only me so I don’t spam my facebook with random crap. Overall I think that this is a B+ for sure. Needs a little work, but overall I think it is great.

  • Mandz

    You just use the barcode that is in the app no need to log onto fb