PAW PAW LAUNCHES COUPON SCANNER PROGRAM

PAW PAW, Mich. - Paw Paw Shopping Center, a one-store independent here, has begun enrolling shoppers in a program that allows them to scan coupons at home and redeem them electronically in the store.The program, from ScanAps, Los Angeles, is making its debut at Paw Paw, though it was previously tested for three or four months at Green Hills, a one-store independent in Syracuse, N.Y.To participate

PAW PAW, Mich. - Paw Paw Shopping Center, a one-store independent here, has begun enrolling shoppers in a program that allows them to scan coupons at home and redeem them electronically in the store.

The program, from ScanAps, Los Angeles, is making its debut at Paw Paw, though it was previously tested for three or four months at Green Hills, a one-store independent in Syracuse, N.Y.

To participate in the program, shoppers pay a $1 monthly fee for a personal coupon scanner that scans up to 150 bar-coded coupons at a time. The scanner, suitable for a key chain, can also be purchased for $49.95.

The scanner, made by Symbol Technologies, can be linked to a home computer (via serial or USB connection) to transfer coupon data to Paw Paw's website, www.pawpawshop.com. Alternatively, shoppers can bring the scanner into the store and download the coupon data into a kiosk or into docking stations at the POS. Shoppers can print out a list of scanned coupons at home or at the kiosk.

Whether downloaded by Web, kiosk or POS, the coupons are automatically redeemed when a shopper's discounted products are scanned at the POS. The coupons are then electronically cleared for manufacturers, circumventing the circuitous manual process through which paper coupons are processed. Shoppers can redeem the scanned coupons only at Paw Paw.

Participating shoppers "don't have to bring paper coupons in or worry about whether they clipped them," said Marv Imus, president, Paw Paw Shopping Center. Imus discussed the program at GEMCON, the Global Electronic Marketing Conference, held Oct. 9-11 at The Canyons, Park City, Utah.

Upward of 200 shoppers have signed up for the program since Imus launched it on Oct. 1. Vijay Chetty, president and chief executive officer, ScanAps, projected between 300-500 participants at Paw Paw.

Downloaded coupons are held in a personal "coupon bank," which allows shoppers to monitor their coupon usage and expiration dates. In addition, through a ScanAps program called TIPS, retailers or manufacturers can add targeted offers to a shopper's coupon bank, based on shopping behavior. ScanAps hosts the coupon data.

"People want something to manage their coupons, and this manages their coupons," Imus said. The system is "easy to bring up and it's easy to train cashiers," he added.

Imus said he views the ScanAps program as a way to hold onto shoppers in his highly competitive marketplace in western Michigan, which includes Wal-Mart Supercenters and Meijer stores. The program will also save time at the front end and reduce coupon handling time.

A retailer's investment in the program includes ScanAps' software, docking stations and kiosk.