Zavers

A coupon company owned by Google has pulled the rug out from under more than a dozen grocery chains across the country, potentially jeopardizing their ability to continue offering digital coupons to their customers.

Google has announced that it will be shutting down its Zavers digital coupon platform. If you’ve never heard of it, that doesn’t necessarily mean the shutdown won’t affect you. You may not have heard of You Technology or Inmar either, but along with Zavers, they power the digital coupon offerings of most American grocery chains. And the loss of one of these companies, means many grocery chains are now scrambling to find alternatives, before their digital coupon programs go dark.

Zavers is the digital coupon platform used by major supermarkets like Bi-Lo, Winn-Dixie, Harris Teeter, Price Chopper, Raley’s and A&P (plus A&P-owned Food Emporium, Pathmark, Super Fresh and Waldbaum’s). It also runs the digital coupon programs offered by the smaller, regional grocers C&K Market, D’Agostino and Macey’s.

News of Zavers’ imminent demise seemed to catch some of its clients by surprise. “Google very recently shared with us this news,” Harris Teeter spokesperson Danna Jones told Coupons in the News. “We are evaluating next steps.”

Other industry observers aren’t necessarily surprised. “Sources say the program did not expand as quickly as Google had hoped, in part due to some retailers’ uneasiness with giving Google access to information about their best customers,” reports the tech news site Re/code.

So does this mean if you use digital coupons at any of the above-mentioned stores, that you’ll have to go back to paper and scissors? Not necessarily. Many stores have indicated that they’ve already begun seeking out other options to continue their programs. “Raley’s is moving forward with transitioning to a new solution to provide you with more great opportunities to save,” a Raley’s spokesperson told Coupons in the News. And Price Chopper “will be replacing the Zavers coupon platform technology with another company’s coupon technology in the near future and expect the transition to be fairly seamless for our customers,” Price Chopper spokesperson Mona Golub assured. A representative for BI-LO, which also owns Winn-Dixie, said “there will be changes to the electronic coupons due to Google’s decision. We are currently at this time looking for another vendor but this should not affect our customers as we transition.”

A&P representatives did not respond to requests for comment about what their stores’ plans are.

Zavers dates back to 2006, and the founding of the startup Zave Network in Kansas City. Three years later, Zavers-powered digital coupons made their official debut at A&P’s stores in the Northeast. It’s hard to believe now that digital coupons were a very new thing in 2009, but Zavers was at the forefront of the movement. “Consumers’ biggest pain point was the tyranny of clipping coupons, storing, filing and then finding the right one at the right time — that’s a lot of work for 50 cents off of mayo,” Zavers’ then-Chief Marketing Officer Anita Bajaj Newton said at the time.

Zavers signed up several new clients, then hit the startup jackpot when Google purchased the company in 2011, just two years after the first Zavers coupon went live.

As recently as last summer, Google was touting the benefits of a long-term partnership with Zavers, with a company-produced case study involving one of its newest clients. “Price Chopper felt that Zavers’ digital coupon solution brought more to the table than other digital coupon solutions they’d looked at, including the ability to load coupons directly to rewards cards and engage their most loyal customers,” the study reads. “Looking ahead, Price Chopper hopes to expand their loyalty card program using Zavers’ targeting and segmentation capabilities,” it goes on, quoting Price Chopper’s Director of Shopper and Digital Marketing Heidi Reale as saying, “I am looking forward to Zavers helping us reach our customers in a more relevant way.”

Instead, Price Chopper – and a dozen other supermarkets – are looking for a new digital coupon provider altogether. “We are working with clients to help them transition off of Zavers over the next few months,” a Google spokesperson told Coupons in the News. How that transition is handled, will determine whether you’ll be able to continue using digital coupons at some of your favorite stores – or whether you’ll be clipping paper coupons again, like it’s 2009.

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Price Chopper Google Offers No More! - Inspiring Savings

  2. Winchweasel says:

    Wow sad to see this go. I’m hoping that Google Offers doesn’t intend to take over because their service is the worst.

    Not only does Google Offer coupons expire the day BEFORE, but you’re not able to find them via the app and location. I stood in the center of the store with the worst signal strength and had no offers for Price Chopper.

    The expiring the day before is horrible. Customer service said that they expire when they expire. At least Zavers gives you until 11:59pm to use a coupon.

    I had to deal with the horrible transaction with the $1/1 Dawn. How embarrassing.

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