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SmartSource Direct

Don’t want to clip coupons and shuffle off to the store? Well, now you can snap a photo with your smartphone and redeem that coupon digitally! Wait, that sounds familiar, and perhaps just a little illegal (read: “SnipSnap Coupon App Comes Under Fire”).

But with SmartSource, it’s all on the up and up. The coupon provider is launching a new website and app that will allow you to redeem its paper coupons, online. SmartSource Direct is “the first e-commerce platform to allow shoppers the ability to directly apply print coupons found in the Free Standing Insert SmartSource Magazine, against online purchases,” the company has announced.

Now, don’t start daydreaming about using SmartSource coupons to get a discount on Amazon or Target.com, because it doesn’t work that way.

SmartSource Direct, which is accessible online or via iOS or Android apps, is basically a SmartSource storefront, featuring a number of items advertised in that week’s coupon insert.

In two test markets, St. Louis and Columbus, this weekend’s SmartSource insert will feature 18 coupons that can be applied toward SmartSource Direct purchases. Users can scan the offer with their smartphone, and the item will pop up in the SmartSource store with the coupon discount applied. Then you place your order, and wait for it to arrive in the mail. SmartSource plans on rolling out the service nationwide later this year – though anyone can order from the online store, with or without the specially-marked SmartSource coupon inserts.

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“It’s a way for us to extend our printable coupon offerings to e-commerce,” Henri Lellouche, Senior Vice President of SmartSource Digital told Coupons in the News. Companies that advertise and offer coupons in the SmartSource insert would like to make it easy for customers to buy their products. So several of those companies are now paying a little more for the privilege of having their products become e-commerce enabled via SmartSource Direct. If customers know they can get the company’s product from the comfort of their own home, and with the coupon savings applied, that could help the company move more products.

At least that’s the idea.

Of course, buying your groceries online – even with coupons applied – is most likely going to cost more than combining sales and coupons and buying them in an actual store. And selling groceries online has proven to be a challenging business proposition. Many have tried, and many have struggled to make money doing so (read: “Will We Ever Really Order All Our Groceries Online?”). But that hasn’t stopped others from trying. Amazon is giving it a shot (read: “Three Reasons AmazonFresh is Good, and Bad, for Grocery Shoppers”), and so is Google (read: “One Interesting, One Ridiculous Idea for Online Ordering”).

But neither Amazon nor Google will accept manufacturer’s coupons. So could buying products from a coupon provider itself, be the answer? Lellouche said SmartSource has no interest in getting into the grocery business or building warehouses full of food and personal products. It’s simply created a site to showcase its advertisers’ products, and orders are actually fulfilled through the already-established household goods e-commerce site Alice.com. While there are only a handful of coupon-enabled items for sale on SmartSource Direct, the rest of the approximately 5,500 products available are the same as those available on Alice.com – all the better to help boost your SmartSource Direct total beyond the $49 necessary to get free shipping.

SmartSource has been looking for new ways to innovate. It’s been working on a digital version of its newspaper inserts, which it plans to introduce later this year (read: “Sunday Coupon Inserts Are Going Digital”). The old-fashioned paper inserts represent nearly half of parent company News America Marketing’s revenue, with digital lagging far behind. Whatever it takes, then, to extend the brand and stay relevant in this increasingly digital age.

“We’re just trying to determine whether this will resonate,” Lellouche said as SmartSource Direct launches. Many online grocery shoppers don’t mind spending more for their stuff, since they tend to value convenience more than cost. But even for them, having the ability now to use a coupon here and there, surely can’t hurt.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Coupons in the News! SmartSource Wants to Sell You Stuff

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