When Ibotta launched a dozen years ago, it promoted its cash-back offers as being “better than coupons.” Now, many of its offers are coupons.

In the latest evolution of its offering, Ibotta has begun providing its cash-back deals directly to retailers in the form of digital coupons, which can be found in the retailers’ digital coupon galleries.

St. Louis-based Schnucks has become the latest and largest grocery chain to join forces with Ibotta, offering Ibotta deals to its customers not as cash-back alternatives to coupons, but as actual digital coupons. It’s the result of Schnucks joining the Ibotta Performance Network, which Ibotta describes as “the first digital network that delivers promotions in a coordinated fashion across retailer platforms, large third-party publisher sites, and Ibotta” itself.

What it means for Schnucks shoppers is that they’ll no longer need to redeem cash-back offers separately on the Ibotta app. Instead, “Ibotta’s offers will manifest as digital coupons on Schnucks’ properties, providing shoppers value at the time of purchase,” an Ibotta spokesperson told Coupons in the News. “On the back end, Ibotta will manage anti-stacking so that shoppers will not be able to redeem a single offer twice on the same transaction across properties.”

That tracks with Ibotta’s recent efforts to cut down on the practice of combining coupons and cash back. By incorporating its offers into retailers’ own platforms, Ibotta will have greater control over preventing double-dipping. So in the case of Schnucks, shoppers will have a choice – claim an offer in the form of a digital coupon to receive a discount at the checkout, or claim that offer via Ibotta for a cash rebate. Just not both.

Other retailers that joined the Ibotta Performance Network prior to Schnucks are doing things differently. Family Dollar incorporated Ibotta offers into its Smart Coupons digital coupon program at the beginning of April, and delinked from the Ibotta app altogether. “Any future purchases made at Family Dollar after 04/01/24 will be ineligible for Ibotta cash back but will be available for digital savings directly through Family Dollar,” Ibotta explained to users.


That’s also the case with a number of independent grocers whose digital coupon platforms are powered by AppCard, which also recently joined the Ibotta Performance Network. Nine regional grocers, ranging from the 75-store Pittsburgh-based chain Shop ‘N Save to a single Fishers Foods store in Canton, Ohio, were delisted from the Ibotta app back in March. But “some of these retailers are offering the same great content starting on their websites or apps,” Ibotta reassured shoppers – those retailers, so far, being Shop ‘N Save, Homeland and Edwards Food Giant.

While these retailers are the first to offer Ibotta deals in the form of digital coupons, they’re not the first to offer Ibotta deals on their own platforms. It was back in 2018 when Ibotta first began working with Kroger, which incorporated Ibotta offers into its new Cash Back Rewards program. Later, Dollar General introduced DG Cash Back, a similar program featuring Ibotta offers on Dollar General’s savings platform. Both cash-back platforms exist somewhat awkwardly alongside the retailers’ own digital coupon programs – Kroger has two different galleries, one for digital coupons and one for cash back, while Dollar General mixes them all up in a single gallery, each offer individually labeled as “digital coupon” or “cash back.”

Ibotta partner Walmart gets around that problem by not offering digital coupons at all. Its Ibotta-powered Walmart Cash offers shoppers cash back in lieu of a digital coupon program.

For Ibotta’s newest partners, presenting Ibotta offers not as cash back but as digital coupons streamlines and simplifies the process. Shoppers who peruse their favorite store’s website or app looking for savings will no longer have to choose between clipping a coupon or a cash-back offer, and getting a discount at the checkout versus earning cash back. And it’s a model Ibotta may replicate as more retailers join the Ibotta Performance Network.

“At Family Dollar, we are committed to serving our customers through convenience and value. We are always looking for ways to deliver on this,” Family Dollar Chief Marketing Officer Emily Turner said in a statement when the retailer’s new Ibotta partnership was announced. “This new relationship with Ibotta will elevate the value experience and help our customers to do even more with their money.”

As for Ibotta’s newest collaborator, “Schnucks is thrilled to partner with Ibotta, a leader in digital rewards, to expand savings for our customers through our Schnucks Rewards program,” Schnucks Chief Data Officer Tom Henry said in a statement. “Through this partnership, Schnucks customers will have access to a wider range of digital coupons in our Schnucks Rewards program, creating more value for customers with every in-store or online shop. Together with Ibotta, Schnucks is committed to creating innovative retail solutions that will shape the future of grocery shopping.”

If you’re accustomed to clipping coupons before you shop, and then coming home and scanning your receipt for cash-back rewards, the future of grocery shopping may well be different for you, as Ibotta looks to expand its network of retailers and streamline the process of saving. Ibotta used to be “better than coupons” – but shoppers who prefer the simplicity of clipping coupons and one-stop-savings may come to believe that Ibotta’s offers are now “better than cash back.”

Image source: Mockuper

One Comment

  1. If the Ibotta Performance Network expands to the point it’s reducing choice by them being the main provider of savings across many retailers, it may run into a similar fate as Ticketmaster where they are now being sued by the government.

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