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P&G Clears Plan for Mobile Coupons


Last updated on August 16th, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G) is partnering with mobeam inc. to bring the first fully mobile couponing system to market. The innovation, created by mobeam of California, makes electronic coupons presented on a phone or other mobile device scannable, so shoppers need only their phones/handhelds, not a stack of coupons, at check out.

Today, couponing represents a growing $3.7 billion segment of the consumer packaged goods (CPG) market in North America, with more than 300 billion coupons distributed every year and redemption on the increase as consumers strive for greater value and savings, according to a P&G Co. news release. And while smartphones are supporting users and simplifying life in a host of new ways, until now, phone couponing has not been an option because barcodes displayed on mobile phone screens are invisible to commonly used in-store laser scanners.

Mobeam technology converts—or mobeams—the barcode data into a beam of light that can be read by barcode scanners already found at store checkout counters. No additional point of sale (POS) equipment is needed.

”As impossible as it seems, even to technologists in the mobile industry, a vividly displayed barcode cannot be read by the typical barcode scanner,” said Nick Holland, senior analyst with Yankee Group. “The inability for a red laser scanner to read information displayed on a smartphone is not a small problem. This limiting factor is stalling important innovation as the retail industry is stuck waiting for next generation mobile technology to go mainstream. The mobeam beaming solution eloquently fixes this problem, enabling current generation mobile devices to interface with legacy red laser barcode scanners.”

P&G, one of the world’s leading coupon distributors, developed a partnership with mobeam through P&G’s open innovation Connect+Develop program, designed to bring leading innovation into P&G and share P&G innovation with others. The P&G and mobeam partnership is aimed at exploring and testing a new, highly efficient method for consumers to redeem—and retailers to accept—coupons at the point of sale, the news release says.

“Our vision with P&G is for the mobeam technology to be used and leveraged broadly by many leading CPG companies, with P&G and other key consumer goods partners as first adopters,” said mobeam CEO Christopher Sellers.

The next step in the partnership is to work with the mobile communications industry to add the mobeam application into handheld phones and then to test the application and process with shoppers and selected retailers, the news release continues.

”We are excited about the potential for this new technology and our partnership with mobeam to make shopping simpler and faster for consumers. Couponing is a great way for shoppers to try new products or save on the trusted brands their families have come to love. If that can be easier, faster and less costly for shoppers and retailers, we want to help bring it to life,” said Jeff Weedman, VP of P&G Global Business Development.

Mobeam is working with handset manufacturers to engineer its light-based communications technology into new lines of handsets. P&G, mobeam and other partners expect to test the technology in market in 2012.

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