Mobile applications and digital offerings. Both were common themes shared by retailers and manufactures alike at the 2012 Food Marketing Institute trade show this month in Dallas, TX.  Corresponding with another common theme outlined by Chain Store Guide this year, marketers are going to great lengths to enhance the customer experience and ultimately drive sales.

This summer, Lakeland, FL-based Publix Super Markets will test a digital couponing initiative that could change the way grocery shoppers get discounts. The system (in its test phase) works as customers go online to a coupon publisher or and set up a distinct membership code or Publix ID.  From there, the customer can choose which coupons to ‘clip’ and they would be uploaded into an account. At the checkout counter the customer enters their phone number into the credit swipe machine. The register reads the uploaded coupons on the account that corresponds with the purchased products and automatically deducts the savings.

The program could be especially beneficial to mobile users, working in real-time as they shop grocery aisles and get coupons using this program right from their handheld device.  While there’s no indication that this new initiative will be rolled out across all Publix stores, the concept is somewhat new to the industry and certainly one to take notice of.  Retailers and manufacturers – as well as the coupon publishers – relish new digital systems such as this.  The main benefit is efficiency as the digital coupons are customized by the individual user and obviously do not have to be printed on actual paper.

Other retailers, such as Winn-Dixie and CVS, have been using loyalty cards to distribute coupons based on customer purchasing data for years. Digital couponing, however, helps to reduce fraud and takes consumer purchasing data to a new level of collection.