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Target debuts first nationwide mobile bar code coupon program

March 11, 2010

Target is letting consumers redeem coupons by scanning a mobile bar code at check-out

Target is letting consumers redeem coupons by scanning a mobile bar code at check-out

Target has launched a nationwide mobile couponing initiative that lets consumers redeem discount offers by scanning a 2D bar code at the point of sale.

The retail giant claims that this is the first program of its kind that is available across the entire United States. Target believes that mobile couponing will be a competitive advantage for its brand.

“At Target, we know that our guests are relying more and more on mobile devices, so we’re providing convenient, on-the-go mobile solutions for our guests,” said Leah Guimond, spokeswoman for Target, Minneapolis, MN. “Target is the first national retailer to offer a scannable mobile coupon program that allows guests to receive exclusive offers directly on their mobile phones.

“Coupons are redeemed by scanning a barcode on the phone at checkout,” she said. “Mobile coupons are available to our guests right now.”

Target’s mobile coupons are available on any phone with a Web browser that has access to text messaging and data.

Currently, there is not a mobile application available for Target’s mobile coupon program.

Consumers can opt-in to the program on their PC at, on their phone at or by texting the keyword COUPONS to the short code 827438 (TARGET).

Target mobile coupons from Kraft and Planters

Target mobile coupons from Kraft and Planters

After opt-in, guests receive a text message with a link to a mobile Web page that contains multiple offers, all accessible through a single bar code.

Offers are single-use and expire on the date listed. New offers are sent each month as the previous offers expire.

This is not a regional pilot—Target is rolling out mobile couponing nationwide.

“Target is the first to have the ability to scan a bar code directly from a mobile device at any store nationwide,” Ms. Guimond said.

In addition to using the new mobile coupons, Target guests can access their Target Mobile GiftCards, view online assortments, check product availability and store locations, manage their Target gift registry and lists, browse the weekly ad, and receive text and email notifications of great deals, all via their mobile phones.

Mobile coupons are heating up
Other retailers have tested mobile bar code coupons, although none other than Target has rolled out the initiative nationwide.

Last year J. C. Penney Co. Inc. began letting shoppers ring up savings at the register using their mobile phones with a 2D-bar-code coupon program.

JCPenney customers at 16 Houston stores can download and carry coupons on their mobile phones that can be scanned directly from the phone’s display screen at the point of sale.

The retail giant tapped Cellfire for the initiative (see story).

“Mobile coupons let retails reach their customer segments that are inclined to use permission-based, interactive channels, like mobile, versus traditional vehicles like newspapers and direct mail,” said Dan Kihanya, vice president of consumer marketing at Cellfire, San Jose, CA.

“Mobile provides convenience to shoppers who can have their coupons with them when they need them—without having to remember to bring paper,” he said. “Since mobile is interactive and digital, it can be targeted and more relevant.

“Finally, the location context of mobile means retailers can present offers that are most relevant when a customer is going to be or is nearby.”

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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