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Over the last two weeks Kroger corporate has been rolling out some big changes in their computer system and coupon policy.
The first change:
You can no longer use an eCoupon with a paper coupon.
This was already part of their policy for coupons loaded from Kroger.com and P&G eCoupons, but is new for Cellfire and Shortcut eCoupon users. In the past you were to patrol yourself and just try to not use them together, but now the computer will stop any paper coupon from being used if an eCoupon has already been applied.
How does this affect you?
There are two traits of an eCoupon that make this a very BAD thing:
- They don’t double.
- Once loaded to your card they are coming off whether you want to use it or not.
Because electronic coupons do not double, you are going to find paper coupons that are much higher values or would be better after the coupon doubles. So… I would recommend only loading eCoupons to your card that you KNOW you want and will use. If you load a lot to your card and then find a paper coupon, your eCoupon will be accepted while your paper coupon is turned away.
Remember only coupons loaded from Kroger.com can be removed from your card before shopping. All other eCoupons will either come off when you use them or when they expire.
One way to keep using eCoupons, is just to have them as a backup if you want to buy more of an item than you have paper coupons for. In other words you want 3 boxes of cereal but only have 2 paper coupons, then load the eCoupon so that you have a coupon for the third box.
The Second Change:
Kroger stores in the Houston, TX area will no longer be doubling and tripling coupons as of April 13, 2011. They are citing that is because traditional coupon use is on the decline and digital coupons are increasing.
Sadly that is not what is happening but is what Kroger wants to be happening. According the national coupon trends for 2010 released two months ago 3.7 billion dollars were saved using coupons in 2010 and 87.7% of those coupons came from the Sunday paper (ahem… not digital).
Will we see this in other areas?
For everyone that is worried that the sky is falling, this second change is just in the Houston market. The main reason why, because a majority of the stores in the Houston market (namely H-E-B) already don’t double coupons. So Kroger feels little need to compete for your business with that policy.
I can’t pretend to know what Kroger corporate has up their sleeve, but I would tell you from a retail and marketing standpoint I hope they are wise enough to not take this corporate wide. In most areas of the South East Kroger has a strong market competition from Publix, Bi-Lo, and Winn Dixie. Most of these stores double coupons every day of the week, so making a policy change like that in a competitive market is not likely.
For everyone though, this is not the end of digital coupons for us… I have exciting news to share with you but it’s still two weeks away. So tune back in on or around April 19th for something that is going to make digital coupons exciting again and that can be used at a lot more places than Kroger!