CINCINNATI -- Coin-counting kiosks in the Columbus, Ohio Kroger Marketing Area of Kroger Co. here will add coupon dispensing to their functions when a 90-day pilot program begins next month.
Customers who bring $10 or more in coins to the self-service kiosks will be eligible to receive ValuPage coupons, distributed through SuperMarkets Online, a division of Catalina Marketing Corp., St. Petersburg, Fla.
Kroger confirmed that the pilot would take place, but spokesman Paul Bernish declined to provide further details.
"This is the first time these coupons have been delivered via another method than the Web," said Will Gardenswartz, vice president of marketing and business development at SuperMarkets Online. "There's a whole universe of folks that may not be on the Internet and, with coupons, you can't have enough reach."
SuperMarkets Online will be measuring both participation and redemption rates during the pilot program, he added, and plans to expand the program to supermarkets in another geographic market later this fall.
The ValuPage coupons have been available on the Internet, at www.supermarketsonline.com, through retailers nationally, including various Kroger divisions, since February.
The ValuPage program offers customers discounts on their next shopping trip when they purchase featured products. Customers choose their desired incentives, then print out the page. A bar code at the top of the printed strip issued by the coin kiosk is scanned at the supermarket's point of sale.
The bar code triggers the Catalina printer, housed at the POS, to produce a "Web Buck" certificate for the amount redeemed during the visit. This certificate can be used during the customer's next shopping trip.
The Web page has been averaging 2 million visitors per month, according to Gardenswartz. "Of that group, about 1 million will print a ValuPage, and we know we'll sell 200,000 products out of that," he said.
SuperMarkets Online recently announced that it would link the coupon program to individual retailers' frequent-shopper programs, allowing for more targeted offers based on customers' shopping histories. Retailers participating in this program include A&P, Montvale, N.J.; Jewel Osco, Chicago, a division of American Stores, Salt Lake City; Ralphs Grocery Co., Compton, Calif.; Giant Eagle, Pittsburgh; and Grand Union Co., Wayne, N.J.
The coin kiosks, from Coinstar, Bellevue, Wash., "are really a sophisticated interactive platform, and they're an established part of the landscape in supermarkets throughout the nation," said David Rochon, president of SuperMarkets Online, in a statement. Coinstar's network includes more than 4,200 kiosks.