GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Despite incidents of Internet coupon fraud in some markets this year, Meijer here has been actively featuring coupons on its Web site as part of its online marketing program.
"We are not afraid of fraud," said Dawn Bronkema, CRM project specialist for Meijer. "We are out there promoting the use of online coupons for our guests." (Guest is Meijer's term for shopper.)
Bronkema made these comments at GEMCON (Global Electronic Marketing Conference) 2003, which took place in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., last month. The conference was sponsored by Retail Systems Consulting, Naples, Fla.
Meijer has not experienced any instances of Internet coupon fraud itself, Bronkema said. Retailers in several markets, notably Atlanta, were hit by a wave of fraudulent coupons obtained through the Internet, prompting several, including Publix and Harris Teeter, to discontinue accepting Internet coupons.
Meijer launched its Web site coupon program in March, based on technology supplied by CoolSavings, Chicago. To prevent shoppers from reproducing the online coupons, the system doesn't show the physical coupon on-screen, Bronkema noted, adding that shoppers check a box next to an offer and the system sends the coupon to be printed. Meijer's site also offers ValuPage Web bucks from Catalina Marketing, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Bronkema said that online coupons "add stickiness to our site," drawing shoppers back repeatedly. "We get numerous e-mails asking when we're putting the next coupons up. They really want them from us."
In addition to coupons, Meijer has introduced several other features to its Web site this year, including a charity-based loyalty program launched in August, and a private-label credit card in February. Other recent additions include a baby club, Upromise savings for college tuition, and the My Meijer online profile.
My Meijer allows shoppers to see "everything we know about them," said Bronkema. "They can go in at any time, and modify information. It creates a huge trust level with our guests."
Shoppers who register at My Meijer can receive weekly e-mails announcing ad specials, CoolSavings coupons, and special offers for subscribers. Baby club members can receive offers about once a month. In either case, Meijer's "cardinal rule" is to make e-mail messages 100% opt-in, said Bronkema.
Meijer is striving to make the Web site more personalized to each shopper. "Consumers are demanding personalization from us," Bronkema said. "They want us to know who they are and react to who they are."
In addition to contributing to in-store sales, marketing and personalization on the Web are "setting the stage" for "advancements we are making in-store at our POS and customer service desk," and serve as an "incubator" for in-store programs, she added.