May 14, 2003, 12:00 AM

Coupons.com guarantees delivery of online coupons

Coupons.com is out to serve the 5-10% of consumers that can`t use coupons offered online because they have no way to print them. Its service is also being used in mall kiosks as an incentive to get shoppers` mailing addresses.

Noting that 5-10% of consumers can`t use coupons offered online because they have no way to print them, Coupons Inc.`s Coupons.com is rolling a new service later this month that will guarantee delivery of its clients` coupons through regular mail if the online option doesn`t work.

"When consumers go to print a coupon, we can detect if they`re having a problem," CEO Steven Boal tells InternetRetailer.com. "A form then comes up automatically on their screen where they can enter their information, and within 48 hours a full-color coupon comes out of our printing facility and is mailed out. The consumer gets it within five days."

Coupons has tested the system for the past three months with 7 companies who sell online to consumers, and so far they`ve all opted to continue with the service, Boal says. The service is most popular with consumer goods manufacturers, though Coupons counts RadioShack Corp. and other retailers among its clients. He says the service improves the customer experience for shoppers who either have a non-functioning printer or use web TV or mobile devices that don`t have an attached printing function.

It can also improve call center operations, he adds, because it can prevent irate customers from calling a coupon sponsor`s customer service department. The average cost of sending a paper coupon directly from a customer service center is about $3.50, compared to $1.25 for Coupons, Boal says.

Coupons also offers its client the option of coordinating the pop-up coupon mailing offer with a pop-up trouble-shooting guide that can help an online shopper fix a non-working printer before requesting a mailed coupon.

In addition to supporting coupons offered on manufacturers` and retailers` web sites, the Coupons.com service is also being offered through kiosks placed in shopping malls by local retailers and mall operators, Boal says. In this case, coupons are used to entice shoppers to fill out a marketing questionnaire with their home address and e-mail address to support further direct marketing campaigns.

Boal notes that the online coupon printing and mailing service is designed so that consumers are unable to receive both a printed and mailed coupon.

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