April 28, 2014, 4:08 PM

Walgreen makes it easier for shoppers to redeem digital coupons

The drugstore chain has rolled out digital coupons technology from Coupons.com across all its stores and online. A shopper can ‘clip’ a coupon on the web or in the Walgreen mobile app, and the offer automatically loads to her Balance Rewards account.

Lead Photo

A screenshot of the digital coupon-clipping feature on Walgreen's iPhone app

Drugstore chain Walgreen Co. has introduced a new way for shoppers to grab and use digital coupons, aiming to minimize the hassle of redeeming coupons.

In January, the retailer began rolling out new technology from digital promotions platform Coupons.com Inc., called Retailer iQ, that enables a customer to “clip” digital offers from Walgreens.com or within its mobile app, saving them to her Balance Rewards loyalty account. When she presents her Balance Rewards card at the register (she may also present the bar code via her mobile app or give her phone number to look up the account), any applicable offers are automatically redeemed.

Along with digital coupons, Retailer iQ lets Walgreen send shoppers digital receipts via e-mail rather than printing receipts at the register. If a shopper choses that option, she can click through the e-mail to add any coupons attached to the receipt—which would have otherwise printed out in a long reel behind the paper list of her purchases—to add them to her Balance Rewards account.

The technology is now available in all of Walgreen’s more than 8,000 stores nationwide, says Rich Lesperance, the retailer’s senior director of personalization and customer relationship management. Walgreen made it a priority after customer feedback from its mobile app users—more than 40% of whom use the Walgreen mobile app in stores—made accessing store coupons on mobile devices their No. 1 request, he says. Customers who use the retailer’s mobile app and web site in addition to shopping in stores spend six times as much as customers who shop only in stores, he adds.

The new system is more convenient for Walgreens shoppers than keeping track of various paper and digital offers separately. “Customers can clip from any device they choose, or from multiple devices, and their list of coupons is always up to date,” including if they clip while standing in line to check out in a store, he says. Inside their Balance Rewards account, accessible on the web or via the mobile app, customers can also sort offers by product category or expiration date.

The drugstore chain’s previous mobile technology allowed a customer to store coupons on her smartphone, but she still had to scroll through them one by one in a store for the cashier to scan and apply the discounts. With the new system, all her applicable offers are redeemed at once when she uses her Balance Rewards card, which lets her check out more quickly, Lesperance says.

“This technology pushes crumpled, indecipherable receipts and irrelevant coupons into the digital era,” says Steven Boal, CEO and founder of Coupons.com. “We spent three years building it and we’re proud to be working with Walgreens and our other brand and retailer partners to lead the future of promotions.”

Lesperance declines to say exactly how much Walgreen pays for the Retailer iQ technology, but says it’s “really critical” to the drugstore chain’s omnichannel selling plans. “It’s about strategic fit and long-term value as much as looking at short-term cost-benefit,” he says.

Walgreen is No. 43 in the 2014 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, which ranks U.S. retailers by their annual web sales.

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