May 29, 2008, 12:00 AM

Mall shoppers leave their coupons at home with text message discounts

An Arizona-based shopping center’s touch-screen kiosks offer a 10% off coupon for a mall pizzeria. Shoppers obtain and redeem the coupon via text messages.

Retailers and restaurants can run coupons in local newspapers to try and pull more consumers in. With mobile technology, they can do the same not just when consumers are at home or the office but when they are standing near the store. What’s more, with mobile coupons shoppers don’t have to cut coupons out of papers and remember to bring them along.

A pizzeria at Mesa Riverview shopping center in Meza, AZ, recently decided to be the first in the mall to take part in a new program involving touch-screen kiosk and text messaging technology. Shoppers that use one of the four interactive media kiosks in the mall see on the home page a list of the top 10 promotions at mall stores and restaurants. One of them is a coupon for 10% off the tab at the pizzeria, a coupon also advertised on 26 digital displays throughout the mall.

To get the coupon, shoppers send a text message to a short code, an abbreviated phone number registered with telecommunications carriers, shown on screen. The combined technology, operated by vendor Aerva, immediately sends a text message back to the shopper containing a coupon ID number and brief content from the restaurant. The shopper presents the coupon ID number to the restaurant cashier to receive a discount.

Aerva says early results are promising, and adds the coupon is popular with the younger crowd at the pizzeria. “The younger demographic frequents the establishment,” says Sanjay Manandhar, chief technology officer at Aerva. “They do not want to carry a piece of paper around that they cut out of a newspaper at home.”

Aerva says some of the mall’s retail stores are in talks to offer coupons via the m-commerce technology and soon may be on board for the new program.

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