The former president of Upromise has taken that company's grocery savings program to a new level with his Waltham, Massachusetts-based venture, SavingStar.com.
SavingStar lets consumers save in two ways. Users can go on the site, register their grocery or drugstore loyalty card, and then review five different categories of products for weekly coupon savings: Food & General Grocery; Health & Personal Care; Beverages; Frozen; and Household. Click to pick the savings on products you want, and the online coupons are registered onto your card.
When you go to make your purchases, simply show your card to collect the savings. With no more paper coupons to stuff in your wallet, the convenience factor is key, not to mention the environmental bonus with the reduction of paper waste.
But here's the kicker: unlike Upromise, which automatically credits your education savings account, you can choose how you'd like to redeem the discounts. Once your SavingStar account reaches a $5 threshold, you can have the payout sent and collected in a bank or PayPal account.
The company offers other options as well, including Amazon.com gift cards or donations to a still-developing list of charities like Americanforests.org. Redemptions for airline miles, hotel points and fuel rewards will be next, said Chief Executive Officer David Rochon.
"We wanted to give consumers a bunch of different options for receiving and redeeming money," Rochon said in an interview. "The whole purpose is to eliminate the wasteful process of paper coupons and allow consumers to have a more green, environmental" option.
Rochon learned from his experience at Upromise that consumers also have the chance to save more using this type of system. The original grocery program at Upromise offered consumers an opportunity to save their pennies with the 1% to 3% taken off of the purchase price. A few years ago, Upromise switched to an eCoupon system, which is now powered by SavingStar, and which allows consumers to get full coupon savings off of their purchases.
Manufacturers have a big incentive to help SavingStar work. The market for the promotion of consumer packaged goods is $9 billion but the inefficiencies, and related costs, in the system are also big. In addition to just the cost of printing and distributing the coupons, many of which just end up in the trash, paper coupons are collected at retailers, transported to a clearinghouse, counted and then sent to a second clearinghouse run by the manufacturer for a recount. Inevitably, things get lost in the shuffle. Other coupon sites that are digital-to-print options might reduce the initial printing and distribution expenses, but still contribute to the shipping and handling costs, Rochon said.
"This has become a better gateway for manufacturers to understand and deliver value to customers and do it without the inefficiency of a shotgun approach," Rochon said. "You can circle the Earth 9.5 times with the paper wasted" from coupons.
SavingStar works with a variety of stores nationwide, a list of which can be found on its site here. Some Massachusetts favorites, like Market Basket, aren't participating in the program because they don"t have a loyalty card. Still, with the use of loyalty/rewards cards growing, SavingStar offers an easy solution for choosing, tracking and collecting savings off even the most basic of purchases.
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