Coupons often become required shopping tools when the economy is tough, and online the prognosis is no different. Over the past year, online and mobile shoppers have increasing relied on coupons during the purchasing process. And now mobile answer service ChaCha is joining the pack.
ChaCha got its start answering questions online and via text with real live humans. The couponing service will now let consumers access coupon deals both online and in the mobile arena. According to ChaCha CEO Scott Jones:
"The logical extension of this is to point our users to the best local deals that our advertisers offer. We can make this match in a unique way, and are focused on delivering real value today to both users and advertisers."
Like most online coupon services, visitors can print coupons at a desktop or send them to their mobile phones. They can also send a coupon via text message to a ChaCha in-store coupon printer.
Users can also choose to join an advertiser's "VIP List" by either text or online at ChaChaCoupons, giving local businesses a way to build their loyal customer base.
The company says that coupon redemption is up 23% in the first half of this year. And other data concurs that coupons have skyrocketed as the economy has plummeted. RetailMeNot released its second annual survey on consumer coupon behavior this week, and found that while 45% of respondents plan to spend less this holiday season, 62% of online adults look for coupons online and 12% never make a purchase without checking an online coupon website first. That's an 8% jump from last year. Patricio wrote today on Econsultancy about Ask.com's endeavor into the discount shopping space.
But it's not all rosy purveyors. According to MediaPost, however:
"Antiquated point-of-sale (POS) hardware and software, integration issues into backend IT infrastructures, and lack of buy-in from CIOs who approve budgets continue to keep some brands from offering mobile coupons."
ChaCha coupons that need to get printed in store may just fit that bill. Another curious part of ChaCha's coupon endeavor is that this launch appears to be solely in Indianapolis. If it goes well, one would assume that ChaCha will expand its coupon base to other cities.
And Jones says that it's started strong. All ChaChaCoupons.com ad banner positions and the home page preferred listings have been sold out for the first week one of the new offerings. The new coupon site is alsolinked to www.ChaCha.com, which has over 6.5 million monthly visitors.