Food 'net work


POSTED: Wednesday, April 15, 2009

You've bought a nifty but expensive personal computer or maybe an iPhone. Your next trick is to make them pay for themselves at the grocery store. One way is to become a browser of online coupons—there are dozens and dozens of Web portals and supermarket sites that boost savings.

Many folks already use the texting function on their phones to create shopping lists. But these online sites can also seek out and print coupons, create lists based on recipes, e-mail alerts or even enter coupon data and rebates onto your supermarket club cards.

Although we're focused on supermarket savings today—because you're hitting the aisles at least a couple times a week—coupon shopping covers the entire range of purchasing options. And remember that the Internet is a fluid, ever-changing medium—the only thing you can count on is supermarkets trying their best to please and keep customers. That means online shopping help—which is different from shopping online, mind you—will grow and change constantly to better serve your needs. Let them know.




Foodland debuts Web site

        The only constant in online service is change. Foodland supermarkets are rolling out their new, redesigned online site at foodland.com today:

“;We know more and more customers these days are looking to receive information online about our Maika'i ads, specials, and promotions, and we want to make our customers' grocery shopping and meal planning as easy as possible,”; said Foodland spokeswoman Sherly Toda. “;Foodland.com has a new look, new format and offers a wide variety of online coupons. Customers to the Web site will continue to see our ads and specials, and be able to create their own grocery shopping lists, access over 64,000 recipes, receive cooking tips and watch cooking videos. This is just the beginning of what we'll be able to do for our customers.”; — Burl Burlingame




Here's a fact, Jack: Two years ago, consumers redeemed about 8 billion coupons—out of 330 billion. That's printed coupons. With online couponing, you only print the coupons you need, and sometimes they only exist in electronic form. You're saving trees!

There are two types of coupons. A “;product”; coupon is for a discount on a specific item, generally offered by manufacturers. A Kellogg's coupon, whether offered by a store or by Kellogg's, gets you a discount only on a Kellogg's item, and the discount could vary by location. This is similar to the circulars printed in newspapers, and many stores simply offer Portable Document Format (pdf) versions of print ads. A “;store”; coupon is for a general discount at a specific location. Smart shoppers use both.

The trick is finding these coupons. Instead of poring through the backsides of receipts and accumulated junk mail, online coupon searching does the work for you. There is a difference between actual coupon sources online and what are called “;referral”; sites, which cleverly keep track of current coupons (all over the country, actually), list and organize them automatically. Whilst browsing for the couple of online coupon sites that work best for you out of the hundreds available, make sure they focus on your favorite merchants and that they're current.

Many sites require downloading specialized “;coupon printer”; software. Make sure it works with your system and that it can be un-installed.

Another issue to keep in mind is privacy. Some sites are set up as “;clubs”; you join, sometimes for a small fee, but they also need information from you for demographic purposes, plus your e-mail address. If you're not willing to provide that information or can set up a blind e-mail address, ponder the potential risks. You're just asking for spam, and not the type in a can. On the other hand, you won't get e-mail coupons and sales information without providing an address.

The good thing about providing such information to a local store is that, just like in the good ol' days, you can always yell at the manager in person.





        Site names for coupon searchers that, this week at least, we were able to confirm are in business:

» www.CentsOff.com
        » www.TheCouponClippers.com
        » www.OnlineCoupons.com
        » www.CoolSavings.com
        » www.SmartSource.com
        » www.SalesCircular.com
        » www.ValPak.com
        » www.CouponMountain.com
        » www.FatWallet.com
        » www.CouponMom.com
» www.SavingsVine.com
        » www.UltimateCoupons.com
        » www.RetailMeNot.com
        » www.DealCatcher.com
        » www.EverSave.com
        » www.CouponSurfer.com