I’ve tried the whole couponing thing; really, I have. The last time I was home visiting family, my sister-in-law and mom sat me down and tried to explain the wonders of couponing to me. They told me about all the money they have saved on clothes and other retail goods. They proudly whipped out their behemoth coupon files, stuffed to the hilt with the promises of pennies saved.
I just couldn’t get into it. It’s not that I couldn’t use the savings — between having a husband in graduate school and living in an uber-expensive part of the country, saving money is important to me, even if it’s only on a piece of clothing now and then. But, becoming a coupon warrior just seems like it would take too much time and effort, and the few coupons I do clip usually end up expiring before I discover them at the bottom of my purse.
Then, I found out about SnipSnap. Launched at TechCrunch Disrupt in May, 2012, SnipSnap’s iOS and Android apps recently hit the 1 million user mark, so the company must be onto something. Users have already “snipped” a combined 20 million coupons, which adds up to quite a bit of savings — $78 million, to be exact.
SnipSnap is designed to support retailer coupons, and it works well at most national retailers and restaurants. All you have to do is snap a photo of the coupon you’d like to use, and SnipSnap translates all the text, images, logos, and barcodes into a digital version you can use in the store. No more scissors and stuffing little pieces of paper into your wallet, purse, and pockets.
“When SnipSnap launched, I didn’t see it as more than a simple life hack — It was just a way to save your coupons to your smartphone by snapping a photo of them. Sort of like CardMuch meets RetailMeNot,” says Ted Mann, CEO and founder of SnipSnap. “But now, a year later, the app that we created off that concept has spawned into nothing less than a movement of DIY mobile couponers.”
But, why not just continue clipping coupons as usual? Mann believes SnipSnap’s paper predecessors fall short. “These coupons are issued by manufacturers to be redeemed at grocery and convenience stores,” he says. “The stores need a physical copy of the coupon to get reimbursed. We’re working on a breakthrough method to allow you to link these coupons to your loyalty card, effectively replacing the physical receivable with an API call.”
All the snipping is creating a powerful database, too. According to Mann, SnipSnap is likely creating the largest database of structured coupon content in North America, with almost 850,000 original offers. Each time a user submits a photo of a coupon, SnipSnap parses all of the fine-print data into the correct fields.
SnipSnap is also creating a wealth of data on customer behavior. Retailers can learn by studying which coupons users choose to redeem — and which ones they ignore. SnipSnap tracks location, proximity to shopping venues, and social connections so that retailers can target users with recommended offers.
The SnipSnap model is working quite well so far. “For the top 10 biggest retailers, we see a success rating between 75-95 percent,” says Mann. “We’d like that to be 100 percent, of course, but then most coupons rarely work 100 percent of the time. We’re working to create rules to make sure that poor performing coupons or ones with a lot of restrictions and de-prioritized or hidden. The one type of coupon that does not work right now at all are manufacturer coupons.”
SnipSnap currently works directly with retailers such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Toys R Us, Advance Auto Parts, Sears, Kmart, and Aeropostale. Mann and his team have even more in store for users in the near future. “We will be launching a tool to allow retailers to mobilize any coupon content and embed a save-to-wallet widget in any email, SMS, or web coupon,” he says. “Allowing you to save to Passbook, Google Wallet and SnipSnap with one click. Sort of a ShareThis for mobile coupons. We’re piloting this tool, Mobile Coupon Author, with three retailers, and looking for more to join the pilot.”
You can check out SnipSnap for yourself on their website to see how much money you can save. Next time I visit my family, I’ll be telling them how to get their coupon on!