Coupons and cutting edge e-commerce meet in St. Louis and Columbus

St. Louis and Columbus, Ohio, are ground zero for a new initiative from News America Marketing that blends e-commerce with the traditional free-standing insert.

The coupon publisher chose St. Louis and Columbus as test markets to pilot a program called SmartSource Direct, which it contends merges print coupon savings and e-commerce like never before. The initiative consists of an e-commerce site, smartsourcedirect.com, as well as an iPhone and Android app. From these touch points, consumers can browse and shop for approximately 5,500 products available in the SmartSource Direct store, according to the company.

SmartSource Direct, which derives its names from the company’s flagship SmartSource branded coupon insert, is said to be the first e-commerce platform to offer shoppers the ability to directly apply print coupons found in the free standing insert SmartSource magazine, against online purchases. The pilot program begins on June 30 and is slated for a national roll out later in the year.

“E-commerce is a major growth area for our clients, who have expressed a need for us to make our coupons available for online purchases in the simplest, freshest way,” said Henri Lellouche VP of digital for News America Marketing. “As our existing businesses continue to thrive, this merging of print and online savings has the potential to be one of the most innovative programs in our company’s history.”

In addition, the SmartSource Direct smartphone app incorporates image recognition technology that allows consumers to “scan” SmartSource Direct-enabled coupon pages published in the Sunday FSI with their smartphone, and apply those savings to purchases made through the app.  Eighteen of the coupons in the June 30 special issue of SmartSource Magazine will be enabled for this purpose. Consumers don’t have to clip any coupons or download a bar code scanner. The application recognizes the coupon page simply using the phone’s camera.