This is more convenient than online coupons that need to be downloaded and printed -- and it doesn't require customers to have an iPhone, as other schemes do.
It does require some advance planning -- customers have to go online before shopping and choose the coupons they want to use. The coupons they select are loaded onto their loyalty card, and then when they go to the store and purchase these items, the savings are automatically counted when the card is swiped.
A&P, The Food Emporium, Super Fresh and Waldbaum's just launched this option in the Northeast. Companies have been experimenting with different ways of providing coupons for awhile now, wrestling with problems of convenience, access and fraud prevention. Some Stop & Shop locations use an in-store "Scan It" device that rings up items and automatically offers coupons while customers shop.
Related Stories on BNET Food: E-Coupon Trend on the Rise