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Verizon debuts coupon service

Verizon has teamed up with mobile couponing firm Cellfire to offer a free digital coupon service that its mobile and Fios TV customers can use in grocery stores.

The program, called “Spend Smart,” lets Verizon customers use mobile coupons in more than 20 grocery chains across the country. Participating stores include Safeway, ShopRite and Kroger.

“Mobile use and coupon use are both on the rise, and this initiative marries both of these trends by offering a solution for customers right on their device,” said Karen Meleta, VP of corporate communications at ShopRite. “It is a time-saver for them.”

Consumers can pre-select the coupons they want on their mobile phones, on a Verizon microsite, www.vzspendsmart.com, or on Fios TV’s Widget Bazaar Applications Marketplace. Consumers must also register their loyalty club numbers from participating grocery stores to their Verizon Spend Smart account, tying the effort to the grocery stores’ loyalty programs. The saved coupons will be applied to consumers’ purchases when they enter their loyalty numbers at the point of purchase.

“Americans redeem coupons,” said Richard Williams, executive director for digital media operations at Verizon Wireless. “We realized there was an opportunity to tie this to the mobile handset. ”

Cellfire first began working with Safeway last summer on digital coupon efforts for the chain, making it one of the first to offer a mobile loyalty program.Kroger began working with Cellfire for mobile coupons in 2008.

ShopRite is promoting the service on its Facebook page and through its e-mail list. Meleta said using mobile coupons is a natural transition for the company’s customers.

“The mobile device is something they are comfortable with, and using coupons is familiar, so it is easy to educate consumers,” she said.

The brands and products that the coupons correspond to rotate every two weeks, across all grocery categories. l

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