SAN FRANCISCO — Procter & Gamble is partnering with technology company Mobeam to bring the first-ever fully mobile couponing system to market.
The innovation, created by mobeam of California, makes electronic coupons presented on a phone or other mobile device scannable, so shoppers need only their phones or handhelds, not a stack of coupons, at checkout.
Couponing represents a growing $3.7 billion segment of the consumer packaged goods market in North America, with more than 300 billion coupons distributed every year and redemption on the increase as consumers strive for greater value and savings. And while smartphones are supporting users and simplifying life in a host of new ways, until now, phone couponing has not been an option because bar codes displayed on mobile phone screens are invisible to commonly used in-store laser scanners.
Mobeam technology converts — or mobeams — the bar code data into a beam of light that can be read by bar code scanners already found at store checkout counters. No additional point-of-sale equipment is needed.
P&G developed a partnership with mobeam through P&G’s open innovation Connect+Develop program. The P&G and mobeam partnership is aimed at exploring and testing a new method for consumers to redeem — and retailers to accept — coupons at the point of sale.
The next step in the partnership is to work with the mobile communications industry to add the mobeam application into handheld phones and then to test the application and process with shoppers and selected retailers.
Mobeam is working with handset manufacturers to engineer its light-based communications technology into new lines of handsets. P&G, mobeam and other partners expect to test the technology in market in 2012.