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    Kroger in Deal with AOL for Online Coupons Tied to Loyalty

    General Mills, Kimberly-Clark, and Kraft are the first CPG partners to sign on for the new service.

    The Kroger Co. is the first retail partner to endorse Shortcuts a new service for paperless coupons from AOL that links to customers' loyalty cards.

    General Mills, Kimberly-Clark, and Kraft are the first partners to sign on to participate with coupons for their consumer brands.

    Starting today, Kroger shoppers can visit www.shortcuts.com to set up an account using the store loyalty card they use at any of Cincinnati-based Kroger's banners. Then they search the Shortcuts online coupon service by brand, product, or category, and click on grocery coupons they want to add to their card. When the consumers shop for groceries, they scan their loyalty card at checkout and the coupons are automatically applied to their purchases.

    For consumers who rely on paper coupons to help them make purchasing decisions, Shortcuts allows shoppers to print out a sorted list of "clicked" coupons to take to the grocery store. Shoppers can review their savings immediately on the register receipt as well as online at www.shortcuts.com. Users can also choose to receive e-mail alerts detailing coupons redeemed, savings to-date, and the value of coupons remaining on their loyalty card.

    "We're always looking for new and innovative ways to build customer loyalty, and saw the Shortcuts program as another way of helping us to do so," said Ken Fenyo, Kroger's v.p. of corporate loyalty, in a statement. "Shoppers are spending more time online and are always looking for ways to save money and save time. Shortcuts is a perfect fit, and we're excited to work together to launch this program."

    Kroger operates 2,487 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states under two dozen local banners, including Kroger, Ralphs, Fred Meyer, Food 4 Less, Fry's, King Soopers, Smith's, Dillons, QFC, and City Market.

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