Somerfield to test SMS coupon system

Somerfield claims it will be the first UK retailer to allow customers to redeem coupons they have received via SMS on their mobiles when a trial begins next month.

The service will be operated by mobile marketing company 12Snap, which expects to have 12 retailers, including bookseller Blackwell's and possibly entertainment business HMV, trialling the service by the end of the year.

The three-month Somerfield trial will involve 20 stores and will be expanded to include the company's entire estate if successful. Customers that join the scheme will be stored in the 12Snap database and receive relevant offers from a variety of well-known brands that the company hopes to sign up to participate in the trial.

12Snap sales director Matt Cotton said: 'With the trial we'll work through various products and brands. Both the retailers and the brands like it as they can see market share possibly shifting because of this.'

The barcode is sent within a standard SMS message to the customer's mobile phone and simply scanned in at the checkout, where the relevant amount is deducted from their bill. Previous SMS-based marketing offers undertaken by other retailers and shopping centres have involved messages that the customer then has to show in the relevant store to get their discount.

Rivals Tesco and Sainsbury's have already used SMS marketing techniques.