UPDATE: Food Lion Adds CoolSavings' Grocery Solutions Network to Its Online Coupon Offerings

SALISBURY, N.C. - Food Lion Supermarkets has signed a partnership agreement with Chicago-based CoolSavings, Inc., an online direct marketing and media company, to join the latter's Grocery Solutions Network, an Internet-based distribution network for printable and electronic coupons, as well as requested product samples.

As a part of the CoolSavings Marketing Network, the Grocery Solutions Network enables participating retailers to provide secure, targeted, and personalized printable and electronic coupons through their branded Web sites and frequent shopper cards. Using CoolSavings' technology, visitors to the Food Lion Web site (www.FoodLion.com) can select coupons from top brands, which they can then print out and redeem at their local Food Lion grocery store. "The goal in adding CoolSavings to our offering is to have all of the leading coupon suppliers conveniently located in one place on our Web site for our valued customers to peruse," Bill Thomas, director of marketing at Food Lion, told Progressive Grocer in an interview.

The new agreement will bring the number of participating stores in the CoolSavings' Grocery Solutions Network to nearly 4,000. Other network partners include Kroger, Giant Eagle, Meijer, and Piggly Wiggly.

Food Lion currently operates more than 1,200 stores in 11 Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states. "Part of our strategic plan is to find better ways to serve customers by giving them the right mix of merchandise and offers," said Bill Thomas, director of marketing at Food Lion. "We pride ourselves on being responsive to customer lifestyle changes, and we know that the Internet is growing in importance in their lives. We are pleased to be able to make Internet couponing available to them."

Although online coupon fraud has been a concern to many retailers (see "Coupon COntroversy," Progressive Grocer, November 1, 2003, Thomas said that customer convenience takes priority: "Our goal is to make FoodLion.com the place our customers "stop by" before shopping," he said. "While we are always conscious of fraud possibilities, we have not seen an unusually large amount of fraud on the e-coupons. Adding convenience for our customers is our primary goal."

The Grocery Solutions Network is a part of the broader CoolSavings Marketing Network (CSMN), a targeted marketing and promotions network that enables marketers to take advantage of sophisticated targeting and modeling to deliver printed and paperless coupons, qualified leads, samples, and trial offers to millions of active consumers. CSMN's broad range of distribution partners include major portals, content sites, newspaper sites, and grocery retailers such as America Online, iVillage, About.com, Better Homes & Gardens, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the Kroger Co.

In addition to Coolsavings, Food Lion also partners with two other online coupon solution providers, ValuPage and SmartSource. ValuPage, which is owned and operated by St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Catalina Marketing Corp., is an online system that allows manufacturers to offer promotions and incentives via the Internet. It provides a secure method of delivering coupons by printing Web Bucks at the point of sale after the Catalina Marketing Network has verified the purchase of participating products. Consumers can also receive ValuPage via e-mail, which can be targeted based on customer purchase preferences.

The SmartSource Savings Network, which is part of News America Marketing –- a subsidiary of News Corp. in New York, comprises grocery and retail chains, newspapers, lifestyle Web sites, interactive companies, and other partners dedicated to delivering customer savings through targeted media. SmartSource coupons are available exclusively online throughout the SmartSource Savings Network.
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