Make us your home page
On Retail

Gadget can store dozens of reward cards and coupons

Wallet perpetually jammed with little paper coupons, receipts and a fistful of plastic store loyalty cards? Fear not. Silicon Valley gadgetmakers are on the case.

New tech applications marketed to store executives at the National Retail Federation convention in New York this week include digital receipts and Ecrio's MoBeam master key ring remote that resembles a garage door opener filled with reward card numbers and downloaded electronic coupons.

Just point and click one of the 80 stored card numbers or coupon codes at a checkout laser scanner and you're on your way. AllElectronic Systems' digital receipts are not e-mailed like those from the Apple Store. Rather, all your receipts are stored in a secure Web site like an online banking account, so there's no fumbling around to retrieve proof of purchase for returns or extended-warranty toll-free numbers.

The average consumer wallet today is stuffed with six reward cards and four coupons.

Who's going to pay for gadgets to save all that paper, plastic and printer ink is the unanswered question. The retail price of a MoBeam would be about $20, possibly a nice come-on to sign up for a loyalty card.

• • •

Here's another measure of just how far easy credit the past few years pushed the consumer spending binge well beyond many Americans' means.

In 1983, consumer spending was 63 percent of the economy. In 2008 it peaked at 72 percent. Deloitte Research estimates the recession and increased government spending will beat consumer spending back down to 66 percent of gross domestic product by 2010.

• • •

Martin Lindstrom, the British author who puts consumers in an MRI and measures the brain's emotional reactions to advertising, confirmed that some iconic brand logos are so embedded that consumers subconsciously recognize them even when they're not all there.

The author of Buyology recorded measurable mental cravings in subjects at just the sight of the distinctive red and yellow tile roof at a McDonald's, the glass shards of a smashed classic Coca-Cola bottle and a billboard showing the Marlboro Man riding into the sunset even without the presence of the logo or product name.

"We proved those government bans on cigarette advertising actually have just the opposite effect. Even government health warnings in Europe with atrocious photos of lung disease posted on cigarette packs trigger cravings to light up," he said. "No wonder smoking continues to increase."

• • •

Lee Scott turned heads in his last public speech as chief executive of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

He called on Washington politicians to settle some unresolved debates left hanging during the Bush administration that are "critical to the country."

"There has been too much partisanship, too much gamesmanship, too much selfishness, and the people are tired of it," he said.

It was quite a list from a CEO whose company almost exclusively wrote campaign checks to GOP candidates since the Reagan administration.

Making Scott's must-do list: reduce reliance on foreign oil, a national policy for environmental sustainability, immigration reform, "bold action" on economic stimulus and an end to "our national embarrassment of 47-million people" not covered by health insurance.

Scott drew the line, however, at being conciliatory over President-elect Obama's priority of relaxing union certification election rules, an issue dear to organized labor that gives retail executives heart palpitations.

"That is just too flawed," he said. "Maybe it can be addressed through the National Labor Relations Board" which will likely take on a pro-labor bent when restocked with Obama appointees.

Gadget can store dozens of reward cards and coupons 01/14/09 [Last modified: Thursday, January 15, 2009 12:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. PunditFact: George Will's comparison of tax preparers, firefighters based on outdated data


    The statement

    "America has more people employed as tax preparers (1.2 million) than as police and firefighters."

    George Will, July 12 in a column

    The ruling

    WASHINGTON - JANUARY 08: Conservative newspaper columnist George Will poses on the red carpet upon arrival at a salute to FOX News Channel's Brit Hume on January 8, 2009 in Washington, DC. Hume was honored for his 35 years in journalism. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
  2. Appointments at Shutts & Bowen and Tech Data highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers



    Retired U.S. Navy Commander Scott G. Johnson has joined Shutts & Bowen LLP in its Tampa office as a senior attorney in the firm's Government Contracts and Corporate Law Practice Groups. Johnson brings 15 years of legal experience and 24 years of naval service to his position. At Shutts, Scott will …

    United States Navy Commander (Retired) Scott G. Johnson joins Shutts & Bowen LLP in its Tampa office. [Company handout]
  3. Macy's chairman replaces ex-HSN head Grossman on National Retail Federation board


    Terry Lundgren, chairman of Macy's Inc., will replace Weight Watchers CEO Mindy Grossman as chair of the National Retail Federation, the organization announced Wednesday. Grossman stepped down from her position following her move from leading St. Petersburg-based HSN to Weight Watchers.

    Weight Watchers CEO and former HSN chief Mindy Grossman is being replaced as chair of the National Retail Federation. [HSN Inc.]
  4. Unexpected weak quarter at MarineMax slashes boating retailer shares nearly 25 percent


    CLEARWATER — Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, a boating business leader issued a small craft warning.

    Bill McGill Jr., CEO of Clearwater's MarineMax, the country's biggest recreational boat retailer. [Courtesy of MarineMax]
  5. CapTrust moving headquarters to downtown Park Tower


    TAMPA — CAPTRUST Advisors, a Raleigh, N.C.-based investment consulting firm, is moving its Tampa offices into Park Tower. CapTrust's new space will be 10,500 square feet — the entirety of the 18th floor of the downtown building, which is scheduled to undergo a multi-million-dollar renovation by 2018.

    CAPTRUST Advisors' Tampa location is moving into Park Tower. Pictured is the current CapTrust location at 102 W. Whiting St. | [Times file photo]