In response to increased coupon clipping, some Publix stores are experimenting with digital coupons that don't have to be presented at the checkout.
The Lakeland-based grocery chain is testing a new program at stores in Ocala and parts of Alabama that allows shoppers to select coupons online and redeem them electronically at the store.
The service started a few weeks ago at 10 stores in Ocala and 29 stores in and around Birmingham, Huntsville and Madison, Ala. It is not available in the Tampa Bay area.
"We're just trying it out and collecting feedback before we decide what our next steps will be," said Publix spokeswoman Shannon Patten.
Shoppers sign up for the service online at Publix.com/dcoupon. Once registered, they can click on the coupons they want and have their list emailed, printed or downloaded. To redeem the coupons, shoppers just give the cashier the phone number used in the registration.
About 60 digital coupons are available, from 75 cents off Aquafresh toothpaste to $1 off Pam cooking spray. Each have different expiration dates and are viewable on smartphones.
So far, reaction to the paperless coupons has been positive.
"It's still very new, but customers are excited," Patten said. "They love the fact that they can print a list of what coupons they have, and they don't have to bring coupons with them."
The service is the chain's first foray into paperless coupons but not online coupons. Publix has free, printable coupons at Coupons.com that are redeemed like traditional coupons at checkout.
The digital coupons come about a month after Publix announced a new online deli ordering system in which customers can order custom subs, meat and cheese online without having to wait in line at the counter. The deli pilot program is available at the Southgate Shopping Center in Lakeland and is expected to debut at some St. Petersburg stores in a few weeks.