„Couponing” terms temporary measures in the promotion, which allow consumers to get a discount on purchase or a monetary value-added service by converting a coupon.1)
Objectives of couponing are:
Until 1980 millions of German citizens collected discount coupons. They were used mostly in the post-war period, later they were largely displaced by special offers5)
Until 2001 the limits for couponing in Germany were very restrictive compared to the USA.6) In June 2001 the discount law (“Rabattgesetz”) of 1933 and the Free Gift Act (“Zugabeverordnung”) of 1932, which prohibited the granting of a discount of more than 3% to end users and to give out nonpaid add ons, was repealed. After that, couponing has become much more important in Germany than before.7)
Currently this type of promotion is experiencing a hype. Internet and smartphones make new couponing-varieties in the e-commerce possible.8)
In e-commerce, there are two different types of couponing: internet-couponing and mobile-couponing.
The most important forms of Internet couponing are:
Funcitonality: A grouponing-platform offers special discount coupons for individual cities. For these a minimum number of potential buyers is searched. The deal is time-limited and only comes into being when the required minimum number of people buys the coupon on the grouponing-platform. The buyers will receive their voucher by e-mail.
Funcitonality: The websites gather a lot of different coupons, discount and special offers. The users choose the coupon they want and convert it either when shopping online, or they print it and convert it in a local shop.9)
Funcitonality: Customers or potential customers receive directly from the manufacturer or retailer coupons - available on their web site or per e-mail. Customers can convert the coupons in the corresponding Online Shop or stationary stores.
Mobile couponing is the retrieval of mobile coupons to the mobile- or smartphone. There is a distinction between two versions: Mobile couponing via SMS/MMS (push method) or by mobile application (pull method). The latter belongs to the e-commerce.
Functionality: The mobile user has to register in the internet, then he can retrieve electronic coupons of different companies on his cell phone. Often this is done through a program (App), which has to be installed in advance on the mobile phone. To redeem the coupon, the purchaser has to scan the barcode on the mobile-display at the checkout or show it to the staff.
Since the repeal of the discount law (“Rabattgesetz”) and the Free Gift Act (“Zugabeverordnung”) a number of laws and regulations control the couponing in Germany, amongst others