Yowza Adds Self-Serve Option For Mobile Coupons

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Mobile coupon company Yowza has launched a self-service option that allows retailers and restaurants to more easily offer discounts and special deals via the startup's free iPhone app.

Yowza's service works by presenting mobile consumers with coupons available at nearby stores within a radius of their choosing (1,5, 15, 25 or 50 miles). By tapping on a store, a user can find and select an offer and bring it to the local business to be scanned directly from the phone screen.

The self-service offering is aimed at small businesses with only one or two locations, and allows them to upload coupons online to Yowza's system without having to go through any human intermediaries. To date, the company, co-founded by "Heroes" star Greg Grunberg, has focused on bringing on board major retailers including Sears, Sports Authority and Crate & Barrel.

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"The self sign-up option shows our commitment to make using Yowza as rewarding an experience as possible for our partners," said the company's other founder, August Trometer.

Participating merchants pay Yowza $49 per location per month for the service, including new or updated offers at no additional cost. Push notifications tell customers when a business has added a new coupon, and reporting from the Yowza app provides insight on how well coupons are working. The company promises that discounts and deals can be launched the same day a business signs up online with Yowza.

When launched last year, Macworld called the Yowza app interface "intuitive and speedy" and easy to search and mark stores as favorites. But it lamented the lack of available offers in a variety of different locations tested. While it is still expanding, Yowza says it now offers coupons from 200 national chains and local businesses in 15,000 locations nationwide.

In addition to its iPhone app, Yowza also makes the coupon service available through the Where app on BlackBerry, Android and Palm devices.

Yowza is among the startups and established companies trying to capitalize on the potential for mobile coupons as more sophisticated devices make m-commerce more feasible. Target earlier this month began offering scannable mobile coupons for stores nationwide, and other big-box retailers like JCPenney have started testing scannable coupons. But in a recent report, Forrester Research says only 3% of consumers have actually used mobile coupons to date.

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