AOL wants you to stop clipping coupons or even printing them out. The company is launching a new service, Shortcuts, for manufacturers to distribute coupons on the Internet.
Instead of clipping them out of your newspaper insert, you can simply choose the ones you want online and add them to an account tied to a grocery store’s loyalty program. To redeem those coupons, you simply present your loyalty card at the register.
The program is free for consumers and retail chains, while manufacturers pay to have their coupons listed. Charges will be based on how many get selected and redeemed.
Manufacturers can also buy banner ads to accompany the coupon listings at Shortcuts.com.
The new service, the latest aimed at distributing paperless coupons online or by cell phones, comes as Time Warner Inc.’s AOL continues trying to boost advertising revenue to offset steep declines in subscriptions for dial-up Internet access.
Although AOL expects manufacturers to continue distributing coupons in print publications, Shortcuts director Sharon Baker said companies could eventually offer exclusive deals online.
That could leave out people with little or no Internet access, who often are poorer and the ones who most need such discounts. But Baker said that, because it will be free to consumers, Shortcuts actually will break down barriers ? no longer would you need to buy a newspaper for the savings.
Shortcuts was scheduled to launch Thursday with the Kroger Co. grocery store chain and one food manufacturer, General Mills Inc.
Coupons from Kimberly-Clark Corp. and Kraft Foods Inc. are to come later this month.