In a conversation with the CIO Application editorial panel, Rob Balfour, the co-founder of CoupDog, speaks about how the company leverages the capabilities of blockchain technology to, in many ways, redefine digital couponing.
Could you provide a brief overview of CoupDog?
Back in 2016, we noticed that only 5 percent of coupons were in digital form, and 95 percent were still paper-based. We started CoupDog with a vision to reinvent and revolutionize the entire infrastructure for digital coupons. We focus on grocery, drug stores, and mass-market retailers, where coupons are typically issued by the consumer packaged goods companies (CPGs) and redeemed by independent retailers. Our blockchain-powered distributed technology stores digital coupons in a secure and highly controllable manner.
What are the major challenges and pain points associated with paper as well as digital coupons, and how does CoupDog solve them?
Several barriers have prevented rapid adoption or the shift from paper to digital coupons. Heightened by the pandemic situation, customers are looking forward to a more contactless and paperless system. Due to COVID-19, they are currently addressing much of their regular grocery requirements through online purchases, where it is quite hard to have a system that accepts paper coupons. CoupDog provides an omnichannel solution where customers can easily redeem their coupons both online and in-stores.
Additionally, paper-based coupons also face specific issues when it comes to security and fraud. Our blockchain- enabled solution not only manages the complete lifecycle of the digital coupon but also provides rich data analytics and delivers a fraud-proof, end-to-end secure infrastructure for coupons.
CoupDog’s omnichannel solution helps brands and retailers connect with their customers, motivate purchases, and provide a web-based interface that allows them to self- publish coupons to the blockchain
Could you please elaborate on your strategy and how customers can leverage your solution?
We mainly cater to two key groups of customers, specifically CPG brands and retailers. We use the marketing channels that the brands and retailers already utilize to engage with our end consumers. CoupDog’s omnichannel solution helps brands and retailers connect with their customers, motivate purchases, and provide a web-based interface that allows them to self-publish coupons to the blockchain. Also, there are certain design elements for the coupons, depending upon how they are distributed, along with creating a precise set of business rules for publishing those coupons. For retailers, we have specific APIs that allow them to interconnect to the blockchain network to their POS system. For example, if a customer presents a coupon, then the blockchain verifies the coupon is valid, shares the coupon business rules, matches the coupons to the items that the customer is purchasing, and calculates the coupon discount to be applied, and finally sends what we call a redemption token back to the blockchain to prove the redemption occurred. This serves as the basis for reconciliation and reimbursement from the issuer. It provides real-time data across the consumer journey from discovery through to redemption.
Our solution is also integrated with the latest mobile wallet platforms from Apple, Google, as well as Retailer Load2Card platforms. We call it a universal mobile coupon format (UMC), which is a direct replacement of paper-based coupons. It provides a highly convenient way to allow brands to distribute coupons anywhere they engage with consumers on social media feeds, email programs, brand websites, banner ads etc.. Customers can easily add the coupons without registering or signing up, and the blockchain technology provides the necessary security and eliminates the need for the third-party coupon clearinghouses.
Could you describe more specifically about your engagement with clients?
We rolled out our technology in 2019 with our retail partner Rouses Markets. They are one of the largest independent grocery chains, operating 65 stores across Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Today, we are in a position to onboard more brands onto our platform. We already have 30 leading CPGs, and we are expect to have over a hundred by the end of this year, which includes companies such as Coca Cola, KraftHeinz, Mondelez, Pepsi, Tyson Foods, to name a few. During the second half of this year, we are planning to roll out to over 1000 additional retail locations.
What does the roadmap look like for CoupDog?
Further innovation in our blockchain platform will allow Retailers and CPG brands around the globe to efficiently and securely manage their promotional activities, and unlock new ways to engage with and motivate consumers. Over the next couple of years, our focus is on the U.S. and Canadian markets to drive as broad based retailer acceptance as possible in the grocery, drug, and mass market channels. We believe that our platform will soon be adopted by restaurants, apparel, sporting goods, and other adjacent retail categories. We are also looking forward to expanding our footprint to Europe, Latin America, and Southeast Asian markets.