Never pay retail. Why should you? Nearly all goods and services can be had at some discount, if you have the right coupon. The coupon business itself, in fact, is huge--you can see that just by looking at your local Sunday newspaper.
But newspaper circulation is declining. So where will tomorrow's consumers get their coupons, and how are businesses going to reach them?
Start-up Zixxo is building a new coupon marketplace. The overall concept is simple: Businesses go online and post their offers and coupons. Then users go online and find offers they want. They print the coupons (or load them onto their cell phones, perhaps) and take them out shopping. Zixxo will charge the businesses for delivering the coupons (right now, the service is free).
Unlike Cellfire, which is oriented around coupons on cell phones, Zixxo isn't pushing the technology curve too hard. It's really focused on paper coupons, which you don't have to train people to use. And unlike Zimini, it doesn't require a software download or that you enter any information. But there are several straightforward coupon sites, such as CoolSavings, CouponSurfer, and many others. Zixxo is different from these sites in that its database is open, which makes mashups possible. It's also more small-business-friendly than most other coupon sites: there's a self-service tool businesses can use to put coupons into the system.
With a solid database of coupons, good mashups should come. It would make sense for the coupon database to surface on travel sites, for example. The site is new, though, and the database so far is a little sparse. And that is the biggest challenge for this company--getting the offers from businesses, not just the same national coupons from the big box and fast food outlets that are already on the other systems.