American Express (AXP) is making a bid to bring cardholders its own version of daily deal offers ala Groupon and LivingSocial, joining forces with Twitter in an attempt to turn America into a "couponless nation."
Under its new program, American Express customers will synchronize their cards with their Twitter accounts; then, when they tweet using customized hashtags, couponless deals will be loaded directly onto their cards. Among the merchants participating so far: 1-800-FLOWERS.com, Best Buy (BBY) The Cheesecake Factory (CAKE), H&M, Ticketmaster, Whole Foods Market (WFM) and Zappos.com.
Use your synchronized charge card for qualifying purchases, and the savings are applied to their card statement within days.
Card members can find the offers on the American Express Twitter page.
But while the program will undoubtedly offer good discounts, Amex cardholders should take advantage of the promotion now. Chances are, it's not here to stay, warns Odysseas Papadimitriou, CEO of CardHub.com, a credit card information and gift card exchange portal.
That's because the Amex/Twitter union is built on a daily deal model that has mostly benefited local stores and restaurants. By contrast, national chains haven't reaped similar rewards.
It tends to be chains' existing customers who partake in their daily deals, Papadimitriou tells DailyFinance. But the whole purpose of such marketing ploys is to bring in new customers -- and for those large companies, they don't attract enough. "My expectation is that [the Amex/Twitter partnership] is not going to last for very long," he says.
What's more, he says, shoppers might be hesitant to publicize their purchases to all of their Twitter followers.
An Anti-Couponing Movement?
However the program fares, it's clear that American Express is the latest company working to depict the coupon as an antiquated, cumbersome savings tool.
Although the recession and shows like Extreme Couponing have shoved coupons into the savings spotlight, businesses lately have been touting other ways for consumers to cut their costs. J.C. Penney (JCP), for example, recently announced it was dramatically cutting back on coupon offers and eliminating 590 sale events a year, in favor of simply offering lower standard prices everyday. Stein Mart, a department store chain concentrated in Texas and the Southeast, just announced a similar initiative.
Papadimitriou cited Apple (AAPL), the darling of the retail sector, as a merchant that has thrived without ever resorting to coupon ploys. And some industry experts point to retail offers in the cloud -- where discount credits are automatically applied after a consumer makes a purchase -- as the wave of the future.
"Amex-Twitter looks like one of those very impressive mashups that I suspect will have a brief life cycle in its present form. It does, however, introduce or expand several concepts that may persist," said James Tenser, a principal with retail consultancy VSN Strategies, in his comment on RetailWire's blog.
These include, "offers in the cloud. No coupons or scanned phones -- just credits applied after purchase," he said, which is "simple and clean to the shopper -- once they accept the enrollment process."
It also marks another milestone in the use of social media to distribute offers, a method which "hasn't yet come close to its potential. The viral re-tweets could prove both brilliant and scary for issuers, if redemptions climb out of control," Tenser said.
American Express will introduce the new Twitter experience during a nationally live-streamed concert from SXSW -- Amex Sync Show Presenting Jay-Z -- at 8 p.m. (ET), Monday that can be accessed here.
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