It has been a while since we shared an update on how AFS’ is progressing with our digital coupons effort. Prior to the pandemic, we were seeing good growth with digital coupons; however, the pandemic threw us all a curve ball. As the pandemic hit, stores added plex barriers at their registers, and shoppers moved to a “get-in-and-out-as-quickly-as-possible” mindset, we saw a dramatic drop in rewards and digital coupon engagement. For the most part, these challenges remained consistent throughout 2020 and 2021. However, we have seen several very positive shifts in 2022. 

Before we share the good news with you, we do want to hit on the importance of digital coupons for a minute. As we have witnessed for the last decade, the entire industry has been moving to digital, digital coupons being a starting point for many retailers and CPGs/vendors. It makes sense. Coupons have been a staple in the grocery industry going back to the late 1800s. 


The first coupon was issued in 1894 by Coca-Cola in support of the new fountain drink they launched.

Digital coupons come with many benefits:

  • They are secure and eliminate a lot of paper coupon fraud.
  • They are trackable giving the CPG manufacturers far better visibility into what is happening with their marketing investments.
  • They bypass the news agencies and allow CPGs to advertise directly with retailers on their digital platforms.
  • They are far more flexible in the types of promotions that can be supported.

Over the last several years, Boyd Irving and our Exclusive Brands team have made significant investments in AFS’ digital coupon program, funding around 150 Exclusive Brands digital coupons per month. All AFS retailers that are on our digital coupon program have the exclusive brands digital coupons loaded to their programs each month.  

During 2022, and as AFS has worked with our retailers to move more toward digital rather than printed ads, our teams have aligned to do more with this program. We have valuable alignment between our sales, advertising and marketing teams – all working together to make digital coupons more prominent in our go-to-market strategy so that 1) we can make sure our retailers are getting access to these national funds and 2) so we can continue building our own digital strategy as shoppers navigate more and more into digital and away from traditional media. We have also seen increased interest in and support of our digital coupon program from our retailers and their shoppers. Because of the many combined efforts from across wholesale and retail, we are seeing great progress with digital coupons.  

Here are a few wins from 2022:

  • Our stores worked hard to achieve a 7.47% increase in completed shopper profiles.
  • The number of loyalty transactions increased by 9.70% and we saw a huge jump in our loyalty transaction percent, moving from 42.59% in 2021 to 51.71% in 2022.
  • In 2021, our stores had reached a 0.75% digital coupon clip rate. In 2022, we saw a big leap to 6.90% overall.
  • Additionally, in 2021, our stores reached a 0.47% digital coupon redemption rate. In 2022, we saw that jump to 3.94%. To keep this number in context, traditional print coupons that the big brands used to run in local papers used to see between a 1-2% redemption rate. 

2022 was a great year for many of our retailers’ rewards and digital coupon programs. We continue to actively work on improvements to the program. However, the above wins are worth celebrating and we anticipate even better results in 2023.