Do you remember stamp collecting? I don't mean stamps from France, or U.S. First Day Covers or plate blocks of U.S. stamps issued by the post office. The kind of stamp collecting I'm talking about were the stamps that retailers gave you as a "bonus" or a thank-you for shopping and making a purchase. These were "premium stamps" including S&H Green Stamps and Triple S Blue Stamps and then Plaid Stamps came along probably because it thought more than one color was better than green or blue.

I remember redeeming my Green Stamps at a "redemption center" which was an actual store with products on display. You'd bring in your books with stamps pasted on the pages and exchange completed books or half-books for merchandise. I think a Kodak camera was three and a half books, or something like that.

I'm not sure what killed off the stamp premium business but I think it was inflation. Retailers tried to cut costs and so they cut out the stamps that they would buy from the stamp companies.

I don't think stamps would stand a chance in today's economy. Today, few consumers even bother with coupons that are clipped from newspapers and magazines. Today, consumers just want to show a code on their cell phone text screen to get a discount. And even better, they'd rather just order something online with a discount already included in the online price instead of spending money on gas to travel to a brick and mortar store.

And for those reasons I think physical coupons are the next retailing promotional item to become extinct. Physical coupons even during their hey day only had a redemption rate of one-percent or less. And with texting of discount codes I am sure the day is coming when no one will bother with clipping and carrying coupons.

In fact I am waiting for the day when manufacturers will put a bar code or QR code on every one of their packages that cell phone users will be able to scan to instantly download a discount code that they can flash to the cashier at check out.

This kind of technology could ignite a point of sale price war.

There are already some manufacturers who put point of sale discount coupon dispensers on store shelves next to their products. Here is a photo of one:

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Click on the thumbnail to expand the photo.

But the QR Code or bar code that will immediately send a discount text to the buyer will cut down on the cost of printing coupons and installing those coupon dispensers.

A few years ago, Coupon Queens probably never imagined that their cents-off coupons could go the way of Blue Stamps, Green Stamps and Plaid Stamps, but I think that is exactly what's going to happen as cell phone technology eliminates the need for paper.