Thinking about Rebates…

Ebates Cash Back Rebate Check

Why do rebates exist?  Two reasons – one two drive sales of a product (along with the realization that significant numbers of purchasers will not redeem the rebate or fulfill all its terms) and two to collect information about consumers with the intent to reuse the information in other promotions or generate income by selling customer lists.

Given that, why don’t retailers (and e-tailers) follow Staples’ Easy Button example?  It is trivial to connect purchaser information online at purchase and apply the rebate in the shopping cart.  It would similarly be easy to take loyalty card information at checkout in the brick-and-mortar store or collect additional information at the point-of-sale credit card terminal (although that would create lines and delays)?

Given the above, tying loyalty card information and a consumer profile to easy rebate redemption seems like a win-win for retailer, marketers, and consumers.  The only loser is the rebate clearing house.  Retailers or manufacturers would also need to re-calibrate rebate amounts to account for a higher redemption rate.