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Feb. 20, 2009
Northwest Missouri State University today signed an agreement with representatives from Alyoop Inc., a St. Louis-based start-up company seeking to provide shoppers with coupons selected to match customer-generated shopping lists and delivered via the Internet.
Alyoop's James E. McKee III described the concept, which is patent-pending, as the first new service in the area of manufacturers' coupon distribution since the invention of newspapers.
"Alyoop was founded to meet the changing needs of consumers in the 21st Century," McKee said. "Newspaper readership has continued to decline, and consumers are not interested in having to visit multiple Web sites or spending time poring over pages of ads for products in which they have no interest."
The company's Web site, which includes a product demonstration, is located at www.alyoop.com .
Northwest's role in the new enterprise will be to develop a Beta version of the application software for the system capable of functioning performing most of the functions of a production version.
A group of Northwest students led by Dr. Dean Sanders, professor of computer science and information systems, and Dr. Chi Lo Lim, associate professor of marketing and management, will perform a series of developmental tasks, including systems analysis, user interface design, database design, software architecture development, software implementation, and development of user documentation and test cases.
According to the agreement, student teams are expected to deliver the alpha version of the customer's side of the software to Alyoop Inc. by May of this year.
During upcoming semesters, teams will begin work on the manufacturers' side of the application in addition to features such as reports, a "dashboard" that will allow manufacturers to make real time changes to their coupon offers by zip code, and implementation of the coupon reimbursement system for retailers.
As the entire Web-based application takes shape, there will be plenty of opportunities for Alyoop Inc. and the University to continue working together. Students will receive academic credit for their work along with valuable professional experience, Sanders said.
"For the first time, shoppers will not have to search for coupons," McKee said. "Matching coupons will be delivered to their personal shopping list immediately prior to a shopping event.
"Shoppers will be able to store an unlimited number of shopping lists that correspond to their weekly shopping trips, special events or holidays and be able to take advantage of the best coupons offered in the area that matches their zip code."
On the manufacturers' side, sponsoring companies will be able to target offers by zip code and adjust discounts electronically in response to market conditions. Shoppers will enter zip codes in which they plan to shop so that the correct coupons can be made available to them, and manufacturers will enjoy cost savings by not having to print and distribute offers weeks in advance.
Additional advantages to consumers include receiving coupons that can be printed from home computers or scanned at the store from a cell phone or PDA. The service, according to Alyoop, will cost the consumers nothing, and they will not be asked to identify themselves or provide credit card or banking information.
McKee and fellow Alyoop Inc. partners Mark Hoeman and Joe Carpenter make up the company's senior management team.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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