Coupon Clippers, Save Your Scissors

For a decade now, the grocery shoppers in most American households have carried a plastic check-cashing card. At supermarkets, computers read data from the card's magnetic stripe, making check approval a snap. That's a nice convenience for shoppers, but technology gurus have realized all those years that the cards could do much more: By electronically linking the identity of purchasers with what they buy, they predicted, convenience cards could help packaged-goods suppliers and supermarkets better understand their businesses and earn better profits.

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