CPG Retailers, Manufacturers Issue Digital Coupon Guidelines

The Food Marketing Institute (FMI), Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and National Grocers Association (NGA) have released guidelines designed to promote model practices in the "end-to-end" digital coupon process and reduce the incidence of coupon fraud.

Pamela Bailey, president and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based GMA, noted that the Guidelines are mutually beneficial for consumers, manufacturers and retailers alike, adding that the latter groups "reduce costs by streamlining their coupon programs and reducing fraud,” and offer consumers “a better shopping experience in the store and at check out," Bailey said.

The Guidelines include:

  • An overview of the digital coupon lifecycle for those new to the topic
  • Standardized file layouts for set-up and redemption
  • Recommendations for validation of digital coupons without using visible barcodes
  • A checklist of key control points
  • Recommendations for clear coupon design
  • A discussion of stacking prevention and audits
  • The eight process components needed to prevent fraud

The Guidelines highlight the key distinctions between digital and paper coupons, including the presence of barcode data, distribution methods, consumer acquisition and presentment, purchase validation and offer set-up at point of sale.

"Couponing has seen unprecedented growth in the past decade and digital coupons represent the fasting growing segment," said Peter J. Larkin, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based NGA. "These first of its kind guidelines for digital coupons will become a go-to resource for the industry."

Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of FMI, noted that consumers’ frequent use of coupons has played an integral role in retailers’ purchase power, adding that "Digital coupons add a welcomed high-tech layer of ease to the couponing adventure, but also introduce new possibilities of fraud that this set of guidelines seeks to address, keeping coupon use fair and simple for all consumers," Sarasin said.

Produced by the Joint Industry Coupon Committee (JICC), Voluntary Guidelines for Digital Coupons shares model digital coupon practices in order to ensure a positive experience for consumers, proper settlement for retailers and effective and well-controlled promotions for manufacturers.

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