You’ve already made the decision to make coupons a part of your CPG brand strategy, but now you need to worry about the fine details. We’re not referring to how much of a discount you should offer or whether it’s better to bundle products for a discount. Rather, we’re referring to the security features that will ensure your promotion isn’t abused through over redemption or coupon fraud.
Understanding how coupons have changed means more than just understanding their new mediums. In today’s post, you’ll see how technology has changed the coupon game for your benefit.
Serialized PIN Tracking
As a key feature of the recent GSMA and GS1 recommendations for standardization, the serialized PINs are dynamic codes which are not only unique to each brand, but are unique to each offer and can even be unique to each recipient. One of it’s other purposes is to assist in tracking the coupon from being received and printed (if applicable) to being used at POS.
Why it helps: This prevents the fraudulent proliferation of any given coupon over the internet as well as over redemption because each highly unique PIN can only be used once.
Tamper-Resistant, Custom Watermarking
Watermarking is a form of authentication that has existed since the late 13th century to combat counterfeiting. While print-at-home coupons can’t utilize traditional watermarking that assists with official documentation such as currency, the image can use watermarks that are pre-embedded into the image itself. Many times it is utilized on offer details, authentication codes, and expiration dates.
Why it helps: Used as a part of the digital coupon preview process, it’s used as an overlay that helps prevent users from taking a screenshot in order to manipulate the image (e.g., creating a fake coupon, falsifying details) or to otherwise proliferate the offer online. When used as part of a printed coupon, it’s used as an underlay that can interfere with photocopying the offer (e.g., the color doesn’t copy, blacking out key parts of the coupon) as well as scanning and altering the image.
Dynamic Expiration Dates
This particular feature is beneficial to both your business and the customer. By being “dynamic,” the expiration date is determined by a user’s action (e.g., opening the email or text message, printing). For one thing, it ensures that certain offers are always applicable within a certain time period instead of by a static date (e.g., within three days of opening a welcome email), so a customer doesn’t miss out on a special offer.
Why it helps: Like any expiration date, this helps to ensure an offer can’t be abused beyond its intended redemption time frame. This feature is especially good for maintaining your business’ cost certainty. Furthermore, since it’s determined by when the customer generates the coupon, it adds another element of uniqueness that cannot be counterfeited.
Dynamic GS1 DataBar
This bar code represents the evolution of the UPC. By utilizing 74 characters instead of 12, an exponential amount of information can be encoded using the DataBar. For instance, coupons can become much more precise, including retailer specificity and compound offers. The shape of the DataBar can also vary, adding to the unique qualities of your coupons.
Why it helps: Another factor that aligns with industry standardization, this allows for the sort of communication a standard UPC code can’t. It carries the unique PIN and dynamic expiration date as well as other data that allows it to automate systematic checks for previous use, if specifications of complex offers have been met, and more. This also reduces one source of coupon abuse — cashier intervention.
Real-Time Smartphone and Web Authentication at POS
These features are important based mostly on the first part of the phrase: real-time. The cashier validates whether or not the information provided by the DataBar should be used at POS, streamlining its role in the checkout process. Web authentication is what allows the process to be real-time, whether it’s a print coupon or a mobile one. Smartphone authentication refers to coupons presented on that device to be scanned at the POS.
Why it helps: The benefits of real-time authentication should be self-explanatory. When the POS can access authentication data through the web, it quickly applies or declines the coupon. Furthermore, by utilizing smartphone technology to submit coupons, you’re taking advantage of the layers of security already present in the mobile-to-POS process itself. These features have been developed as a part of mobile wallet payments, and are intended to protect customers from identity theft and other fraud. Thus they offer more advanced authentication options.
Now that you know how technology has changed the coupon game, you can move forward with your promotional strategy without worrying about coupon over redemption or fraud. With how coupons have changed, your offers are more secure than they have been ever before.