Digital Coupons Change At Point of Sale


Digital coupons restricted at the point of sale by family barcodes.

As a single mother and barcode enthusiast, the inordinate amount of time I spend on should come as no surprise; gone are the days of clipping coupons from the Sunday Times, the current generation of Couponers head to the World Wide Web. Now, is the recognized leader in digital coupons, and in defense of that position the company is improving upon digital coupon barcodes with family code information —a move the company claims will benefit merchant, issuer and consumer, alike. However, benefits to the consumer seem ephemeral at best.’s CouponFit™ Retail™ Family Codes Database service will now be free to retailers, providing them with accurate, up-to-date family code information for their point of sale (POS) systems to validate that coupons presented at check out by consumers accurately match the products purchased, as defined by the manufacturer.

Four years ago, acquired J Michels Consulting, a respected, leading authority of family codes and UPC management services. Since then, Jane Michels has led a family codes services team intent upon improving the technology and automation of the service. They have rendered it more powerful and scalable to support a continually growing database and client roster. maintains the only true and comprehensive family code database in the country and has been actively constructed and maintained for more than 15 years. The database includes family codes from more than 1,300 manufacturers, spanning hundreds of thousands of products.

“When retailers implement family codes into their POS systems, they can ensure the customer is buying the correct item for each specific coupon presented,” said Steven Boal, CEO of “Family codes can reduce deductions for retailers, mis-redemptions for manufacturers, and can benefit everyone. By making our family codes service available to retailers at no charge, we hope to speed the adoption of family codes across the retail industry to enhance and promote couponing for all parties involved.”

What does a family code do?
With Family codes coupon issuers can define which of their products are eligible for specific promotions. The limitations are embedded into the coupon’s barcode. Manufacturers can include a single product within a family code or, more likely, group “families” of eligible products. This allows manufacturers to group products by brand, product variation, product size, or other product attributes.

Consider a beverage manufacturer that offers multiple soda brands (A, B and C), each with multiple variations (flavors or calorie count) and in various sizes (12 oz, 20 oz, or 6, 12 or 24-packs). Without family-code restrictions, a $2.00 coupon could be applied to the purchase of a 12 oz. bottle even though it was meant to apply only to a 24-pack purchase, or allow the coupon to be applied to the same manufacturer’s snack product instead of its beverage products line. Family codes ensure that the right coupon amount is applied to the right product.

Who Really Benefits from Family Codes?
In the press release issued by Incorporated the following benefits are outlined:

For Retailers – Implementing family code data at point of purchase translates to faster monetary settlement for redeemed coupons, with fewer charge backs and deductions during the reconciliation process. In addition, the commitment to cross check family codes communicates to the manufacturer that the retailer is in support of accurate redemptions, fostering good faith with the coupon issuer.

For Manufacturers – Family codes enable manufacturers to target promotions down to the brand, size, or other product attribute level and ensure coupons are not intentionally or mistakenly used for alternative products. As a result, coupons are used the way manufacturers intend.

For Consumers – Increased confidence by manufacturers that their coupons will be redeemed as intended could result in more coupons ultimately being issued, offering more savings opportunities for consumers.

Granted, my view may be skewed by personal attachment to this issue, but the mere possibility that manufacturers may perhaps issue more coupons someday doesn’t seem like a benefit to this Couponer. Honestly, I think I prefer receiving $2.00 off a 12 oz. bottle rather than the 24 pack the manufacturer wanted me to buy.

However, while the Couponer in me may not be impressed by this development, the barcode enthusiast in me is applauding. More companies should be pushing the limits of the power of the barcode. Investing in barcode technology research is a move more companies should be making. The applications are beyond even my imagination, I’m sure of it.

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About the Author

Editorial Team is a leading industry news site for the point of sale and payments industry.We are also the go-to resource for small business owners that want expert tips and inspiration on how to run a successful business. Collectively, our team of experts has decades of POS, payments, and small business experience.