(WASHINGTON, DC) – November, 13, 2012 – The Food Marketing Institute (FMI), Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and National Grocers Association (NGA) today released guidelines designed to promote model practices in the “end-to-end” digital coupon process and reduce the incidence of coupon fraud.

“These guidelines are a win-win for manufacturers, retailers and consumers,” said Pamela Bailey, president and CEO of GMA. “Manufacturers and retailers reduce costs by streamlining their coupon programs and reducing fraud, and consumers will have a better shopping experience in the store and at check out.” 

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

“Retailers have long appreciated the popularity coupons have with consumers as means of increasing their purchasing power,” said Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of Food Marketing Institute. “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.”

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.

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.

The JICC is made up of member companies from GMA, FMI and NGA. The JICC considers the Voluntary Coupon Guidelines complimentary to the GS1 Digital Coupon Management Standard Specification. The JICC plans to work with the GS1–U.S. Member Organization to ensure clear communication of both important standards documents.

For a complete copy of Voluntary Guidelines for Digital Coupons, visit