Were you excited to see a coupon for free Chobani yogurt in this Sunday’s SmartSource? Did your coupon scan at checkout? If it did, you got really lucky. Chobani tried to create a great offer by issuing a coupon for free Chobani yogurt, but instead we ended up with a Chobani coupon error.
In the 2/11 coupon, Chobani used two different manufacturer codes for the free item. However, that type of offer isn’t allowed under the coupon barcode design rules. As a result, your stores’ checkout computers weren’t programmed to handle this coupon, and it is unclear if this coupon will scan at checkout. Results are likely to vary from store to store and from product to product.
For all the coupon wonks who read this blog, in the joint commission’s final GS1 databar guidelines for manufactures and point of sale systems, section 5.3.4 prohibits the use of multiple manufacturer codes for free items because “there is no means to properly validate that both the purchase requirement has been met and the free item is also present in the basket with this particular offer construct” (GS1 Databar POS Implementation Guide for Coupons Final V2.0).
So in plain English, manufacturers can’t use more than one manufacturer code in a free coupon. If you’re wondering about QSeer’s output, our apps are based on the GS1 databar guidelines just like the retailers, and we didn’t program for this error either.
There are a couple of ways that Chobani could have done this offer successfully. They could have issued a separate free coupon for each manufacturer code. Of course, issuing two coupons would have been twice as expensive as only issuing the one coupon. Alternatively, they could have just encoded a fixed value off the purchase. We’ve seen manufacturers say “free” on a coupon, but then just have a preset value that is deducted at checkout – say $2.19 in this case.
So two months into 2018, why are we seeing such a high error rate? Why are there so many coupons that are just wrong and/or unredeemable? The reality is that the databar is extremely complicated. Companies are relying on people who present themselves as experts in coupon design, but clearly they are not.
We sympathize with manufacturers, but the reality is that the databar can’t do everything. It simply can’t support every conceivable offer. Is the databar better than the old UPC-A system? Absolutely, but there are still trade offs that must be made in designing promotions.
We encourage Chobani (and all coupon issuers) to use CHEQR which is a coupon barcode verification app. CHEQR includes multiple reporting tools within the app to allow manufacturers full visibility into how their coupon barcodes are encoded. Our CHEQR Pro app contains a user friendly wizard to build accurate barcodes. We can schedule a personalized demonstration of the apps anytime.
Our goal at Dusty Wallet is for companies to issue accurate coupons. We would be happy to help any manufacturer, printer, or promotions company with their coupon barcodes on a consulting basis. Our team is comprised of consumer marketing veterans with Wharton MBA’s combined with computer science experts from Duke and Georgia Tech. Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will help you stop making costly errors in your coupon barcodes.