Provider Guide to Universal Digital Coupons

Modified on Tue, 16 Apr 2024 at 04:30 PM

Provider Guide to Universal Digital Coupons

Distribution providers are responsible for the management (Deposit and distribution) of the serialized data strings on behalf of their manufacturer partners. The consumer experience for Universal Digital Coupons is one of the most important components of the AI (8112) ecosystem - how the consumer interacts with the coupon will have the single biggest impact on its success.

Because of this, TCB has created a set of required and optional components to aid in an optimal consumer experience. All required components are used to meet industry standards and maintain consistent basic consumer experience functions across providers. Required components are evaluated in a certification process through the TCB portal dashboard. These components include: 

  • Ability to append a non-sequential serial number to a Base data string
  • Deposit and delete serialized data strings into the Master Offer File 
  • Include both barcode and Fetch Code into the consumer experience 

Fetch Code

Fetch code is a required function. 

A Fetch code has two purposes: giving the consumer an alternative shortened code in the event that the barcode cannot be scanned by a cashier and for use in e-commerce environments.  The fetch code is a short-lived 16-digit code that customers can manually provide to the cashier for redemption. 


Note: If a coupon is redeemed using a Fetchcode, that Fetchcode will be stored with that coupon’s redemption data within the TCB system.

Real-time Webhooks

Real-time webhooks are strongly recommended. 

The real-time webhook function provides real-time distribution and redemption event notifications for serialized data strings: Deposit of serialized data string, delete data string, redeem data string, rollback data string.* These notifications are intended to help to enhance the consumer experience, e.g. redemption notifications could prompt the removal of the coupon from the consumer’s wallet, app, etc.

A rollback event occurs when a transaction is not completed at the point-of-sale and the redemption must be rolled back so that the coupon is available for redemption once more. Using the webhook to retrieve this information will allow that coupon to be displayed to the consumer for use.

Store listing API

Live Retailer API is optional. 

Live Retailer API will deliver all retailers that are currently connected to The Coupon Bureau. This feature should be used to help consumers locate retailers near them that accept AI (8112) coupons.


Bundling is optional. 

The bundling feature allows multiple serialized data strings to be “bundled” into one data/barcode to scan. This feature was created to aid in lane time speed and prevent consumers from displaying coupons one by one at the time of checkout.


Metadata can be added to the Master Offer File so that additional campaign details can be passed to partners to aid in the display of the coupon in the consumer experience. Metadata includes:

  • Title - This text is intended to be used as the title of the coupon 
  • Description - This text is intended to be used as the offer details of the coupon (ex. Valid on any TWO products, excluding travel-sized products)
  • Terms - This text is intended to provide the legal terms and conditions of the coupon.
  • Mobile Image URL
  • Desktop Image URL
  • Dollar amount - This text is intended to provide the savings value to the consumer.

E-commerce shortcode

E-commerce shortcodes are available to provide a convenient way for shoppers to use their coupons in an e-commerce environment.  E-commerce shortcodes should be integrated into the consumer experience. For more information, see our latest related blog post.

Coupon Display Guidelines

Mobile Coupon Display Design

The following is an excerpt from the JICC Voluntary Guidelines for Digital Coupons as it pertains to recommended components of a mobile coupon display:

*The JICC recommends the following data elements be contained within the visual display of the offer
on an internet website or mobile device.

  • Clear identification of the product to be purchased (for example brand name and/or variety)
  • Image of the product to be purchased
  • Face value
  • Expiration date
  • Offer short description - this is typically a brief explanation of the offer
  • Offer long description (optional) — this may include additional qualifiers or details about the product. Availability may be dependent on whether the website allows or has room for this additional verbiage.
  • Purchase Requirements — often this is also included in the offer short descriptions, but it can be noted again in relation to face value (e.g., $0.50 off 2)
  • Legal Copy— these are often provided via a link, a “hover” or “pop-up
  • Limitations — this may be contained within short description, terms and conditions, or states separately (e.g., “Limit 2 per household” or “Excludes trial size”)
  • Issuers should also consider associating each offer with a product category to support search and filter capabilities.*

In addition to these recommendations, fetch code is a required element and E-commerce code on applicable coupons.

Mobile Barcode Selection

Universal Digital Coupons do not have a barcode standard at this time, the purpose of this stance was to provide all industries room for future innovation as new scanning capabilities gain market traction. Our current recommendation is the use of a QR Code with a secondary code-128 barcode for optimal consumer experience.

More information on presentment recommendations can be found in the Provider Technical Guide located in the TCB portal.

Provider Certification

Our Provider Certification ensures all providers have appropriately developed the minimum functionality required to distribute AI (8112) coupons to consumers.  The components of certification are as follows: 

  1. Ability to successfully deposit non-sequential serialized data strings

  2. Ability to successfully delete serialized data strings

  3. Apply fetch code to consumer experience

  4. Submit a link to your digital consumer experience for review or submit a coupon proof for paper coupons (for paper coupons vendors only).

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