How to calculate coupon fees


I am starting a coupon website of local vendors, but I don't know how to calculate the fees.

For example, a vendor on my site offers a coupon for 15% off on a product's price, or 15% off for any purchase above $50. A visitor clicks and prints the coupon. How do I calculate the fee for this type of coupon? The vendor has offered 15% off on any item above $50. I cannot track what the customer bought in store, so I can't charge a percent of the product price.


asked Nov 29 '12 at 21:24
Stanford Sequeira
42 points
  • I can't understand exactly what is your problem.... can you explain with an example? – Hola Soy Edu Feliz Navidad 10 years ago
  • Me either. Don't understand. Better to describe the process. – Billy Chan 10 years ago
  • @HolaSoyEduFelizNavidad hi, I have edited the question with an example. do let me know if you have understood it. – Stanford Sequeira 10 years ago
  • @BillyChan hi, I edited my question with an example, hope that makes it easier to understand. – Stanford Sequeira 10 years ago

3 Answers


Do as real-life coupons do: add a unique ID to each coupon, and ask the vendor to send a copy of the invoice with the coupon ID.

You don't have to track the customer in the store, just need to correlate the final sale with the coupon.

answered Nov 30 '12 at 05:15
121 points
  • true but most merchants would get fed up after sometime- giving the invoice everytime. They might consider it to be cumbersome. – Stanford Sequeira 10 years ago


I agree with Javier regarding the unique identifier, be it just a number or a QR code.

Furthermore, to eliminate paperwork you could create a page/service (as part of your site) which will allow vendors to keep track of purchases made with coupons. This page will pull/push information to a database. This way vendors will know how many sales / what profit they made from your coupons. You might even have this page compute your fee based on the value of the sale.

Why would vendors use this service?
A: less paperwork; save time; it's free.

How do you encourage honesty?
A: if a particular vendor meets a quota ($5,000/month in sales), you will reduce your fee from 4% to 3%.

answered Nov 30 '12 at 06:00
11 points


The tracking is easy for online stores. However you are facing local vendors who only close deals behind the counter, it's rather a challenge.

A simple way is to rely on the vendors to report them to you, like Javier said. However, when you make money by commission, your earning will highly depend on the vendors' honesty and motivation. That's not so reliable as a business model.

Did you ever consider another model? That is, instead of earning commission, you charge advertising fees. That will make things much simple, and easy to scale.

  • You'll charge the vendors by the position and duration of their coupons on your site.
  • You help them to design the coupon banner to make your site's looking consistent.
  • The vendor knows their fixed cost(the ad fee on your site), so they may make more aggressive discount to get the cost back.
  • You show off your traffic stats, promotion plans and case studies to increase fee in the future.

To get traffic, you can:

  • Spread prints on the street.
  • Advertise your site on local new paper, local classified.
  • Advertise your site online by targeting local visitors.

In the future, you could try more interesting ideas such as a mobile app to show coupons when check-in etc.

Just some ideas for your reference.

Reply to Stanford's comment

The comment form may be short, so I reply here.

No matter upfront or commission, the end result will all depend on the promotion effectiveness. When you use commission model, you'll still have the concern of losing your own investment. The risk is transferred to your side, but the nature is unchanged.

I suggested ad model because there is no easy way to track local vendor sales, to my knowledge.

When using ad model, the only thing you can track precisely is how much coupons of each id get printed. When time passing, you may also get a rough idea of how each type of coupons converted, by visiting vendors and talking with them. Something may convert better and something may be less, you'll have the rough picture.

Now back to the question.

If you feel hard to persuade clients at initial stage, and that should be, you can offer a free trial or a big discount for trial to kick-start. You'll see the numbers how many coupons printed, so you'll know if your efforts take effect or not, no matter clients pay you or not at this moment.

After you have numbers(the printed coupon and visitors etc), you'll have something to show off and be confident.

Some Future Idea

Some other ideas for your consideration after your initial success, and have time/money to invest on some technology.

  • Limited quantity coupon: The visitor see the coupon, click print, the system ask him to verify, say a mobile phone number. After verified, he can print the coupon, and coupon quantity displayed will be decreased by one. This is powerful than plain coupon.
  • Direct deal: You establish a mini e-commerce system. Visitor see the deal, buy it, get the receipt, and then use receipt to consume the vendor's service or product.

Hope these help.

answered Nov 30 '12 at 13:16
Billy Chan
1,179 points
  • I did consider the upfront payment model, like you suggested. I planned to charge them upfront a certain fee for every coupon they offer. more over they will have templates to design their own coupon on the site. BUT, the problem is if they are offering the coupon for a certain period, and no one prints the coupon, the upfront model will be considered for them as a bad investment, and they might not offer coupons through us again, and that is why I had planned to use the post paid pricing. do you have any advice as to how I can navigate this problem? thanks in advance! – Stanford Sequeira 10 years ago
  • @StanfordSequeira, please check my revised version – Billy Chan 10 years ago
  • Thanks for your reply! Agree with what you said. But do you think if I charge them a listing fee (1$-2$), and then charge them further for promoting it, would make sense? Or charge them per coupon downloaded would make better sense? – Stanford Sequeira 10 years ago
  • "charge them further for promoting it" is similar to charge by #1(impressions). This will be better than #2(fixed fees) and #3(commissions), and #4(downloads). Pros for #1: You have enough motivation to promote. Cons for #1: Not sure clients will accept this, as pageviews are too easy to manipulate. Why #1 or #2 better than #4: You give clients more motivation to increase discount. – Billy Chan 10 years ago
  • Thanks for your response ! I do agree with you. But when I start out site impressions will be low, So I thought Of charging promotion on fixed fee per day basis ( 1$ per day for unlimited impressions) ( I would do this till I have good impression to charge on CPM) and they could run the promotion for however long they want - does this makes sense to you? – Stanford Sequeira 10 years ago
  • I understand starting is hard, that's why I suggest you offer free trial period if using fixed fee model. How about you work with several vendors closely for certain period for free, say two weeks or a month, visit them frequently and watch the process. They won't hide anything if this is free, and they can leave testimonials. You always need experience and client base in the beginning. It's hard to expect earning from day one. – Billy Chan 10 years ago

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