How to keep coupons from being duplicated


I am running a company and have seen groupon work for some other biz owners I know. But I was thinking about running a small promo for myself and giving out coupons but am not sure how to keep my customers from photo copying them and giving them to all their friends...

How is this done?

Advertising Business Development

asked Apr 26 '13 at 08:14
Tj Sherrill
129 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • "how to keep my customers from photocopying them and giving them to all their friends" Now why what be a bad thing? – Frenchie 7 years ago

4 Answers


Give each coupon a unique identifier (a serial number in effect) and then track when a coupon is used recording the used identifier to prevent it being used multiple times.

Another option is to plan the promo in such a way that you have to do nothing and actually use people photocopying them as free marketing - it might not work in your scenario but it is worth considering.

answered Apr 26 '13 at 08:23
735 points
  • I feel like this is how groupon works to some extent. I am just not sure how they do it... I go into a store with my phone (groupon app) and i bring up the barcode and they scan it at the POS... Just not sure how the business POS knows not to accept that coupon again! – Tj Sherrill 7 years ago


Serial numbers are effective situationally. If your coupon is worth dying for, it isnt too hard for me to scan the coupon and change the last digit in the serial number. A couple of ways that I can think of which you can do it :

  1. Coupon website Most coupon websites will run this campaign for you when your category of business is up in their schedule. I dont run a business so I dont know if they charge a fee for it. If you go through such websites they make sure of the uniqueness of the coupons.
  2. DIY Do it yourself. Keep a track of who you are handing out the coupon to. With an entry in your books like 'name details-coupon details'. Everytime someone uses a coupon you will have to look up this list and see if the person has used this coupon or no. If you aer a small business owner this might work best.
  3. If you have a website and a technical person handy you can cook up your own authentication mechanism. Leaving out some more complex technical details, all you will then need to know is if that coupon number is authentic or has been used/unused and who purchased it and whether if it was bought as a gift etc. If you are a sizeable shop or know you will grow and know you will want to keep handing out coupons, this will be a very good investment.


answered Apr 27 '13 at 00:47
151 points
  • I am hoping to go the DIY route but just trying to make sure I understand the game before I get hammered by it. My hope is to figure out how to create a set of values in my POS and go from there. – Tj Sherrill 7 years ago
  • What r ur rules around coupon? Depending on the rules coupon it should be fairly simple albeit time consuming every time some one flashes their coupon. In an excel sheet note down the coupon serial number and the customer name (if this was given to an existing customer). say 001:HappyBuddha, 002:HappyBuddha1 etc.. so when Happybuddha comes and flashes his coupon all you got to do is verify if the holder of the coupon is happybuddha and do a ctrl+f in the excel sheet and search for the serial no. 001. If found validated, you can mark it as consumed (another column in the sheet). hth – Happybuddha 7 years ago


You will have to get Coupon Codes. Coupon barcodes are complex barcodes that allow greater flexibility for marketing your products, tracking the results of your coupon campaigns, and preventing fraud.
Barcodes for coupons consist of two parts:
1) The left portion of the coupon barcode encodes information relating the coupon back to your item, your family code, and the value of the coupon.

2) The right portion of your coupon barcode, referred to as a GS1 Databar, represents a recent upgrade to coupon code technology. The GS1 Databar encodes a lot of information in a small space and represents the part of the coupon barcode where we can encode the most details of your promotion.
In this GS1 Databar portion of your coupon code may rules can be encoded such as:

1) Exact expiration date
2) Very specific purchase requirements
3) Value of the coupon (such as $0.15 off)
4) Whether you give the retailer permission to double the coupon
5) Exact start of your coupon

Read this for more information about Coupon Bar Codes and how to buy them

answered Jul 22 '13 at 20:00
Elliott Maynard
1 point


In addition to coupon codes (you don't need full blown serial numbers unless you're scanning them (then you need barcodes)), you should also consider setting an expiration date, and even a possible start date.

A very interesting emerging new trend is QR codes, but I haven't tried these yet.

answered Apr 27 '13 at 06:06
Random Us1r
123 points

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