Discussion Topics

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These are discussion topics of the Digital Offers Community Group.

CG Participants are encouraged to add new discussion points and use cases following the poliy for this page. The group reviews proposals and documents here consensus discussion points and use cases.

Questions? public-digitaloffers@w3.org.

Experimental: Experimental Digital Offers Use Cases Document



Status: Adopted 30 Jan 2017

  • CG Participants are encouraged to propose new discussion points and use cases in the section with that title below.
  • The CG will establish a process for assessing consensus for those proposals. When there is consensus, the Chair or staff move the proposals into the "consensus" section below.
  • Consensus material may be changed when there is group consensus to do so. The Chair and staff may make non-controversial editorial changes (including to the structure of this page) without group discussion.
  • At this time, the consensus process is support during a CG teleconference, but that process may evolve to include calls for consensus by email, etc.
  • This policy may change by group decision.

Good Practice for Use Cases

Note: This is expected to evolve as we gain experience!

  • Provide a short label for each use case that reflects the main point of the use case.
  • Avoid overlapping use cases.
  • Be terse, but provide enough information to make the key point of the use case.
  • Indicate under which discussion topic you think we should add the use case.
  • Sign your proposal. We'll remove your name once the proposals has been adopted.
  • Notify the Community Group of new use cases by email to public-digitaloffers@w3.org.

In the section below on new use cases, there is a template and example.

Consensus Discussion Points and Use Cases

Note: Please do not edit these points and use cases or add new ones until there is group consensus to do so.

Topics are grouped by these themes:

  • Management and Distribution -- how coupons are managed and made available to users
  • User Action -- how users clip, store, review, and redeem coupons (or pair an offer with a buy action) during a transaction
  • Settlement -- how merchants and coupon distributors settle

Management and Distribution

Decentralized Lookup

  • One way of determining whether a coupon applies to a given product is to look up the coupon code in a database provided by an aggregation service or other third party. Merchants that make use of these services typically update local copies of these databases frequently.
  • Not all merchants rely on these databases (e.g., due to cost).
  • It would be useful, therefore, for these merchants to be able to communicate directly with Consumer Packaged Goods companies and other coupon distributors.

Question: What is necessary to enable coupon distributors and merchants to exchange information directly about coupons and digital offers? How will offline use be managed?

Distribution to Mobile Devices without App Installation

  • Merchants would like to push digital offers to their customers, for example when the customer is physically near or in a store using geofencing beacon technology.
  • There are also use cases where users discover offers (e.g., in-store) and may wish to transfer them to their mobile devices.
  • While some users may be willing to install software (e.g., apps) to manage coupons, there is also usability friction to installing an app.

Question: What is necessary for merchants to push offers to customers (with their consent) without requiring software installation?

Controls on Distribution

  • Due to (e.g., regulatory) constraints on the distribution of coupons or other digital offers to some people (e.g., minors), some merchants may wish to limit access to digital coupons to authorized parties. Constraints may vary, and include age and location.
  • The shift from paper to digital means that offers may be effortlessly copied and transmitted, raising new questions for marketers about how to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns, how to associate offers with individuals, etc.

Question: To achieve the goal of limiting distribution of digital offers, what mechanisms are in use today (e.g., people make assertions of their age on Web sites)? Is there evidence that these mechanisms are inadequate or prevent broader usage of digital offers? Do digital marketers have standard mechanisms to be able to measure the impact of, for example, targeted advertising?

User Action

Interoperable Clip and Save

  • In the world of paper coupons, consumers clip and save them. It is not as easy with digital coupons.

Question: What is necessary to enable consumers to clip and save digital coupons interoperably, so that coupon distributors can more easily reach a variety of applications, and applications can more easily receive coupons from a variety of distributors?

Redemption of Offers Received "Out of App"

  • Above we talked about users receiving offers without having to install apps.

Question: Once a user has received "out of app" offers, how does the user enter them into the transaction flow (e.g., via a QR code or bar code or NFC at a Point of Sale)? What identity requirements might there be (e.g., to be able to map the offer back to the point-of-sale transaction)?

Streamlined Redemption during Standardized Checkout

  • Today there is no common way for consumers to redeem digital offers during checkout.
  • One idea is to augument the protocols in development in the Web Payments Working Group to make it easier to select and redeem coupons and other digital offers during the same flow when users select payment instruments.

Question: What is necessary to enable consumers to redeem saved coupons during checkout?

Multi-tender Payments - Combining Coupons and Money

  • During checkout, customers would like to choose combinations of payment methods and digital offers to "get the best deal."
  • In some cases, the best deal may require multi-tender payment capabilities (e.g., paying with a combination of points and also local currency via a credit card).
  • The API in development in the Web Payments Working Group does not readily support multi-tender payments.
  • NOTE: Application of discounts by merchant that lowers transaction amount is not included in multi-tender use cases.

Question: What is necessary to support multi-tender payments (including application of digital offers and payment methods) during checkout?

Use cases

Online multi-tender: Jane is buying a sweater online at BigClothingRetailer. The total bill for her item is $23.50 USD. BigClothingRetailer has a loyalty rewards program by where consumers can earn points which can be redeemed on future purchases. Jane has 200 points which equates to a $2 discount. Jane would like to apply the $2 discount and pay the remaining balance of $21.50 with her credit card.

Instore multi-tender: John is buying fuel and a 12-oz BigCola at LocalPetro. The total bill for his purchase is $35.00 USD. BigCola has sent John a digital offer for $0.50 off a 12-oz BigCola. John would like to use the $.50 offer and pay the remaining balance of $34.50 with his credit card.

Controls on Redemption

Merchants and manufacturers (CPGs) often want to limit the redemption of offers. For example:

  • If recipients were vetted for marketing or age appropriateness, stakeholders may want to limit redemption of an offer to the original offer recipient.
  • For regulatory, tax, or other financial reasons, stakeholders may want to limit redemption of offers to the original offer recipient.
  • For financial reasons, stakeholders may want limit redemption to a single instance or a maximum amount.
  • For marketing reasons, merchants may wish to require that offers only be redeemable when accompanied by loyalty program or other identity information. Note that identity information may also be required for settlement when redemption has an impact on loyalty programs (e.g., double points for purchase of certain products).
  • Stakeholders may also want to limit redemption for other reasons, such as product choice, payment method, physical regions or specific merchant locations.
  • For limiting fraud, stakeholders may want to be able to verify that an offer is legitimate or that an offer was processed as expected.

Question: What is necessary to allow the issuers of offers to ensure that offers are only used by those for whom they are intended, that offers can’t be copied and reused without any control, and that offers can only be used for certain products with a fixed maximum discount or in conjunction with certain payment types? Is anything new required for the Web to ensure that constraints can be communicated to users (since no longer printed on coupons)?


Near Real-Time Funding

  • Merchants want to streamline the settlement process in order to be funded for redeemed offers as soon as possible.
  • Digital offers, when redeemed, presumably will be known close to real-time to distributors (e.g. CPG’s, brokers) and where the offer was redeemed.
  • Funding may be available either through a direct to consumer offer from CPG or a merchant created offer with marketing-related funding from a CPG.
    • Note: We also recognize batch processing will continue to play a role in the ecosystem and can be discussed along with this topic.

Question: What is necessary to enable the transfer of funds, as close to real-time, to merchants for redeemed offers from a distributor?

Ability to Distinguish Funding Sources

  • Offers may be funded from a variety of sources (including the merchant)
  • Merchants need to distinguish the funding sources for individual offers for several reasons, including reconciliation and to determine reimbursement eligibility.

Question: For reconciliation and reimbursement, what is necessary to distinguish funding sources?

New Discussion Points and Use Cases

Note: Add use cases and new discussion points here, then notify the Community Group by mail to public-digitaloffers@w3.org.

Suggested template:

== Your Short Label ==
Your text...your text. 

For: Relevant Discussion Topic
By: Your Name


==Online multi-tender== 
Jane is buying a sweater online at BigClothingRetailer. The total bill for her item is $23.50 USD. 
BigClothingRetailer has a loyalty rewards program by where consumers can earn points which can be 
redeemed on future purchases. Jane has 200 points which equates to a $2 discount. Jane would like 
to apply the $2 discount and pay the remaining balance of $21.50 with her credit card. 

For: Multi-tender Payments - Combining Coupons and Money
By: Linda Toth

Add your new use cases here!

Decentralized Lookup

Third Party Coupon Use, Offline

The user attempts to redeem a coupon not from the merchant. During the transaction, the retailer is unable to check his database for this particular coupon as the system is offline.

Note: Merchant decisions at this point may vary depending on available information (e.g., family codes), business preferences, etc.

By: Kylie Davies

Distribution to Mobile Devices without App Installation

While these use cases are very similar (and belong to the same topic), they are potentially different enough to warrant discussion. For all of these, the user will want to clip and save the coupon (Interoperable Clip and Save).

By: David Ezell
Note from Kylie Davies: There are numerous formats to be included here. Email coupons, SMS coupons, loyalty card, physical coupons, social media distributed coupons, push notifications, in-app and mobile wallet stored coupons.


Elaine scans her email inbox, and comes across a direct marketing campaign notice with an electronic coupon attached.

Merchant Website

While reading "Highly Reliable News" online, Doug sees a link for an offer on light bulbs at the Home Store. The image takes him to the Home Store website, with a link allowing the digital offer for the light bulbs to be downloaded and stored in Doug's digital wallet.

Point of Purchase

As Liz walks in to Home Store, her mobile phone picks up a blue-tooth beacon which automatically awards her Loyalty points, as well as downloading a coupon for a free cup of Starmac's coffee. Delighted, she heads straight for the Starmac's counter to caffeinate before continuing.

Manufacturer Website

(Mostly, this use case is a placeholder to capture how manufacturers are different; very similar to the "merchant website" case for now.) While reading "Highly Reliable News" online, Doug sees a link for an offer on a 12-pack of BeerBev. The image clicks through to the BeerBev website, with a link providing access to the offer. Note: Like tobacco offers, alcohol offers may be subject to regulation.

From social media

(Similar to David's examples, this use case is a placeholder to capture how manufacturers are different; specifically with regards to how they present offers using social media to convert leads into sales). Not sure if this would come within the limits of a digital marketing strategy as this use case links to advertising, PPC and use of display network marketing.

Annie has been looking to purchase a new camera and has made a primary search on google. After reviewing a few products on various manufacturer sites, she neglects to make a purchase. Later in the day, Annie is reviewing her newsfeed on Facebook when a targeted advert is shown on her page, which offers Annie a 15% discount on any camera within the manufacturer's range. Annie clicks on the ad, which takes her to the main retailer/manufacturer site and Annie commits to a purchase using the discount.

Question: Is it feasible for targeted offers to be re-used/shared when presented on social media platforms?

By: Kylie Davies

Signup from SMS message

Rory is a loyal football fan and has downloaded the BT Sport App which allows him to watch all of his favourite sports 'on the go'. A third party company named 'FootyFan' has recently partnered with BT Sport which offer pre-release and last-minute discounted seats at local football matches. Rory, receives an SMS from BT Sport inviting him to signup to FootyFan by using a unique discount code and a link to their website.

Receive offer from SMS message

Claire is a loyalty card holder at Walmart and recently visited the store with her bluetooth signal 'on'. Based on her previous basket history and through beacon technology, claire received an SMS whilst pondering the beauty aisle. The SMS offered claire a 2-4-1 deal on her favourite shampoo which she could either store in her mobile wallet or use at the checkout using the discount code provided.

By: Kylie Davies

Receive offer via Digital Wallet

Joyce owns a local coffee shop. Joyce provides digital loyalty cards to her customers. Harold, a customer, receives on of these digital loyalty cards and places it in his digital wallet. Joyce sends a digital offer to Harold via the messaging component of her digital loyalty card, which is then stored directly into Harold's wallet after he clicks "Accept Offer".

By: Manu Sporny

Controls on Distribution

Age restriction

TobaccoInc knows Bill is a smoker who is over the legal age for tobacco products. TobaccoInc sends Bill a digital offer to use on their products.

TobaccoInc knows Sally is a smoker but cannot verify her age. TobaccoInc cannot send Sally a digital offer to use on their products.

By: Linda Toth


MyProduct creates a coupon that they want to go viral.

Note from Joerg: Certain transactions will have to take place whenever such a coupon is replicated, including authentication, creation of derived coupons, etc.

By: Jörg Heuer

Redemption of Offers Received "Out of App"

At fuel pump, without entering retail store

While using the browser in his car to pay for fuel, Jim adds BeerBev to his list of items to purchase without leaving the car, and uses a previously acquired coupon to reduce the cost.

Note: some offers might be valid with a "fill-up" on fuel (e.g. 10+ gal), which is a different kind of restriction. While the mechanics of such restrictions are probably out-of-scope, information enabling such restrictions to be applied is essential.

By: David Ezell

From Digital Wallet

Glenda received a digital offer notification from her favorite sandwich shop at 10am, which she stored in her digital wallet. It is now lunch time and she would like to use the digital offer to purchase lunch. She opens her digital wallet, clicks "Buy" on the recent offer, and is given a redemption code, which is stored in her digital wallet. She walks into the store, shows her code, gets her sandwich, and walks out.

By: Manu Sporny

Streamlined Redemption during Standardized Checkout

Easy Digital Offer Storage and Redemption

A consumer has many coupons for a variety of products from many different retailers (potentially dozens or even hundreds). During a purchase a consumer can share their digital wallet with the retailer such that all valid coupons for items being purchased are recognized and easily delivered to the merchant with little effort on behalf of the consumer.

By: Adam Lake

NFC and QR Codes

A consumer completes transaction at retailer store using a mobile wallet on their phone which includes his payment card, retailer loyalty card and synced third party/alliance partner loyalty ID. Assumption: Retailer site either has NFC Tags or QR code reader to complete the transaction with this device.

By: Kylie Davies

Controls on Redemption

Based on payment method selection

Todd has a digital coupon for his favorite beverage, and would like to include it in payment for fuel through his mobile browser. However, he selects his NoFoodFuel fleet card (given to drivers at Todd's company), and that card specifically allows fuel sales only, so his request is rejected.

By: David Ezell

Based on previous use

Jim received an offer for BevBeer via email, which he had stored in his digital wallet and then redeemed at his local supermarket. Now running low, he reloads the coupon from the original email into his digital wallet. When attempts to redeem the offer later using an on-line delivery service, the offer is rejected as having already been used.

Note: Ian wonders if we should be thinking about a protocol that enables status updates so that payments can refresh coupons. Linda thinks that providing status data might enable payment apps to improve the user experience in a variety of ways.

By: David Ezell

Based on customer segment/expired coupon

A consumer uses a self-service checkout to complete a transaction and attempt to use an expired coupon or an offer not applicable to her. The customer swipes/presents her loyalty card and coupon and the coupon is declined. A busy retail assistant attempts to help the customer and does not review the coupon to confirm it has expired/is N/A to this customer and in a hurry overrides the system to accept this as a 'generic' coupon.

Note: David points out that this use is similar to the "invalid coupon" use case (e.g., forged coupon).

Note: On 13 Feb we discussed coupon validation. While validation may be important, Ian has argued that validation should be out of scope.

By: Kylie Davies

Individualized Coupon Issuance

Through purchase history data a merchant knows that a particular consumer was regularly purchasing a specific item but has not done so in a while. In an attempt to kick start the old behavior the merchant sends a digital coupon for the item to the consumers mobile phone. The merchant only wants that coupon to be redeemable by that consumer and rejects it if another person attempts to redeem it. A variant is to allow the coupon to be shared, but only redeemable once.

Note: We note that per device is easier than per person. This use case and others point at strong authentication requirements.

By: Adam Lake

'One per Customer' Coupon - Discount Code

A consumer uses a discount code he received from a 3rd party site (e.g. vouchercodes.com) and applies it to his basket total before check-out. The merchant wants to limit this discount code use to 'one per customer' and to ensure controls requests basic contact information. However, the same consumer on a separate occasion reuses the discount code by simply using different contact information e.g. a second email address.

Note: QR code representation of data is a variation.

By: Kylie Davies

Tracking coupons after offline acceptance

The merchant accepts a third-party coupon while offline but tracks it under a generic discount code.

By: Kylie Davies

Age restriction, in person redemption

David is 20 years old and is planning a house party for his birthday. He's been searching online to find deals on alcohol and signs up to a manufacturer site which sells alcohol, using a fake age. Following his search online, David identifies a targeted coupon has been sent to his email account (which includes a barcode). David attempts to redeem the coupon at his local retailer using a self service checkout. While the barcode was accepted, David was unable to complete the transaction without a Supervisor's approval code.

Note: Use case attempting to highlight limited verification tools/parameters online regarding age restricted goods. Relates to verifiable claims use cases.

By: Kylie Davies

Age restriction, in person redemption

(The same) David uses his Fuels retail loyalty app (whilst sat in his vehicle) to purchase Fuel and Alcohol at his local fuel station. Following payment (via the app), he opts for the product to be brought out to his vehicle. It's a busy time at the fuel station and the forecourt attendant does not ID check David. David receives his purchase and drives off the forecourt.

Question: Whilst there is an assumption that the staff will check a customer's age, in this scenario, is there In-app age verification in place?

By: Kylie Davies

Interoperable Redemption Across Systems

Problem Statement at a High Level

  • It is hard to use value in partnerships and between multiple parties (where parties are redeeming or issuing value that resolves on the account table of another business).

Requirements For Offers

  • Need to be unique (function more like a gift card), not generic (like a promo code)
  • Need to support a variety of rules and restrictions
  • Need to be easily issued (automation, partnership, campaigns) and redeemed
  • Need to support marketing efforts (e.g., through personalization, attribution) since data is the currency of the modern marketer.


  • I am a manufacturer, brand, supplier, or vendor and I want to issue unique, rule-based promotional coupons for better marketing attribution and improved targeting and better data. I may issue coupons for a percent off discount, for a dollar amount discount, or buy-one-get-one-free. My coupons may be applicable all of my products or limited to only some of my products. Coupons may only be valid if certain products are included in my purchase (eg. buy-one-get-one-free, buy-one-get-one-for-fifty-percent-off). As a retailer or partner, I want to be able to redeem these unique coupons (and support their rules) without needing to build into a custom coupon database for each of my suppliers, vendors, etc. As a retailer, I also want to be able to easily track unique coupon redemptions so I can receive credit from the manufacturer/brand for successful redemptions.
  • I am a retailer or brand. I am running a co-promotion with another business who will issue rewards, coupons or vouchers to customers on my behalf (eg. If someone buys more than $200 worth of items at a partner store, they get a $10 voucher for my brand).

Interop Benefit

A cross-ecosystem (e.g. mobile wallets, checkouts, web-connected point of sale systems, marketing automation tools, advertising solutions, partners) standard enabling the distribution and redemption of unique, data-rich, rule-based, bearer-held value (coupons, vouchers, gift cards, points, credits) would enable a more consistent consumer experience and more effective promotions.

For: User Action - Controls on Redemption
By: Leif Baradoy

Near Real-Time Funding

Merchant coupon reimbursement in sale

Polly pays for fuel and SoftBev items through her mobile browser in the fueling forecourt. There is an offer for for the SoftBev items in her digital wallet, which gets applied automatically to the payment transaction (based on her selection of a SoftBev product). SoftBev, on seeing the redemption, credits the merchant immediately for the cost of the offer.

Note: there is a good bit of choreography necessary to make this use case work.

By: David Ezell

Other Topics that Might Lead to Use Cases

Loyalty Card

Originally in the Digital Offers group, we talked about coupons and loyalty, and have shortened that to "digital offers." Loyalty deals are a major way that merchants reach out to customers. There are use cases for rewards and for redemption, both at the time of purchase. There are also life cycle use cases (we might or might not deem these out of scope), as well as integration with coupon (more standard digital offers) reward and redemption.

By: David Ezell

Digital Offer Tracking

For Digital MARKETING on the web, tracking the effectiveness of any effort is essential. Marketers use three terms to express what they want to track:

  • Reach - did the customer actually see the ad.
  • Resonance - did the customer interact with the ad in a way that indicated a positive disposition.
  • Reaction - did the customer "click through" to purchase. I.e. was the ad ultimately effective.

These tracking points are (I think) essential for digital offers to be effective, where "effective" means that those making the offers get the right feedback on their efforts. Obviously, there are privacy concerns.

By: David Ezell