A barcode is a picture containing a series of bold black horizontal lines that make up a code. This code can only be read by the light from a barcode scanner, which you commonly see in supermarkets and bookstores. The formal name for the barcode that you see on coupons is a GS1-128 coupon code (formerly UCC). When the coupon code is scanned, the computer can tell its value (the discount) and the products with which it is associated. You can create one of these codes using convenient online services.
Become a member of GS1 US. Visit its website to apply (see References). You will be issued a UPC (Universal Product Code) membership number and a UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) company prefix, which you'll need for your coupons.
Find a reliable online barcode service that you can use regularly, whenever you need to print a new set of coupons for your business. One example is CreateBarcodes.com.
Choose the option for a UPC coupon code. Enter both your UPC and UCC number, which was given to you in Step 1, when requested.
Set the magnification option and the resolution for your barcode. 100% magnification and 2540 resolution is common, but ask your graphic designer exactly what he needs for your coupon design.
Enter the coupon value code (see Resources), which identifies how much the user will receive off of her order when the coupon is scanned, and an offer code, which you as the manufacturer define and use to track your offers. Also, enter the product family code when prompted. Finally, include an expiration date, which will automatically reject the coupon if the retailer does not notice that it is expired.
Purchase the finished coupon barcode. The file (either an EPS or JPEG format) will be emailed to you. Now when someone uses this coupon to purchase your product in a retail store, the discount will be deducted automatically.
Items you will need
Online barcode generation service
You can also purchase software that will generate barcodes for you on demand, such as BarCode Pro by Hallogram Publishing or BarcodeMaker by Wasp. These programs can be fairly expensive (ranging from about $100 to $400) but the investment may be worth it if you plan to print many coupons for your business.