My shop will gladly accept a competitor's discount coupons

Welcome to my shop! We have everything that you want to buy. We accept cash, cards, and any discount coupons or vouchers from any other shop!

Got a 10% off with Amazon? We'll take it!

Buy 1 get 3 free from CostCo? Roll right up!

Free TV with every HDMI cable purchased from Fred's Electronics Warehouse? Give it here!

Does that sound likely? Stores normally accept manufacturer discounts quite happily, but don't take vouchers from their rivals. It happens, occasionally, I'll grant you. But it is fraught with risk. There's usually no way to check the legitimacy of a rival's coupon (i.e. was it issued by them). Even if there were, there's no way to check its validity (i.e. has it already been used). And it is impossible to prevent them flooding the market (i.e. printing millions of vouchers).

In short, there's very little to stop a malicious actor from creating fake vouchers or re-using duplicate ones. And your rival could attempt to bankrupt you by offering excessive discounts which you are then obliged to cover.

Once in a while there's an attempt to form a cross-industry solution to this. For example, in the UK the Nectar scheme attempts to combine multiple shops' discount and reward schemes. But, these are subject to some fairly strict internal rules. You don't want another member of the scheme to allow users to cheaply accumulate millions of points that another member then has to cash-out.

Hey, let's switch subject and talk about the fucking BlockChain!!!!!


Fine. So with an unfalisifiable ledger Shop X could see that Shop Y has issued Voucher Z. That solves legitimacy. A double-spend proof 'chain solves the validity issue.

But nothing can prevent the market manipulation of someone generating billions of their own vouchers. What if, say, Amazon minted some 99% discount vouchers, issued them to itself, and then bought a rival's stock at a massive discount?

No one would willingly expose themselves to such risk.

It's the same with the farcical notion that NFTs mean that you'll be able to use assets from one computer game in another.

Let's ignore the (many) technical aspects of importing textures, polygons, animations, and sound effects from different engines. Let's say it magically just works.

What does it even mean to have The Witcher's Manticore Silver Sword up against Mass Effect's Asari Sword? Who calculates which is the most powerful?

Nothing is stopping a game publisher from creating a God-tier weapon for free and flooding the market with it. Now every multiplayer game of Super Smash Bros is besieged by players with Doom's BFG9000.

If you can import any item from any other game - it only takes one person to start giving out free stuff to completely destabilise any game.

In which case, game publishers will form their own little cartels to prevent market manipulation by outsiders.

Does that require a Blockchain? I concede, a private chain between rivalrous parties might be useful. But given it's a private chain - it might as well be a shared database with the power of veto from each member.

Thinking things through

Press releases and marketing statements are brilliant. All you need to do is talk at the very highest level about what the future might look like. You don't need to trouble yourself with practicalities. You don't ever need to stray from the happy-path. No looking any deeper than the surface.

I'm not saying you need a supplicant permanently whispering in your ear "sic transit gloria mundi" - but having a naysayer prod the edges of your idea is always a good plan.

2 thoughts on “My shop will gladly accept a competitor's discount coupons

  1. One of the early dragons den pitches I remember was supposed to have been a 3rd party marketplace for exchanging gift cards for cash. Given how gift cards are now currency for scams, I can't imagine it would have gone well.

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