John Ross | July 18, 2014

With so much industry focus on targeted distribution of offers and maintaining the free flow of promotions through open networks, it's understandable that settlement is being viewed, by many, as a "commodity" and approached with the mindset that this service should be priced, negotiated and purchased as such. While it's easy to characterize settlement as simply an accounting function, (and always appropriate to consider cost), there are much broader and more business-critical aspects that must be considered when assessing and choosing a partner for your coupon processing.

Of course, it all begins with secure and expedient processing — the "blocking and tackling" of coupons — but settlement has to provide more than just invoicing and reimbursement. Insightful data must be delivered that is immediately accessible; there must be full financial analytics available for trading partners to better manage budgets and plan for optimized future promotions; and the highest level of security must be provided to protect clients against coupon fraud and counterfeiting.

Accurate and timely settlement is the minimum expectation of any client and the undebatable, baseline deliverable of any reputable processor. Inmar has been executing coupon processing for companies of every size for more than 34 years while maintaining an accuracy rating of more than 99 percent. This level of performance is the result of continuous operational improvements at our Mexico facilities combined with the consistent application of the most rigorous audit practices and policies throughout our process.

A truly engaged processor should also keep clients — and the industry — informed about counterfeit activity and be empowered to mitigate the risk of fraud and the associated costs. This is a particular strength for Inmar. We have two departments dedicated to combatting fraud and working to ensure payment only for legitimate coupons and we've made strategic alliances to strengthen our fraud protection capabilities.

We offer a host of redemption monitoring services and a new internet monitoring service that webcrawls through the "dark places" where Google won't go to find and stop counterfeit coupons before they arrive at checkout. The addition of internet monitoring to our suite of services is just one example of the investment Inmar continues to make in its core settlement and settlement-related functions in order to provide clients with better controls.

As for financial analytics, we pioneered this discipline within the promotions industry and we've invested heavily in developing robust, user-friendly analytic tools — like our Coupon Management Web App — that deliver relevant submission and redemption data to retailers and manufacturers for both paper and digital promotions. With its customizable dashboard, threshold alerts, notification emails and reporting/exporting capabilities, the Coupon Management Web App provides immediate, must-have visibility into budgets, redemption activity and overall offer performance. Whether it's a matter of reconciling receivables or managing expenses by business unit, the needed transparency is there. And, users can leverage the system's leading-edge functionality to answer specific business questions, identify potential trends and forecast future financial scenarios.

Whether it's managing transactions worth millions of dollars, providing superior systems and services or taking down counterfeiters, Inmar is proactive and intent on helping clients grow their business. We are constantly measuring ourselves and looking for ways to deliver more to our clients because we know that securing settlement is not a commodity buy when what we deliver impacts finance, marketing, audit, store operations, trade marketing and loss prevention.

Settlement isn't a commodity — it's a commitment. It's a commitment Inmar has kept with clients for 34 years and counting...

I welcome your thoughts on the role a settlement provider should play and invite you to share your comments in the comments section below.