Every couple of months, I take an in depth look at the search keywords that people use to arrive at our online store. In addition, I also use keyword tools to see whether people are doing searches for our business directly.
Much to my surprise, I found that some amount of searches were for the term “Bumblebee Linens coupons” or “hanky coupons bumblebee” etc… I guess it’s only natural that shoppers search for coupons.
But the truth is that we rarely give out coupons yet we prominently display a coupon code field during checkout. The fact that customers are looking for coupons makes me wonder whether they are prematurely exiting the checkout process in search for nonexistant discounts.
Why We Don’t Issue Coupons Very Often
There are different schools of thought when it comes to coupons. Some companies always have coupon codes outstanding as a way to entice customers to shop sooner rather than later.
The problem is that if there are always coupons available, then customers generally won’t buy unless they have an active coupon code. The same theory holds true if your store runs regular sales promotions.
The other reason that we only issue coupons to our best customers is because we believe that issuing mass coupons kind of cheapens the feel of the store.
Since we are in the wedding industry, we definitely don’t want people clipping coupons as a reason to come to our website. We want people to shop because we carry quality products and not because we offer the best bargains.
In addition, our cheapest customers have also traditionally been the hardest to please.
How Do You React To A Coupon Code Field?
I don’t know about you, but whenever I see an empty coupon field while shopping online, I almost always take some time to do a quick coupon search.
And unfortunately, it almost always results in me leaving the ecommerce site for a short period of time.
While searching for coupons, sometimes I find a better deal and never return. Sometimes, I find a coupon code only to discover that it doesn’t work. Sometimes, I waste so much time searching for the coupon that I get fed up and put off the purchase altogether.
The big kicker here is that the coupon code field actually entices a customer to leave your store during a crucial period in which you are trying to close a sale. Whenever a customer leaves your site for any reason, it’s very bad for business.
Looking at our statistics, 7% of our customers do not successfully complete the checkout process starting from the page that contains the coupon code field.
But to be honest, I’m not 100% positive how many customers actually leave our site to search for coupons during checkout. The only thing I really know is that there are people out there actively searching for coupons for our online wedding linens store and not finding them.
The other thing that is really annoying is that there are a whole bunch of coupon aggregator websites that pop up during a web search that carry bogus coupons.
If you run an online store, try typing in
For us, having the coupon field is useful in order to reward loyal customers but at the same time we don’t want customers leaving our site for any reason and certainly not during checkout.
This presents us an interesting dilemma. How can we give out coupons and discounts without given out coupons?
One of the solutions that my wife and I came up with was to give out a special ‘verbal’ code and have the customer call in to place their order.
Of course, the downside to this solution is that we would have to take these orders over the phone. This is all fine and good but in general our desire is to reduce the overall number of customer calls.
While this solution would be manageable in the near term, it’s definitely not a scalable solution.
A better solution would be to give out special URLs for the customer to click on to arrive at our site. Then based on a special tracking code, we would automatically issue the discount during checkout.
While this solution is the best one we could come up with, it unfortunately requires me (or a real programmer) to do a bit of web coding to implement it.
Testing, Testing, Testing
In the near term, we are going to do some A/B testing with and without the coupon code field to see if it has any effect. Every store is different and if it turns out that having the coupon code capability doesn’t affect shopping cart abandonment, we may as well just keep it.
The key takeaway here is that the only real way to determine the right thing to do is to perform detailed tests. This particular issue can easily be determined with a few months of simple testing with two near identical web pages.
How Do You React To Coupon Codes?
When you see a place to enter coupons, do you immediately go off and do a coupon search? What is your opinion on what to do with the coupon code box for our online store?
Update: I’ve posted a short follow up to this article. Click on this link to read about my experiment
- Follow Up: When Coupon Codes Are Bad For Business
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