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"Enter Coupon" form at checkout

A turn-off to those without coupons



8:35 pm on Jan 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Many shipping carts have a text box for entering coupons. I suspect this is a default for some out-of-the-box carts.

We've had such a form on our cart the past year even tho we rarely issue coupons. However we're getting lots of questions from customers about it, such as "How do I get a coupon?" Not surprisingly, some buyers --especally large ones-- feel slighted. Perhaps we're even losing sales.

Therefore we just removed the coupon text box to see what happens. Any thoughts, experiences? As a shopper, how do you feel about coupon boxes?


8:49 pm on Jan 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

As a shopper, "Hmm, am I getting a raw deal here" is exactly I think whenever I encounter a checkout page with a coupon code box. I don't think it's ever made me not do business with that merchant; but I am absolutely convinced that some people will be put off to the point of no-sale. What percentage I don't know - probably very small, but at what cost?

If you are actively promoting coupons through various off-site sources; then the benefit would, I expect, outweigh that cost; but if like you say you rarely (if at all) issue coupons then i'd be tempted to lose it.


8:56 pm on Jan 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Personally, when faced with a coupon box (and no coupon to use) I will immediately launch a search mission to find a coupon code.

If I find a code I enter it and order.

If I find a better deal elsewhere while trying to find the coupon you just lost a sale.

If I can't find a coupon, something I need to order ASAP, and I can't find a better deal you just lucked out.

My suggestion would be to loose the coupon code box.



9:08 pm on Jan 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think a better option is to use a URL like your-store.com/coupon234

When someone goes there, tell them what the coupon does, and that it has been added to their session


9:26 pm on Jan 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

A few years ago we went to a packed restaurant. Food was good but prices were outrageous.

Never saw this before: owner regularly went around the place asking customers for their "dinner book" coupons... which almost everyone but us had! Coupons were for 50% off the second meal. I felt like the only idiot in the place.


9:52 pm on Jan 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator lifeinasia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Right next to the "enter coupon code" box, include a link to a "signup for our coupon e-newsletter" signup form. (Obviously you'll need to follow-up and actually send out e-coupons in the future.)

Chances are it may alleviate a lot of slighted feelings and promote some forehead slapping ("Dang, I wish I knew about that BEFORE now!").

Of course, a possible downside may be that people will abandon the carts while they wait for a coupon in their e-mail.


10:17 pm on Jan 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Just don't call it a coupon - call it something like referrer or "magic word"... whatever you like, just do not assosiate it with discounts. So the customers who have the "magic word" will know what you are talking about, others will probably ignore it.


10:23 pm on Jan 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Moltars suggestion is good. My suggested label would be "catalog code" since everyone is familiar with it from mail order.



6:40 am on Jan 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I believe having a textfield asking for coupon code has a slight negative effect on conversion.

I like Moltar's suggestions. You can also try to hide the textfield in a link that says "If you have a catalog code, click here", then either use javascript to slide down a textfield, or pop up a small window that prompts for the code. People that have coupon codes are less likely to mind one more click, and people that don't have couple codes are less likely to think that they are "missing" out because they didn't enter something in that field.


7:04 pm on Jan 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I did a promotion for a local company once and put couplon codes in. I then obviously had to put a coupon box in the checkout.

I got paranoid within 24 hours and ousted the coupon box out.


11:04 pm on Jan 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I too think I am not getting the best deal when I see a box for a coupon code. It doesn't make me leave, but it makes me feel sort of ripped off.

What I do when I want to give certain customers a deal is tell them to mention it in the message field.


11:19 pm on Jan 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We do not put ANYTHING in the checkout procedure that prevents or distracts them from paying us immediately!

(never interrupt a man writing you a check)my Daddy used to say.:)


1:23 am on Jan 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I give everyone who orders a coupon to promote return customers. Some people return but do not use the coupon, some do. I like the suggestion of renaming it, but some names may cause confusion. Its such a useful little marketing tool that i'd be hesitating to remove it without some customer feedback of some sort...


4:34 am on Jan 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We use a text link to click which then opens a coupon code box...subtle and not as apparent as a box on the checkout page, but fairly evident( for most) who have a coupon code..


10:50 am on Jan 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

what is the text of your link?


4:11 am on Jan 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Click here to enter coupon...

Its a relatively small font ( arial 8 or 9)


4:13 am on Jan 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Sniffer , how does the coupon distribution work for you?
I've thought of doing it for some time but never got around to it...I do however, "encourage" those who have a coupon to share it...

I think I'm gonna do an e-mail campaign with a promo code for all past purchasers..encouraging them to share with family and friends...


8:25 am on Jan 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

it works reasonably well. I think its probably about 1% of all the ones i send out are used, but I suspect some of those are additional sales. Even if the customer doesnt use the coupon i figure its a positive acknowledgement of their business so ill keep doing it.

Im starting to make coupons that are more targeted towards "similar products", but ive only done that for one type of product so far


10:50 am on Jan 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

My experience is that the conversion rates for opt-in mailing list, and also for customers who didn't complete their order is quite good. However, it is bad with just a mass mailing to past customers. Morover, they could report you to organizations such as SpamCop for Spam and this could result in more trouble than it is worth.


11:21 am on Jan 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Its not spamming i only give them one with their order - its a gift! I do not use my customers' email addresses for marketing purposes. The opt-in newsletter is not part of our cart


11:50 pm on Feb 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Just found an elaborate study on the web by a couple of Vanderbilt professors (Oliver and Shor in 2002) who concluded that coupon boxes increase cart abandonment.

Cause: Perceived inequity when shoppers don't have a coupon that is available to others.

A few weeks ago we removed our cart coupon box, which wasn't currently being used anyway. Sales which were weak before then have been better since. A few other changes were made so that we can't know for sure the reason for the improvement.

But the permanent coupon box is gone.


2:27 am on Feb 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have many coupons that I give out, but since reading this forum, I looked to see how many times our cart is the "EXIT" page on our site and it has happened 43 times in the last 30 days.

Is this evidence of the coupon code box? I don't know and probably won't be able to nail it down one way or another. I could just lose the box for a month and see what happens, but there is NO doubt at all that I get repeat sales by giving out the codes.


1:18 pm on Feb 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I seriously doubt that the number of customers that return to use their discount are outnumbered by the customers who abondon the cart because there's a coupon box in the checkout process

But i could be wrong


4:07 pm on Feb 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

But it is possible to structure the cart so shoppers with AND without a coupon are happy.

Appears that the cart box should be removed between promotions and perhaps coupon promotions should be kept to a just a few days. Moral: only show coupon box when absolutely vital.


10:37 pm on Feb 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Nay - MORE put up more coupon boxes!

The are many types of shoppers out there. Surprisingly, the best price/deal isn't the top priority for many. For other it is THE deciding factor. These people are often reffered to as 'Value Proposition' shoppers.

Always make these people feel like they are getting the BEST deal at your site - a coupon will entice these people to buy - a coupon box when they have no coupon WILL make them seek one out or at least scowl a bit.

We deal with this by making 'Coupons' a section of our site, there is a large nav tab called 'Coupons', there is a large, prominent, differently colored box on both the shopping cart AND checkout page called 'Discount Coupons', we have an email box that says 'sign up for coupons...', we use coupon codes in almost every marketing campaign, we give all of our affiliates codes to us, we put coupons in paid search ads, and we even have a coupons RSS feed! When you search an engine for OurDomain.com Coupons - we show up #1 (in paid and organic). Beside the coupons box is says "If you need a Perfume coupon, click here". This way, if someone wants a coupon, they WILL find one very very easily.

The coupons we offer are things that we usually offer anyway like free shipping over $60, $10 off any order over $100 etc etc, things that will hopefully increase average order values.

So now the question is... when you make coupons such a blatantly obvious and integral part of your site, what % of users actually USE a coupon? Naturally it will be different for everyone, but for our common consumer goods $60 average order site - it is less than 35% of checkouts.


2:49 pm on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Let me get this important point right:

You're saying that even when you publish the coupon code on your site and even when it's visible from the cart, only 1/3 of shoppers enter the code in the box?


5:47 pm on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

You got it!

We don't just publish the codes, we make them really really obvious.

Most shoppers are interested in fair prices, a secure 'feeling' site, available customer service(1-800 etc), and a user friendly shopping experience.

Our prices are great. Nowhere near the 'best' on the web, but great compared to retail prices.

There is a lot more going into online buying decisions than just price, make sure you address these propositions.

BTW - I'm not just talking out of my @$$ like many on these forums do. We did heavy testing and I am talking about a top site in our very competitive niche. We do over 10000 uniques a day and convert them at well over 6% (higher at Xmas).

Good Luck All!

[edited by: lorax at 12:51 am (utc) on Feb. 17, 2006]


10:19 pm on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I've seen your site and obviously you know what you're talking about... Attractive high traffic site with lots of neat bells and whistles (and coupons :) )

I spent some time yesterday looking at your firm's blog which is a goldmine of ecommerce nuggets. Seems that many WebmasterWorlders have migrated to the Supporters Forum lately. I even shelled out the funds. That may be diverting some traffic from the main boards

That said, I think using an OTC-BB stock symbol is close to the line, too.

But do please stick around. I enjoy reading ("studying" is the better word) your posts.


8:04 am on Mar 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

I am one of the authors of the study cited earlier in the thread (at Vanderbilt).
My coauthor and I have been eager to examine these issues at actual ecommerce sites that may be willing to undergo some experimentation, so if any of you wish to join with some academic types in designing the checkout process of your site, please email at

[edit] email addresses cannot be posted [/edit]

[edited by: minnapple at 8:22 am (utc) on Mar. 23, 2006]


4:24 am on Mar 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I've been struggling with this also and feel that people who don't have a coupon might abondon their cart. We currently suggest signing up for our newsletter if they're interested in recieving coupons and place a link next to the coupon box. I'd just as soon get rid of the box altogether. Question is, if you don't offer coupons, how do you offer incentives? Basic sales propmotions? An online coupon that anyone can use at check-out? What's the alternative?
This 31 message thread spans 2 pages: 31

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