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The most expensive box on your checkout

16 Nov 2015

According to a study by PayPal and Comscore the third biggest reason why potential shoppers abandon their carts is because they went looking for a discount code.

27% of online shoppers went to an e-commerce store, added items to their cart and then subsequently abandoned that purchase because they couldn't save money. If your e-commerce store has any kind of 'discount' or 'promotional' code box shown during the checkout, then keep reading because this tiny little box could be costing you sales.

What goes wrong with discount boxes?

Most of the time people purchase items because they have a want or a need for them - they aren't necessarily being driven by a particular desire to save money on that item and are generally happy to part with their money if they feel the price for the item (and shipping) is reasonable.

So the customer comes to your e-commerce store, finds the product they were after and adds it to their cart. Upon entering the checkout process they soon spot a field asking them to enter a discount code and immediately little signals in their brain start firing. These signals are telling your potential customer that somewhere out there exists a code which will allow them to save money. And so instead of carrying on with the purchase, at least 27% of the time a customer will open a new tab and start Googling for a discount code for your store. This can lead to distraction and before you know if they've abandoned their purchase on your site.

The reality is that most customers hate paying full price for what they pay for - this is why people get so annoyed if they spot something they've just purchased is suddenly on special. At the same time however saving money isn't always something that they are thinking about as they're purchasing the item, until your checkout process suddenly went and reminded them that it should be.

How can you avoid discount box frustration?

One option is to simply not offer discounts at all. But if it is something that you are keen to provide, then here are some tips that will help to lessen any abandonments:

1. Hide it away

Having a little link that is tucked away from the main checkout process will mean that hopefully most of your potential customers won't notice it and will continue with their order uninterrupted. Anyone that has a discount code (for instance from an email send-out) will specifically be looking for it so are likely to find it. Just don't make it too well hidden otherwise you are likely to get complaints!

For the record, we like this method the least out of the four options so if you can, try and use one of the others.


2. Selectively show it

If you are running a discount for customers who have accounts and are signed in, then only show the discount box when they have met these conditions. That way it isn't prompting people who don't know what the discount code is (or even that there is one) to go off looking for one.


3. Announce it to the world

If you're running a promotion, then one of the best ways to increase conversions is to share it with everyone who is eligible. This can be achieved by showing the discount code next to the discount box on the checkout, having a button which customers can press to apply the discount, having a promotion section which informs customers what the current codes are, or even a little 'find a code' link next to the discount box which brings up a pop-up listing currently available codes.

You can opt to show any of the above to every potential customer, or just those met certain conditions like they are signed in account holders, or they have come from a certain link.


4. Automatically apply it

The final option is to automatically apply any discounts to each customer who meets the conditions and show them a note on the checkout informing them of what they just qualified for. While this approach is the easiest in terms of your customers (because they don't physically have to do anything to get the discount added), keep in mind that when it comes to promotions which for instance offer a free product when $x is spent, that not all customers will want that product - even if it is free.