Hiding the coupon code box: why hiding the discount field may help you

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Should you hide your discount field?

Most online shopping carts, including WooCommerce, show a coupon code or discount code option in the shopping cart. It’s so common that I almost never see a WooCommerce site without it.

And yet, I wonder if the people who designed / developed the site have had extensive conversations with the site owners about the discount code field. Or was it just assumed that it would be a good idea.

After all, people like coupons, right? People like discounts and often buy more when they use them, right?

So having it appear on the cart and checkout pages seem to make sense.

It’s become a best practice. Even when it doesn’t help you.

Think about your own shopping practices

Let’s say you’re looking for some new headphones and you end up at a specialty / boutique shop. It’s not one you’ve been to before and your Google adventures introduced you to the store.

Now you see some cool new Grado headphones that you didn’t even know existed.

You put them in your cart and see that coupon code box on the cart page.

What do you do?

If you’re anything like me, you’re opening up a new tab and searching for something like, “new store name coupon,” or “store Grado headphones discount code.”

Do you see what happened there?

The discount code field caused you to go back to Google.

Three reasons why your coupon code is hurting you

Here are three reasons why it could be an issue, if you’re an online store owner.

  1. Affiliate fees. This customer came to you directly but you now may have to pay an affiliate a cut of this purchase if the prospect finds a review that has a discount code but also an affiliate link. Your cost of sale went up. For no good reason.
  2. Lost sales. If the customer spends time on Google, they may find another site that is selling the same product for a few bucks less and simply end their transaction somewhere else.
  3. Distractions. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve started a Google search for one thing and ended up looking at something else.

That last one is serious business. You start with a search for Grado discount code, but find an article that is suggesting an amplifier instead, which takes you to a different review site…never to get back to those headphones again.

But aren’t coupon codes good for business?

Please don’t take my suggestion that the coupon code field is hurting your site as a suggestion for killing coupon codes. Because I’m not.

Coupon codes are good.
Coupon code fields may be hurting you.

Those are two different and true statements.

People who receive coupon codes will likely use them to make a purchase and the code will incentivize them to close the deal.

So you want to use coupons. But you don’t want to give everyone (especially those without codes) a reason to leave your site.

So how do you get around this dynamic? Simple.

There are two strategies that use the same tactic – making this an easy fix to make.

First, create your own coupon codes and share them with your customers.

Imagine that you created two or three coupon codes that created an incentive to purchase more than most people purchase. Something like, “buy two items get the third 50% off.” Or “spend more than $99 and get product A for free.”

If you have a list of these, then on the cart page, instead of showing the coupon or discount field, write out the text that says, “Looking for a coupon code?” and make it a link to a list (on your own site) of those codes. Each code will be a link that applies to the cart automatically.

This is a perfect strategy for people who just won’t purchase unless they have a coupon or get a discount.

Second, send coupon codes via email as links.

The second approach is to leave coupons as gifts you make to people on your email list (a reason to subscribe) or past purchasers. In this case, you can still send out those coupons, but instead of it being a page, it’s a list you send in an email (maybe different ones each month).

Here’s how you do that with WooCommerce

If you’re looking to leverage either of those strategies with WooCommerce, then using a plugin will make things really easy. Thankfully there are several for you to consider:

About Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

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