Coupon Codes – Who Knew?
Well, my guess is a lot of people know. But this was an education for me.
The amazing part of my job is I get to talk to senior-level customer service, sales and ecommerce professionals at the top online retailers in the world – weekly. I also get a chance to pick the brains of the true pundits in this space. Hence this blog.
I’ve learned recently that the whole topic of enabling the entry of Coupon Codes (also known as vouchers in some markets or countries) during the retail online check-out process is a fairly heavily debated and somewhat problematic endeavor. I’m the naïve online buyer who never really paid much attention to the box at check-out. “Apparently there are a privileged few that have been handed a special code or something to get a discount, that’s nice.” Dummy.
As I now know, if you just put a little effort in and let Google do the work you can find Coupon Codes for almost anything. Worth the effort? A matter of personal choice I guess. Problematic for the brand trying to snag your online order? You bet!
If you are on the vendor’s site because you have the coupon code “in hand”, or they grabbed your attention through a marketing campaign and you have the code – great. You get what you want, you get it with a discount, the company you just purchased from has another order and another data point on how well some campaigns are performing and within what demographics.
But what if you were “just shopping”, you get to the online check-out and you spot the Coupon Code field and don’t have a code? Well, apparently the savvy shopper takes the time to find a Coupon Code – which means they leave their cart and the company’s site to find a code they can use. They just abandoned – that dreaded activity that is now the metric for how poorly a company’s ecommerce platform is converting visitors to revenue. Will the savvy shopper come back? Who knows? Maybe they find a better coupon for another online retailer. Maybe they change their mind, buy a different product from a different company. Maybe they do come back … but their cart is now empty and they abandon for good this time.
For this reason, some of the pundits are suggesting that Coupon Codes should not be a default field, that it should only appear if it looks like you are responding to a campaign, or coming from a site where you will likely have the code, or whatever other magic you can apply to the analytics that would help you intuit that the buyer has a code available. Kind of tricky stuff.
But what if you have a code, or worse yet abandoned to go find a code and return to your cart, and the code does not work, you get an error message. Now you are not just a flight risk with one finger over the get-me-the-heck-out-of-here button, but you are a frustrated shopper who is more than happy to take your business elsewhere. Apathy, lack of that emotional or personal connection to the buyer is the thing online retailers fear the most. It is just way too easy to buy whatever you need from wherever it is easiest. There is no loyalty in digital commerce, only varying degrees of friction and the spoils go to the easiest to do business with. We all know the Amazon story…
Which brings me to this week’s use case for Jacada SalesEngage. What if, as the online retailer, you knew a valued customer with a shopping cart full of goodies, especially high-valued goodies, just got an error on their Coupon Code. And they tried again and it failed again. Wouldn’t it make a lot of sense to quickly offer them some pro-active assistance? Tell them that you care? Give them a TSA-like pass around your 800 number IVR tree and immediately connect them by phone to one of your best sales agents. Then, what if that sales agent had complete context of that customer’s journey, the fact that they had a bad code, the contents of their cart, how long they have been trying to complete the order, other products they looked at? And what if the agent could now digitally collaborate with the buyer, sharing with them other offers, trying to upsell or cross-sell them other products, help them navigate your site or find products they were looking for?
Would that not be a completely different online experience? Wouldn’t that drive more business, reduce abandonment, increase loyalty, reduce friction?
I would be thrilled to hear your thoughts, or learn how you have addressed the Coupon Code conundrum.
Thank you for your time!
About David Holmes: I started my career as a sales guy, then became a developer for Deloitte after getting my MS in Decision Sciences. While at Deloitte I moved into IT consulting. I bagged my first marketing gig with KnowledgeWare in the early 90’s. Then this start-up called CST came along and asked me to be their first marketing guy. I had an awesome ride – rebranding the company to Jacada and taking it public in 1999. After 14 years I decided to try something a little different, but always had Jacada in my rearview mirror. After two more CMO gigs I am “back home”. I now have this amazing opportunity to help this 25 year old company launch more new offerings and create more new markets.
I’m married to an awesome woman from Uruguay (yes, I totally out-kicked my coverage!) and I’m becoming a rock star late in life with my new band!