Consumers Guide to Navigating Online Coupon Code Restrictions
Your cruising along, totally psyched about the discounted items that are in your online shopping cart, and then, BAM! You enter the online coupon code that is going to make this whole purchase a whopper of deal, and it doesn’t work. To top it all off, you don’t know WHY is isn’t valid.
The first thing to know is that merchants can (and do) expire coupons early (sometimes without warning). Next, there are quite a few online retailers that have ridiculously long online coupon code exclusion lists. What might work better for them is to list the products that DO qualify for an extra coupon discount.
Notes for Consumers Regarding Online Coupon Codes and Pricing
- Some brands have very strict guidelines regarding pricing, and they will not allow merchants to sell their products at a steep discount. This is especially true for online shoe sites, sporting goods stores and department stores.
- Most merchants display this caveat (or something similar) regarding their online coupon code policy:
- promotional offers may be modified or terminated at any time without notice.
- Some online stores do not give much guidance regarding brand restrictions. The consumer won’t find out if items in their order qualify until they actually enter the coupon. We don’t like it, but we have some suggestions for what merchants can do to improve the situation!
What Retailers Can Do Better
In order to make customers much happier (i.e., no surprises in the checkout process with that online coupon code), we recommend:
- for items that DO qualify for an extra coupon discount, make a note on the individual product page that states, “this item qualifies for coupon discounts“
- for items that DO NOT qualify for an extra coupon discount, make a note on the individual product page that states, “this item DOES NOT qualify for coupon discounts“
Kudos to Macys.com! Both in search view and on each individual product page, Macy’s shows the current online promotions and coupon codes that are available to use for an additional discount. See the full list of Macy’s promo codes (including secret sales).
Merchants that Need the Most Work Regarding Their Online Coupon Code Policy
- Dick’s Sporting Goods: long exclusion list that varies by category. They would do well to implement one (or both) of the strategies listed above. Strategy #1 would probably be the most effective improvement.
- JCPenney: the good news is that their list isn’t nearly as long as DicksSportingGoods.com. It’s still important to know that not all items on the JCP.com web site qualify for a coupon discount.
- Shoes.com: this site’s policy needs a lot of improvement! They state on their “promo rules” page that online coupon codes apply “to participating brands only.” The problem is, there is no page on their site that delineates which brands are participating (or not). In addition, their is no mention on each product page as to whether or not the item is from a “participating brand.” It isn’t until you get to the shopping cart and enter the promo code that you get a message.
- Some items not included in this promotion. The [product in cart] is excluded from all promotions. There are no qualifying items in your cart for this promotion.
- Lord & Taylor: they would do well to take a page out of Macy’s play book. Unless you want to read through the incredibly long promo code details page, you won’t know if your product qualifies until you enter the code.
- Saks Fifth Avenue: similar to Lord and Taylor, their is no mention of coupon qualification on the product page. They are leaving the legwork to the consumer. That can lead to frustration and shopping cart abandonment.
In summary, some online shopping web sites need improvement in communicating their online coupon code exclusion lists to consumers.
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