We run a ton of sales. Just check the Detailed Image home page at any given time you’ll always find a daily special, weekly free item if you spend $x, and products on sale for monthly special. There’s also a good chance we’re running a big site-wide promo, such as free or flat-rate shipping, a brand or category of products on sale, a percentage off of everything on the site, buy product x get product y for free, or some combination of those things. At any given time we’re also running countless promos behind the scenes for various segments of our users/visitors (say, if you purchased a product in the last six months we might send you a special offer on a related product).
All of this works without us losing money because we really have only two ways that you can get a discount:
- You buy a product is on sale for everyone. These can be seen on our sale page at any time, and include our daily and monthly specials. These products are discounted using formulas that take into account our COGS so that we never lose money on a sale product.
- You use a coupon code, which involves infinite possible combinations of product discounts, free products, and shipping discounts.
There are a few other factors like gift certificates and account credit, but for the most part that’s it.
Given that we don’t ever lose money on a sale product, the key to our entire sales philosophy lies within our coupon code system. We’re able to run an unlimited number of sales concurrently without fear of losing money because we only allow one coupon code per order.
Each code is designed to give one advantage without another. For instance, a free shipping code with a min spend of $50 might not give any other discount so we make full profit on every product in the order. Or if we give a free $20 product away when you spend $70, we realize that you’ll be paying full price for shipping, full price for your other products, and that our cost on that $20 product is far less than $20. For the weekly special. the formula is completely automated to do exactly what I just described.
With all of that said, no matter how often we mention “one coupon code per order”, we get countless comments/questions from people who are “unable to use a coupon code” and it turns out they are just trying to use two codes.
We originally did a poor job communicating this. Our initial plan was to just try stating it more clearly with our promotions. We also added some text saying “Limit one per order” to the confirmation message that you see when you enter a code:
Unfortunately, neither of those really did anything. It’s not that we necessarily blame people for trying – some places do allow multiple coupon codes – but we want to be as clear as possible up front, plus there’s also no point in us fielding questions about it. We had to come up with a better way without over-complicating the checkout process or turning people off.
Last night we unveiled a new checkout system. Most of the improvements were behind the scenes, but one thing that is new on the checkout page itself is what you see when you enter a coupon code:
You now have to click to change your coupon code. We hope that the simple act of having to read and click that link will reduce the questions.
Will that help? We think so, but only time will tell. What I love about it is that it’s subtle and definitely doesn’t deter you from using a coupon code. I often see articles about “the promo code problem“. It’s not a problem for us. We want our customers using coupons and getting good deals, and maybe more importantly feeling like they got good deals. It’s part of our business model. Go ahead and Google “Detailed Image Coupon Code”. You’ll see our coupon code page where we tell you how to get coupons, our Twitter and Facebook accounts where we give away exclusive coupons, forums where we post coupons, and a few coupon code sites where we’ve made sure we signed up and added coupon codes.
While no promotional strategy is without it’s faults, the way we’ve combined sale products with coupon codes gives our customers the option to pick and chose the types of deals that they like best, be it free product or free shipping or just a flat discount on anything we sell. We’ve come to learn that different consumers like different types of discounts, and that for the most part the different camps are pretty equally divided. I think a lot of companies spend an awful lot of time and money quantifying whether free shipping is more popular than 15% off or a free gift. From our data and our experience, you’re better off finding a way to offer all of the above and letting the consumer decide which they value more.