Wednesday, June 12, 2024

How I Limit Coupon Abuse

Utilizing coupons and reductions to entice purchases is a cornerstone of retail and ecommerce.

At the moment’s e-mail automation platforms — Klaviyo, Listrak, many extra — make it simpler than ever to ship coupons to shoppers at totally different factors of their journey. A easy instance is the basic “10% off your first order” when a customer subscribes to an e-mail checklist.

Different examples goal lapsed prospects, customers who abandon carts, and upsells based mostly on earlier purchases.

Screenshot from a Chirp email with a coupon code for first time buyers.

Buying prospects is one among many makes use of of coupon codes. This instance from Chirp, a vendor of low cost audio books, is for first-time consumers.

Cut price Hunters

Shoppers’ love of deal can sadly lead to illicit makes an attempt to stack as many reductions and coupons as potential.

Furthermore, browser extensions — Honey, Fetch, Capital One Purchasing, many others — robotically apply coupons to an order, reducing the worth. A service provider may need created a coupon for first-time purchases, however the extensions can enable repeat consumers to make use of it.

Generally customers collaborate to find and share coupons. It’s a tiny fraction of shoppers, however the repercussions have an effect on everybody.

My very own ecommerce enterprise has encountered coupon abuse for years. We develop and promote music software program on to shoppers. Although our margins are excessive, the conduct requires us to take in depth precautions when rolling out coupon-driven promos.


Retailers usually create a single code for a whole phase of shoppers. “WELCOME10” could be a coupon for first-time consumers. However such generic codes nearly assure widespread discovery and use, seemingly together with browser extensions addressed above.

Some retailers create codes with random characters that look like customer-specific, equivalent to “WELCOME10GH76BND.” The hope is a consumer receiving the code believes it’s for him alone and won’t share it. My expertise is shoppers are far too savvy and can rapidly be taught and share.

Therefore our solely cheap possibility is to create one-time coupons distributed individually and by no means on a public web page. Many instruments and platforms may help. Omnisend, for instance, gives one-time coupons for WooCommerce and Shopify. Klaviyo provides it natively with Shopify and prolonged with WooCommerce.


But person-specific, single-use coupons is not going to forestall abuse. Skilled customers might uncover the strategy of producing the coupons — e.g., including an merchandise to the cart and ready two days — and exploit it.

We due to this fact add “guardrails” for coupon use and technology. A baseline precaution is stopping the identical kind of coupons from being stacked. For instance, a number of cart abandonment coupons can’t be utilized in a single checkout. Or, restrict coupon use globally to at least one per order.

At all times add parameters to a coupon, equivalent to an expiration date and time, and inside notes on how and why it was created. These notes will assist determine the origin if the coupon reveals up in an sudden place.

Restrict coupon technology by including filters to automated e-mail flows. All fashionable e-mail service suppliers enable restrictions on how usually a customer can enter a circulation, equivalent to as soon as each day, weekly, month-to-month, or ever.


Extremely, even with all of the techniques above, we’ve skilled malicious conduct, equivalent to the identical person creating a number of accounts beneath totally different e-mail addresses to acquire the identical coupons. At that time, we shift to common safety measures that forestall misleading or criminal activity.

Cloudflare, the content material supply community, provides a free “Net Utility Firewall” with “Guidelines” that detect and limit suspicious exercise. The overall concept is to restrict how usually customers from the identical IP can entry the identical web page.

For instance, a person accessing an account creation web page a number of occasions per hour could possibly be blocked for twenty-four hours. Ditto for reset password pages.

The draw back of those measures is sometimes snaring harmless prospects. Thus tuning the variety of makes an attempt and length is important.

Past Coupons

Moreover the abuse points, coupons can degrade the buying expertise. Some customers will go away a checkout containing a coupon discipline to seek for a code. Others change into pissed off that they’re lacking out on a deal. The end result both approach is an deserted cart.

The reply for my enterprise is to transition away from coupons virtually solely and as an alternative apply particular person reductions and promotions robotically when prospects log in and store as ordinary. It has the twin good thing about being probably the most safe for my enterprise and probably the most nice for our prospects.

It’s seemingly the perfect situation. though it requires improvement and testing.

Important Questions

Coupon abuse follows ecommerce success. When launching a coupon, particularly for a phase of consumers, ask your self:

  • What occurs if all prospects entry this promotion?
  • Ought to the promotion stack with different coupons? If not, have you ever taken steps to stop it?
  • Is the coupon for people solely? It can seemingly be shared in any other case.
  • Have you ever positioned coupon guardrails to stop stacking, hoarding, and overuse?

Swathes of shoppers keen to purchase your merchandise are downside. Spending money and time defending towards coupon abuse is painful however mandatory.

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