How I Restrict Coupon Abuse

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

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

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

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

Discount Hunters

Shoppers’ love of deal can sadly end in illicit makes an attempt to stack as many reductions and coupons as doable.

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

Typically consumers collaborate to find and share coupons. It’s a tiny fraction of consumers, 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 customers. 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 complete section of consumers. “WELCOME10” may be a coupon for first-time patrons. 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, corresponding to “WELCOME10GH76BND.” The hope is a client receiving the code believes it’s for him alone and won’t share it. My expertise is customers are far too savvy and can shortly be taught and share.

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


But person-specific, single-use coupons is not going to forestall abuse. Skilled consumers could 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 era. 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 1 per order.

All the time add parameters to a coupon, corresponding to an expiration date and time, and inside notes on how and why it was created. These notes will assist establish the origin if the coupon exhibits up in an sudden place.

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


Extremely, even with all of the ways above, we’ve skilled malicious conduct, corresponding to the identical consumer creating a number of accounts beneath completely different e-mail addresses to acquire the identical coupons. At that time, we shift to common safety measures that forestall misleading or criminality.

Cloudflare, the content material supply community, affords a free “Net Software Firewall” with “Guidelines” that detect and prohibit suspicious exercise. The final thought is to restrict how usually customers from the identical IP can entry the identical web page.

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

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

Past Coupons

In addition to the abuse points, coupons can degrade the purchasing expertise. Some consumers will go away a checkout containing a coupon discipline to seek for a code. Others turn out to be pissed off that they’re lacking out on a deal. The outcome both means is an deserted cart.

The reply for my enterprise is to transition away from coupons nearly totally and as an alternative apply particular person reductions and promotions mechanically when prospects log in and store as traditional. 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 best situation. though it requires growth and testing.

Important Questions

Coupon abuse follows ecommerce success. When launching a coupon, particularly for a section of patrons, 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 should seemingly be shared in any other case.
  • Have you ever positioned coupon guardrails to stop stacking, hoarding, and overuse?

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

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