ECommerce Discounting Strategies

Used wisely, discounts can be an effective method of expanding your business. However, you must be careful to avoid its pitfalls. The first, most important consideration is deciding which of the ecommerce discounting strategies best applies to your situation. In most cases, this will be determined based upon whether you compete on quality or price—bearing in mind your aim should always be to build value for your customers.

Discount Types

When you strip away the fluff, you’ll find there are three basic types of discounts:

  1. A percentage off the price
  2. An amount off the price
  3. A fixed reduced price


A condition is usually applied, such as:

  1. Buy so many and get a percentage off
  2. Buy one at full price and take $10 of the next one
  3. The regular price is $50, buy it now for $30


Discounts can also take the form of a perk:

  1. Buy $100 worth of product and get expedited shipping for free
  2. Buy two, get one free
  3. Spend $100 or more and get 15 percent off the total price of the order

Discount Codes

One of the smartest ways to track the efficacy of a discounting campaign is with discount codes. If you design your site using one of the best website builders for ecommerce, you’ll find this functionality is usually built in.

In addition to seeing how many people avail themselves of the discount, you can determine how they found it and where they used it. If you designate a different code for each of your marketing platforms, you can trace them back to their point of origin easily.

Among their other advantages, discount codes are good for building a loyal following, enticing shoppers to try a product for the first time, clearing excess inventory and bringing in new customers. However, that last one is usually only good for attracting shoppers looking for the lowest price. Don’t count on these buyers becoming repeat customers when the price goes back up. They tend to be loyal only to their pocketbooks.

Discounts as Incentives/Rewards

Smart ecommerce retailers reserve discounts for their loyal customers or use them to encourage first time buyers to return and buy again. “Thanks for your purchase, here’s a coupon for 15 percent off your next one if you use it within 15 days.”

Discounts can also be used to get customers to tell their friends about you. “Get a 10 percent discount certificate when you review your purchase on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.”

Discounts also play well for loyal customers when given as a reward for joining your mailing list, renewing their membership in your “Regular Shopper’s Club,” or referring new customers.

Each of these strategies rewards consumers for taking a specific action on your behalf. These pay for themselves by attracting repeat business and enticing new customers into your fold.

Reclaiming Abandoned Carts

Discounting strategies can also be applied toward getting a window shopper to return to an abandoned cart. Be careful with this one though; the last thing you want to do is teach your customers to abandon a cart and wait for you to come along and offer a discount.

This brings up the key pitfall of discounting. If you routinely offer lower prices or incentives at certain times of the day, week, month, or year; you’ll condition shoppers to wait for the discount before making the purchase.

Again, used wisely, these ecommerce discounting strategies can be very effective tools. However, brandished indiscriminately, you’ll find discounting will do your business more harm than good.