How E-commerce Offers Can Impact User Experience

Categories: UX , Web Design


Lately, I've noticed what seems to be a growing trend on several large e-commerce websites: They offer you a discount for providing them with your email or a joining their mailing list... but they don't deliver on the discount until 2-7 days after the fact. While this is annoying to the consumer, in my opinion, it's also detrimental to sales. Here's why:

In one specific instance, I was on a major retailer's website because I was looking to purchase a side table for my living room. I provided my email address so that if I decided to make a purchase, I could receive the offer. However, the promo code took 4 days to arrive in my inbox. In that time, I had enough time to visit the store and check-out the items I liked online in person. They didn't have the table I wanted in stock and said it would have to be ordered for me. Over the next couple days, I decided that I might find something I like better at second-hand or vintage shops. Had the offer been emailed to me immediately, I would have likely made the purchase online right then and there. Additionally, when the first drip marketing email (post-promo code) arrived, I immediately unsubscribed from the mailing list, because I didn't foresee myself buying from that retailer in the future.

The moral of the story.

Many users expect instant gratification. If you're proving an offer, coupon, or download, it should be immediately accessible. While the retailer made an immediate conversion by obtaining my email, they lost potential revenue - both short and long term - by not immediately providing the discount offer. The conversion was also superficial, since I unsubscribed at the first sign of drip marketing.

Perhaps they have data and A/B testing to back up their choices, but this isn't the first time I've encountered this type of scenario, and most likely won't be the last.