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On an ecommerce website, in order to checkout/pay, the user will need an account, so he will have to register.

After registering and being logged in, the user will be able to enter a voucher code, on the summary payment page (last step)

Should the voucher code field be implemented before the log in/create an account step? If yes, why would this be better?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The answer depends on what you mean by "voucher code".

Is this a one-time-use code like a gift certificate, or a code that can be used by many different people?

If you're talking about a one-time-use code (Gift Certificate)

If you're designing codes to be used only once, it may be likely that people are very often using a code in conjunction with the process of creating a new account. A good example of this is Lynda.com or Netflix, both of whom aggressively market giving subscriptions to friends as gifts. In this case I would definitely start with the entry of the code for the following reasons

  • There is a positive emotional response associated with redeeming the code (Yay! I typed in a number and got something of value!). It's generally a good idea, given the choice, to lead with whatever is the most rewarding (to the customer) part of the process
  • Once someone types in a code and gets something, they're invested in the process and your conversion rate from Code Entry -> User account creation will be extremely high.

If you're talking about a multi-use code (Discount Code)

If you're designing codes to be used by multiple people, they're likely very easy to remember, and very likely to be shared and/or posted online. In this case you may want to require a login, if for no other reason to prevent discount code sites from finding valid codes via brute force.

An additional thought regarding user account creation

A growing trend is to create user accounts after an order has been placed. Capturing any kind of personal data is well-understood to decrease conversion rates in a checkout process, but once your user has made a purchase

  • You have some of their information already because they've likely entered at least their name and address (billing address)
  • They've already completed the purchase, so conversion rates are less of a concern
  • You can create a user account for them "under the hood" as soon as they make a purchase, and just offer users a chance to set a password upon completing an order.
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Three ?! headers in barely over half a page? Wow. Hurts my eyes a bit... :-) –  Marjan Venema Mar 20 '13 at 18:47

I would suggest having the voucher code before the log in/create account step. This gives the users the opportunity to confirm the voucher code is valid before the process of creating an account. Users may be dissatisfied if they complete the process of registration only to discover their voucher code is invalid. For example, many pizza delivery sites allow a user to enter a coupon code before signing on and ordering the pizza.

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Agree. For the sake of transparency, you might want to show the final amount with the voucher upfront. Like even though the voucher says 10% off, is it 10% off the final bill or before taxes? –  rk. Mar 20 '13 at 13:46

Is the e-commerce site a subscription site ? Meaning, will people need to pay to register ? If not, then it is best to have the voucher code field in the last step. There are a lot of technical reasons but since this is a user experience site, let me suffice by saying all the major sellers like amazon have such fields in the final step. If it is indeed a site which charges for subscription, then you could have a voucher field in the registration page in case you want to send out free subscription voucher codes.

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Would you like to clarify what "a lot of technical reasons" are? –  3nafish Mar 20 '13 at 13:35
    
Nope, it is not a subscription website. –  C D Mar 20 '13 at 14:25
    
@Chris so it depends on a lot of use cases and the way your site is designed/laid out. It also depends if your site allows checkouts as a guest. Also, if your site allows users to shop and add to cart before they can login and you want to allow them to apply a coupon and see the new price/offer. In most e-commerce websites I have built it just seemed right to display it at the last checkout step where registration was required. –  happybuddha Mar 20 '13 at 15:07
    
@3nafish Sure. Given that the OP has not listed out what his infrastructure for the ecommerce site is and depending on how expansive the ecommerce site is (and its user base etc), it can vary. Does the OP wish to maintain a place where the site knows which user got what kinda coupon ? Are the coupons just for public use or for subscribers only. Anyway, technically these things come to my mind off hand : a)Useless session management b)Additional db over heads c)Untrackable XSS attacks and so on and so forth –  happybuddha Mar 20 '13 at 15:11

Before creating an account on an ecommerce website, I would like to know the final price of my order. It really gripes me when that's not possible, the perfect example would be Amazon. You can't see Amazon's delivery price until you've signed into your account and entered your delivery information. Whilst I understand the reasons behind it, an option for even an estimate would be useful.

The same applies for any other website, though. In my opinion, the ideal checkout process consists of an almost-invoice, before registering and thus committing to purchase. This means, that entering a voucher code would be best placed before registration so that you could show an actual total.

This is how I'd envisage it looking before registration, with an almost identical section above on the payment page as a final confirmation:

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

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A related question about where/when to show if free shipping is available might be instructive in this case.

As with my answer to that question, it comes down to giving the user as many compelling incentives that will bring them to a "buy" decision.

For this reason, allowing a user to see how much benefit their voucher code would give them BEFORE they make their "buy" decision would maximize the benefits of having the voucher in the first place.

If a user is on the fence, and they are not sure if they want to go through the hassle of creating an account, knowing that they get a reward (savings) if they do might be the motivation they need to take action.

If you do not allow them to enter the voucher, or at least see what the voucher gets them, until they are at the last step of the workflow, they have already made their decision so the potential of the voucher is not maximized because you are incentivizing users to do something they have already decided to do.

While one could argue that if you have the voucher at the end, it will incentivize repeat sales, I would counter that having the voucher earlier in the workflow will still achieve that effect while also incentivizing first time customers.

TLDR; A voucher is a compelling motivator to help a customer reach a "buy" decision, so show it to them early without making them "commit" to your site by creating an account or "checking out".

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