Does clearly showing a voucher/coupon/discount code field within a quote or payment process negatively impact on the customer experience for people who don't qualify (e.g. don't have a coupon)?
If I see a voucher code field and don't have a voucher code, the first thing I do is launch a new tab and search google for a code. I have on several occasions abandoned a sale because I felt a little hard done by when I didn't find a code. I think for web savvy and the more miserly users (like me!) it is a negative customer experience as we feel as though we are missing out on a benefit being provided to other users.
Should discount code fields be made more prominent or should they be reduced to say a link that shows/hides the field?
Personally I''d always do the latter and hide the field through a link, this allows users who have a code to still use it and isn't as big a distraction for users who don't.
Do you know of any research for/against this or had any experience of it through user testing etc?
Look at point 4 on the following link, it has some facts relating to drop off rates and also some suggestions on how to tackle voucher code fields.
Edit link is dead - content of point 4 was:
27% of those surveyed claimed they abandoned their cart to search for a code that would offer them a further discount on the purchases they were about to make.
To tackle this issue, there are two suggestions. Firstly, next to the discount box you could add a link that says "Don't have a discount code? Click here to search for one" and provide links to sites you know display your codes.
Whilst this may mean that you end up offering more discounts, at least the sales will be completed - and it will increase the possibility of repeat business.
The second option, either on the last page before payment is made or in the confirmation e-mail, is to display a message saying "We see you're not using a discount code for this purchase, so we'll send you one by e-mail to use next time".
This will encourage repeat purchases and prevent customers feeling that they have missed out. However, if neither of these tactics reduce abandonment, omission of the discount code box may be the best solution.