This is a special guest post from Jake Olney, a front-end developer at Shopify Plus who built the Scripts you’ll see in the post below.
The checkout is the store’s most critical moment. It’s the gateway to a smooth customer experience and importantly, store conversions.
Consumers are drawn to, and will reward with their loyalty, convenience. Executing on this, in part, means optimizing the checkout. Embedding an array of easy-to-apply discounts, promotions, and fulfillment options in your checkout shows customers you care when it matters most.
One of the easiest ways to do this is with Shopify Scripts, small pieces of code that you can copy and paste to optimize and automate the cart and checkout, like:
- Automated discounts and promotions
- Precalculated shipping costs
- Free shipping thresholds
- Or simply building trust
We’re seeing top-performing brands use Shopify Scripts to optimize and automate their ecommerce checkouts in creative ways. Since social distancing rules were enacted, Plus brands have created 27,000 discount codes.
Not only can these optimizations help you deliver a generous and memorable customer experience when customers need it most, but they can also help you reduce cart abandonment and lift conversions once the pandemic subsides.
Below are 13 discount, gift, and shipping optimizations you can use year-round:
#1. Buy one, give one bundle
Allbirds, a New Zealand sustainable shoe brand, creatively adapted the popular buy one, get one promotional concept into a buy one, give one opportunity for customers to support the healthcare community. The company is allowing customers to bundle any shoe purchase with a donation to a healthcare professional.
When checking out with an eligible pair of shoes, a donated pair is automatically added to the customer’s cart. The customer sees both the pair they’re purchasing for themselves and the pair being donated to a healthcare professional:
Even if customers aren’t buying a pair for themselves, Allbirds makes it easy to make a monetary donation which results in Allbirds automatically sending a pair of shoes to a frontline healthcare professional. The company says it has donated $500,000 in footwear to the healthcare community.
You can adapt the original buy one, get one free script below:
#2. Free gift or discount with purchase
Chubbies, a lifestyle apparel brand uses a technique known as tiered pricing for bulk discounts. In addition to telling a consumer how much money they have to spend to qualify for a free gift or discount, Chubbies dangles discounts and gifts based on the number of items customers are willing to purchase.
The company combines a free gift alongside multiple discount “thresholds” including:
- Buy two swim trunks and get $10 off
- Buy two collared shirts and get $15 off
- Buy a swim trunk and casual short and get $10 off
Chubbies also offers gifts for spending a certain amount of money. It allows buyers to unlock tiered discounts at different monetary levels. This encourages customers to add a new item to their cart:
- Spend $99 and unlock a free Chubbies hat
- Spend $125 and unlock a free long-sleeve Chubbies shirt
- Spend $150 and unlock a free pair of shorts
Importantly, the gift or discount available to the customer qualifies for based on what they’ve added to their cart is automatically selected. The discount is automatically calculated as well:
#3. Choose your own discount
Vessi Footwear, which sells stylish waterproof sneakers, offered customers a “choose what you pay” promotion to simultaneously provide customers with a discount and frontline healthcare workers with much needed personal protective equipment (PPE).
Here’s how it worked: Vessi allowed customers to pay full price, take 30% off, or take 40% off their orders. Each selection corresponded to a different donation amount and thus the number of surgical masks that could be purchased for frontline workers.
In just two weeks, Vessi and more than 30,000 customers raised enough money to purchase 400,000 masks for healthcare workers in the U.S. and Canada. “We’re incredibly proud of the thriving community we’ve grown and the initiative they’ve taken to make a difference by giving back, says Vessi’s Director of Digital Marketing Gabriel Scaglia Dias. “The positive comments and stories we receive from these initiatives make it all worthwhile.”
The initiative came about after Vessi asked its community for feedback on charitable initiatives. In doing so, Vessi realized its customers knew how to help their communities better than any company might. It’s why the company launched the Vessi Community Fund, which allows customers to pay-it-forward by making donations to the Vessi Fund when they checkout.
Vessi’s goal is to dip into the fund and allocate $1,000 a day to ten heroes who are giving back to their communities. While many of the projects being considered are coronavirus-related, expect Vessi and its community to partner with those doing good anywhere.
“The Vessi Community Fund projects are extremely heartwarming to read and support,” says Scaglia Dias. “Our community is giving back in ways we could have never thought of; from painting murals, making masks, 3D printing PPE, to donating groceries. We hope that the positive effects stemming from these small initiatives, acts of kindness will extend beyond Vessi and throughout our society.”
While the two aforementioned initiatives were based on promotional codes and required no automation, Vessi relies on Shopify Scripts in many of its campaigns. For instance, Vessi has scripts running in the background to block discounts from gift cards as well as providing a BOGO discount if the customer buys a shoes-and-laces combination.
View the following to learn how to create checkout discounts:
#4. First time customer or new subscriber discount
It takes a visitor about 13 milliseconds to judge your site, so give the first-timers a chance to get a deal. A quick discount, like 20% off the least expensive item, is a great way to entice and conclude a purchase, but you’ve got to get that customer through the checkout.
Bombas, a premium sock brand, entices first-time shoppers to become customers with a pop-up that promises a special discount code. Plus, this strategy also ensures they capture a shopper’s email for future marketing.
Likewise, SkinnyMe Tea offered a 5% discount and a free eating plan to anyone who gave their email address, and their email opt-ins increased by 758%.
#5. Tiered pricing for bulk purchases
Scripts give shoppers an incentive to purchase multiples of the same product and increase average order size, creating the strange sensation of simultaneous spending and saving.
For example, depending on your margins, you might implement something like this:
- 5% off for 10-19
- 10% off for 20-29
- 20% off for 30+
Greats, a premium sneaker brand, uses a similar script to display a very visible discount as customers increase the quantities to their cart, making it clear that the larger purchase offers increased savings.
#6. Tiered discount by spending thresholds
Similar to the previous script, this script allows buyers to unlock tiered discounts at different monetary levels. This encourages customers to add a new item to their cart to close the gap. Brooklinen uses a version of this Script to combine a free gift alongside three discount “thresholds”:
- Spend $250 and get $50 off
- Spend $500 and get $100 off
- Spend $800 and get $200 off
#7. Disallow discount codes for sitewide sale
Stack discount codes can hurt profit margins. It’s crucial to protect your business amidst promotions and ensure that discount codes don’t run recklessly alongside sitewide sales. Think especially of Pura Vida Bracelets’ 50% off Black Friday, Cyber Monday extravaganza.
#8. Auto-select default payment method
Abandoned carts exist all over the internet, and are left there by people who just couldn’t pull the trigger. Not to worry—you can customize your checkout to show your customers’ most relevant payment methods:
Urban Planet’s mobile checkout begins with offering shoppers a choice between PayPal, logging into their account, or utilizing Shop Pay.
#9. Be transparent about shipping costs upfront
According to Statista, 56% of shoppers say they abandon their carts because of unexpected costs. In fact, it’s the top reason why shoppers abandon carts—when they encounter higher than expected shipping charges or unanticipated processing fees or taxes or automatic cross-sells.
Precalculate shipping costs at checkout with the Script below, or consider adding a shipping estimate or calculator on product pages with apps like Estimated Shipping Cost.
Image from Business 2 Community
Shopify Plus comes with pre-built custom calculated shipping rates for different carriers shown at the checkout. Depending on your Shopify plan, you’ll be eligible for reduced rates from USPS, UPS, DHL Express, and Canada Post.
#10. Local delivery
Tealeaves, a Canadian provider of master blended organic tea, offers its community a special local delivery option that’s only available to customers in the greater Vancouver area. If the customer’s zip or postal code doesn’t match the list of postal codes in the script, it’s hidden.
Based on this script, you could offer customers near your headquarters or warehouse delivery options like a guaranteed 1-day delivery or even a bike delivery. Neither of these selections would be visible for buyers outside the designated postal or zip code.
Feel free to use this script to create local delivery options that meet your needs:
#11. Click and collect
Since stay-at-home orders were implemented, click and collect, including curbside pickup, increased 62%. Staples, a multichannel office supplies retailer, is well-positioned to take advantage of the accelerated trend toward click and collect. While the company is urging customers to stay home and rely on free delivery, it’s also offering contactless curbside pickup for most items.
If a customer is checking out on Staples.ca and is in close proximity to a retail store, they'll see the option to have their order fulfilled at a nearby location. They’ll even see an estimate of when the order will be ready for pick up.
Setting up click and collect
#12. Free standard shipping for VIP customers
Being part of a club can have its benefits, and while your company might not be Amazon Prime yet, you can certainly take a chapter from their book. Invite shoppers to join your community, and reward them with incentives like free shipping on items. You could also do an “item of the month” subscription service.
CandyClub, a subscription box brand, offers specific subscription packages with different monthly lengths, products, and pricing.
#13. Calculate value added tax (VAT) rates in Europe
Nanoleaf’s customers were understandably upset when they were slapped with taxes after they already paid for their products.
Their Shopify Script allows the company to set up international storefronts that let customers check out in their own currencies, and offered local deliveries that were faster and cheaper than their previous international providers.
Hidden fees or taxes sour the experience. These unexpected costs ruin the buyer’s experience, making it less likely that they come back. That’s why it’s crucial to be able to show a customer exactly what they’ll be paying, in their own currency and taxes, in order to deliver some transparency and build trust.
Additional ecommerce checkout resources
For more guidance, take a look at how to:
- Write your own customized Scripts
- Customize your checkout page
- Install Shopify Scripts and Scripts Editor
- Understand Ruby methods within Scripts
- Use, create, and customize with the Scripts Editor
- Get Started with Shopify Scripts: A Practical Walkthrough
- See how Peepers increased conversions by 30% with a custom checkout
Optimizing your ecommerce checkout
It’s not clear if or how COVID-19 will permanently change consumer behavior. Offering discounts and promotions when millions are unemployed is a no brainer. However, discounting in a post-COVID-19 world requires more data and judgment.
How price-sensitive are your customers? What discount would they respond to—or do they care about saving money? If they’re loyal to your brand, do they care more about exclusive free gifts than price? If you’re not sure, that’s okay—make an educated guess, and consider this the first test as a way to validate that guess.
Also, a promotion is only as good as it is communicated clearly. Running too many promotions at once can confuse customers as they decide on the best one to choose (or try to learn about all of them!).
As a rule of thumb, especially at the beginning, I’d recommend only running a couple of different scripts at the same time. This means you can test different discounting strategies, but really focus on communicating them to your customers and seeing which work. It’s common to have one script running all the time, and then an extra promo to new customers or a sitewide discount.
I hope you use Shopify Scripts to the fullest! It’s a great tool to drive conversions, attract new customers, and retain old ones during a global pandemic and long after.