eBay Spring 2021 Seller Update - Coded Coupons

Liz Morton
Liz Morton


One feature of the eBay Spring 2021 Seller Update that many sellers are excited about is the new Coded Coupon promotion option that will be replacing the Codeless Coupon option.

The codeless coupon was link based - each coupon campaign would generate a link that you could share on social media or send directly to a customer, but there was no option to make the coupon publicly viewable across eBay.

Targeted offers or digital coupons allow you to provide an order discount to select buyers only. Your offer will not be visible to any general buyers on the site. Only buyers who click through a special link for this offer or enter this special URL in their browser will see or receive this targeted offer. This URL will be generated when you save this offer and can be shared with third party shopping sites, included in marketing emails, or included as a part of your onsite marketing placements to drive traffic to this targeted offer. The offer will automatically be applied for these select buyers that clicked through. No special codes are needed

The new coded coupon provides for both a “private” and “public” option, giving sellers the flexibility to market the offer to a more narrow audience by sharing the code privately or a wider audience across eBay as well.

With coded coupons, you can create a custom discount code and can share it publicly in a number of locations on eBay.com, or privately through your own marketing channels.

For example, you could show the code “SAVETODAY2021” on your listings, cart, and checkout pages, and offer $5 off to potential buyers.

The codeless coupon has minimal controls the seller can use to dial in their exact offer. You can set minimum purchase or quantity amounts, but not maximums. Start and end times are controlled by choosing dates, with no option to set a budget for the campaign that would automatically turn it off after a certain amount is reached.

You can choose to limit the use to once per transaction, but it’s a simple “yes” or “no” function without the ability to control the upper limit of your exposure per transaction if you select “no”.

In contrast, the coded coupon option seems to give sellers much more control and flexibility in creating the offer.

You can still set start and end times, but also set a maximum budget which when reached will cause the promotion to end. This mirrors similar settings for coupons available through Amazon - so it seems eBay is simply playing catch up here, but it’s nice to see this option included.

From eBay’s screenshot of what the coded coupon will look like in Promotion Manager, it also looks like there may be an option to place upper limits on the savings per coupon, giving sellers the ability to fine tune the offer for maximum savings while also limiting their total exposure per transaction.

eBay is also encouraging “offline” sharing with this new option - a smart move to make it easy for sellers to encourage repeat business to their eBay store.

The codeless option being link based was not very friendly for any application where you can’t just simply copy and paste or click on the link.

Since coded coupons do not rely on a link, you can provide the code to a customer over the phone or on printed marketing material. It sounds like eBay is even going to integrate this into the order process in Seller Hub.

You could also send a physical coupon to your customers, such as “REPEAT5” for “$5 off your next purchase” by using the “Print a coded coupon note” option on the Seller Hub Orders tab.

Final Thoughts

I’m cautiously optimistic about this one. If it works as described in the seller update announcement, it looks to me like mostly an improvement.

There’s not a lot of detail yet about how to select qualifying items for the offer for coded coupons, but I’m assuming it will be similar to the current set up with options for inclusion or exclusion rules as well as lists of specific skus or item numbers.

There’s also a question for me as to whether or not this new method will introduce more friction into the process for buyers. One benefit to the link based codeless coupon is that the discount is applied automatically.

If buyers have to take the extra step to enter a code at checkout, will that cause confusion and/or possible problems post sale if the discount is not applied correctly?

Sellers have also been asking for years for the option to do a “one time use” coupon to address customer service issues (for example, offer a one time 15% off discount on any one item in the store in response to a damaged item complaint).

It doesn’t seem to me like this new coded coupon option will address that request.

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Liz Morton is a seasoned ecommerce pro with 17 years of online marketplace sales experience, providing commentary, analysis & news about eBay, Etsy, Amazon, Shopify & more at Value Added Resource!

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