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I was recently asked twice in the same month by two clients: “How do we go about adding discounts to our onine shop?”

It’s one of those interesting question that seems simple on the surface but once you think about you realise there is more than meets the eye. I believe it can be summarised thus:

Type of discount

As I see it, there are two types of discount: automatic and code-based discount.

1. Automatic means the discount kicks in automatically (i.e. no code is entered)
2. Code-based discount would be where you have to enter a code and, if valid, applies a discount at the checkout

Discount criteria

The discount would only be valid if certain criteria are met:

1. £x are spent
2. n threshold is equaled or exceeded — where n can be weight of product, number of products, etc
3. A certain product, or combination of products, are purchased

The actual discount

1. % off total (e.g. 10% off)
2. Fixed price off the total (e.g. £25 off)
3. Free product(s) (e.g. free dust cloth when you buy a LCD TV)

Discount scope

1. Runs indefinitely or within a specific time frame
2. Is one-time use only or can be used by anyone

Other considerations

1. Can automatic and code-based discounts be used together? (probably not unless you’re feeling generous!)
2. Can customers enter more than one code (I advise against this as it can get complicated — and see previous point)
3. Does the discount apply to delivery (you only need to consider this if you discount a percentage or a fixed price, not if you give a free product away)?

You should find that if you can’t set a discount up by running through the above options, it’s probably too complicated to implement.

If you want a quality online shop my bespoke software library Texelib™ contains eCommerce capability including a fully customisable shopping basket, delivery engine and discount engine. Call me on 07843 483 078 now.

Tim Bennett is a web designer and developer. He has a First Class Honours degree in Computing from Leeds Metropolitan University and currently runs his own one-man web design company, Texelate.