In e-commerce and online shopping a coupon code, or promo code, is a computer-generated code, consisting of letters or numbers that consumers can enter into a promotional box on a site’s shopping cart (or checkout page) to obtain a discount on the current purchase.
Types of Online Discount Codes
Most coupon codes offer discounts for online purchases such as a fixed discount, a percentage off the entire purchase, free shipping or other discount as advertised by the merchant. There are as number of phrases used to mean coupon code, including the following: promotional or promo code, discount code, offer code, gift code, digital coupon and similar variations.
Why Merchants Offer Discount Codes
Online merchants offer coupon codes as an incentive to shoppers to purchase from their website. Many online merchants do not offer the coupon code directly on the website you shop from, but instead will place the codes within affiliate programs or offer member-only promotional codes in email newsletters or retail blog posts. Some retail stores will include online order coupon codes in print advertising and other forms of business literature.
Coupon Code Sites
In addition to finding coupon codes offered directly by an online merchant, there are a number of websites that track new coupon offers from merchants worldwide, such as Coupons.com, Coupon Cabin or RetailMeNot. These sites typically aggregate thousands of current, online shopping promotion codes in one place.
Some sites provide the codes for shoppers to copy and paste into the merchant’s shopping cart, while others require you to click an affiliate link (usually a referral code link) from the coupon site to the retail site and have the discount code applied automatically.
Image: Example Coupon Discount Codes as displayed on RetailMeNot.com.