Toscana Fireplace ScreenIt’s getting cold again here in Georgia, and after the first time using our fireplace this season I remembered how much I need a screen to protect our hardwoods and rug from the hot embers that sometimes pop out onto the floor. After searching online for about an hour, I settled on a nice (but expensive) fireplace screen from Frontgate.

As I was browsing their site that was advertising a 30% off promotion in multiple places, I was served a pop-up promising free shipping on my first order if I signed up for the email list. I signed up (even though I’m already on their email list) so I could save a few extra dollars on shipping since I was sure this was a heavy item. Nowhere on the popup did it say free shipping would not work with other promotions.

When I was still being charged shipping in the shopping cart, I called Frontgate sales and explained that I was trying to check out but it wasn’t giving me the free shipping. The rep looked around for a minute before explaining to me that the free shipping promotion could not be used with the current 30% off. If I wanted to take free shipping and save $60, I would have to forego the $180 savings from the 30% off. Doesn’t sound like that great of a deal!

Here I was about to give him my credit card for a $450 order and he was trying to argue with me over the $60 shipping. A quick search through my emails showed they routinely offer 30% off and free shipping, so it’s reasonable to assume these two promotions (advertised on the same page) would work together.

Still, the polite sales representative wouldn’t budge, so I hung up the phone and Frontgate lost out on $450 in revenue. Maybe I’ll purchase the fireplace screen next time I get an email from them for 30% off plus free shipping, if I haven’t found one somewhere else by then.

The Lesson for Online Retailers

Most online retailers, even small niche retailers, run multiple promotions simultaneously. You might be running an exit popup to generate email signups, an abandoned cart campaign, and a site-wide promotion all at the same time, in addition to several email drip campaigns advertising specific products.

But it’s critically important that you organize these promotions to be complimentary, or at the very least allow them to be stacked when a customer complains. Or you need to turn off or tweak some site-wide promotions like exit popups so they don’t conflict with your main promotions.

I have to imagine I’m not the only person who was put off by the free shipping promotion during the site-wide campaign. How much lost revenue are online retailers like Frontgate (and you!) leaving on the table by not planning your online marketing campaigns better?