Honey: A Browser Extension That Helps Users Automatically Apply Codes and Save Money Wherever They Shop
8.30.17 Online Savings

Honey: A Browser Extension That Helps Users Automatically Apply Codes and Save Money Wherever They Shop

By: Jon McDonald

The Crunch: Millennials have shown a preference for shopping with online retailers and brands that make convenience a priority. But for those businesses, the challenge comes at the end of the process: when the customer leaves the site in search of a coupon code — perhaps never to return. Honey is a browser extension that automates the process of locating and applying codes at checkout, without consumers needing to navigate away from a site. Its millions of users save money and earn rewards on purchases, while Honey’s 8,000 retail partners significantly improve their conversion rates at the point of purchase.

With the rise in mobile technology, millennials have tended to gravitate toward more convenient shopping experiences. That desire for a frictionless transaction also extends to finding deals online. A recognized weak spot comes when online shoppers can’t find a coupon code, often leading to frustration and cart abandonment.

Ryan Hudson and George Ruan aimed to alleviate that friction point when they launched Honey in 2012. A browser extension compatible with Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Opera, Honey helps users by automatically finding — and even applying — savings wherever they shop online.

As with most great ideas, Honey works because it turns something complicated — locating and applying coupon codes to online purchases — into something simple. Millennials gladly let Honey do the heavy lifting while they shop and save on the sites they frequent. But Honey has evolved to offer consumers many other ways to save with thousands of retail partners.

Photos of Honey Co-Founders George Ruan and Ryan Hudson

Honey Co-Founders George Ruan and Ryan Hudson developed a way to save without having to leave an online cart.

If multiple coupon codes work on a shopping site, for example, Honey finds the best available discount. Furthermore, users will receive exclusive deals and coupons from merchants who have partnered with Honey. And customers have access to reward bonuses through Honey Gold, which pays users a portion of the commission it earns from its retailer partnerships.

On Amazon, Honey goes even further, comparing prices for specific products with different sellers across the site. Shoppers no longer have to question whether the deal Amazon is featuring is actually the best available, and multiple sellers of the same product on Amazon increase their chances of competing successfully for the attention of those buyers.

The Honey team is also developing new ways including in-store shopping opportunities and a mobile app — for consumers and retailers to work together, which should attract even more millennial users. But innovation at Honey will always be about turning something complicated into something simple.

Alerting Shoppers to Savings and Special Retailer Offers

As with most seasoned online shoppers, internet entrepreneurs Ryan and George had grown accustomed to having to input coupon codes when they made purchases on their favorite sites. And, just like everybody else, they wanted to save dollars. But they found the process of leaving a site — at the moment of checkout — to locate a code that worked tedious and frustrating.

They wanted a program that would search the web and do it for them — so they built Honey. Its user base has grown organically and exponentially since 2012, and Honey now serves close to 5 million shoppers — and growing — who are forecasted to spend more than $15 billion online in 2017. Honey works with more than 8,000 retailers to put the best available discounts and promotions in front of customers at the moment of purchase.

This means Honey customers can complete their transactions without having to browse for codes elsewhere — perhaps stumbling upon a competitor’s deal in the process.

On average, Honey increases checkout page conversions by 55%, earning its partners a far greater share of shopper dollars than they would have otherwise. Users can even watch Honey do the computations necessary to locate the best discount when, for example, multiple codes are available on a site — or when a retailer offers free shipping or across-the-board savings.

The Honey website displays the top stores of the hour in real time, as well as the best live codes. Users are also invited to give back to the Honey community by contributing codes themselves.

Honey’s Mission: To Make Savings Easily Available at Checkout

The beauty of the Honey approach to savings is that, after installation, the extension simply sits in the browser, ready to spring into action at the moment someone decides to become an online shopper.

And beyond saving money at checkout through discounts, Honey also serves as a robust price comparison tool for one of the world’s largest online marketplaces — Amazon.

Automating the Search for Valid Coupon Codes

When a consumer navigates to a site Honey supports, the extension icon located in the top right-hand corner of the browser turns orange (except on Safari). That means that Honey supports the store, and the number that appears on the icon indicates the number of available coupons.

After the shopper makes a selection and is on a checkout page with a promo code field, Honey pops up and asks if the user wants to check for savings. The user clicks the “Save Money” button, and Honey automatically tries all known coupon codes for that store.

When the extension finds a code that works, it applies it and lets the user know how much money was saved. If Honey finds multiple working codes, it uses the one that saves the most money.

Comparing Offers Across Amazon to Find the Best Deal

Honey’s own data reveals that Amazon is visited in more than 50% of shopping sessions. But Amazon doesn’t have site-wide coupons. So it made sense for the Honey team to offer shoppers and retailers on Amazon other ways to benefit from its software.

For shoppers who use Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, Honey offers a best-price detection feature for Amazon, that solves a common problem. Amazon often has more than one purchasing option for items in its marketplace and retailers other than Amazon’s featured choice might sell the same item for less. With best-price detection, Honey scours Amazon to find better deals on that item.

Screenshots of Honey tools for Amazon

Honey alerts users to lower prices available from other Amazon sellers and shows a product’s price history.

Amazon price history extends best-price detection by showing users details about an item’s price changes over the past 120 days. This tool helps shoppers determine the best time to buy.

Building on the best-price idea, Honey built another new feature called Droplist. The extension allows Amazon customers to add products they want to keep an eye on to their Droplist. When the price of one of those products decreases, the customer is notified. Shoppers can add and delete as many products on their Droplist as they want.

Honey Gold Gives Users the Opportunity to Earn Rewards

The Honey Gold program offers Honey’s retail partners another chance to drive sales. When the extension refers a consumer to one of its retail partners, through a coupon code or other discount, that store pays Honey a commission.

Honey splits that commission with its users through its Honey Gold program, and when consumers earn enough rewards, they can redeem them for gift cards from Amazon and a selection of other vendors. This provides Honey’s business partners another appealing value proposition with which to attract consumers.

Screenshot of Honey Gold account balance

Users can earn Honey Gold to redeem gift cards by making purchases through the browser extension.

Users also earn a randomized bonus amount, with the percentage back varying from store to store, for different interactions they have with the site, including creating an account, completing a demo exercise on the site, or referring another user to Honey. To activate Honey Gold, users can click the “Save Money” button within the extension or click the “Activate” button on exclusive bonus promotions on Honey’s offers page.

While users can simultaneously redeem their Honey Gold and activate coupons, they can’t use multiple reward programs on purchases at the same time — only Honey.

Moving Forward, Honey Plans to Simplify Savings Even More

Honey fulfills the desire of all online shoppers — including millennials — who want online savings to be uncomplicated. And Honey continues to keep user experience top-of-mind, integrating new features that make online shopping faster and easier.

While it began as an automated coupon discovery and application tool, Honey has evolved into a one-stop shop for online savings. For example, Honey Travel provides users with exclusive access to lower hotel rates. Honey also alerts its users on Yelp to offers, including Groupon specials, from retail partners. And more innovation is on the horizon.

Today, Honey works as a browser extension for shoppers who are using laptop and desktop computers, but the Honey team has plans to introduce a mobile app to make savings available for shoppers on the go and in stores.

As Honey reaches ever further into the relationship between retailers and customers, it continues to turn something complicated into something simple.