How to Run a Flash Sale to Boost Profits FastAug 8, 2017 by Kristen Pinkman, Ecwid Team
A flash sale is a way to sell out your stuff in a wink. A countdown and a deeper discount provoke the impulse buying that most of us are guilty of.
It looks like quite an effective method, and it actually is
What Is a Flash Sale? Does It Work for Me?
Performing a flash sale means offering a discount or promotion for a short period of time. This method is effective for a reason: higher discounts and limited availability inspire customers to buy on the spot.
Experian reports that
If you’re interested, but not sure if it works for you, check out the following statements. If you agree with some of them, then it is likely that a flash sale is a good tactic for you:
- You need to sell out products that have been in stock for too long. Say you want to sell last season’s swimming wear before a new summer season. Doing so, you make room for newer products that are selling quickly.
- You want to attract new customers
, re-activateexisting inactive customers, or drive traffic on typically slow times of the day.
- You want to increase customer loyalty and brand awareness. Though a flash sale is more of a
short-termimpulse, it still tells customers about your e-commercestore.
If you want to launch a flash sale for any reason, you need to prepare thoroughly — a crazy short deal will attract people, but what should impress them is a perfect shopping experience.
How to Prepare for a Flash Sale
Follow the instructions below, and you’ll be ready for whatever a flash sale may throw at you.
Determine the goal of your flash sale: clearing out excess inventory, getting new customers, targeting existing customers, or raising brand loyalty. Keep your goal in mind during the other stages of preparation.
Choose what to sell and at what price
The first thing to do after determining the goal is to research demand and find out what people want to buy now.
A Halloween flash sale won’t interest anyone in December. Or maybe you want to throw a Father’s Day flash sale, meaning there will be a discount on the For Him segment.
Here comes another decision: Do you want to put the whole store on sale or just some products? It may again depend on the season or on your stock, for example, if you have too many unsold products of one kind.
After that, think about the size of a discount. It should stand out, and the bigger it is, the more attention it gets, but keep in mind that you also want to make a profit here. According to Experian, strong offers like
Choose your target audience
Decide if you want to sell to new or existing customers, as it’ll influence the way you’re going to attract their attention.
If your goal is attracting new buyers, then you might want to pay more attention to Google AdWords than to your existing email list.
If you target existing customers, don’t rush to throw your sale at everyone who purchased from you. Create a segment for your newsletter based on the purchase history on your sales page. Consider the most and least valuable customers, or retarget those who visited a specific product page.
Say you’re putting a large discount on white sneakers. You’ll need to make sure you skip the part of your customer base that has bought those items recently. They won’t be too happy to see they could have saved money on those products.
In Ecwid, you can export your sales list with certain fields as a CSV file. Proceed to your Control Panel → My Sales → Export Orders.
Choose Order email, Item name, and Date and time, set the delimiter to Tab, and click Download CSV file.
Open the file in Google Sheets.
Select the column with product names and apply a filter in Data → Filter. Filter white sneakers. Then decide on the time range (everybody who purchased these sneakers after X day) and voila — here’s the list of email addresses that you need to exclude from your mailing list.
The same principle can be used if you want to filter customers that:
- Have already purchased discounted products from you earlier
- Have spent over X dollars in your store
- Have used a coupon code.
Simply select the Discounts, Coupons, and Order total fields before exporting your file.
Consider time zones and shipping
If you sell worldwide, don’t forget about different time zones, especially if you’re planning a
Here’s how you can promote your sale in case you restrict it to certain time zones:
- Set your email campaign by country (ex. in MailChimp).
- Publish a Facebook post with geotargeting (you can also target age, gender, and language).
- Notify customers on other social media only if you have separate accounts for different countries, so you won’t confuse the rest.
In the case of worldwide selling, be careful with free shipping — your shipping costs can exceed your profits.
It’s vital to keep in mind that from the customer’s point of view, a great shopping experience means getting the order on time. So prepare to ship orders fast and on schedule, as it will influence whether customers return to your store or not.
Check your stock
On a flash sale, items may sell out faster than merchants expect. Make sure you have enough products in stock and prepare your supply chain. You’re walking a fine line here: you don’t want to run out of items too soon, and you don’t want to prepare too many products either.
One simple Ecwid setting can help you avoid confusing and misleading your customers. It’s called Stock Control. Go to your Catalog → Products, click on the product and define the number of items left in stock.
With every purchase, the number of products will decrease. When it reaches zero, your product will get the Out of Stock status and your customers will no longer be able to buy it.
You may want to hide
If you want your customers to see how many items are still for sale, make sure you enable it on your design page in the Appearance section.
After you’ve enabled that option and saved your changes, go to your store. You’ll see this:
Not only does this setting prevent you from selling more items than you’ve got — it also creates additional Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO).
Learn more: How to Control Stock for Product Options
Choose the day and time
If you use Google Analytics, check on what days of the week and at what time of the day you have more sales. Also, see when your email open rates are the highest.
Flash sale emails sent after 3 p.m. work out better than midday or lunchtime sales. In most cases, you need just a couple of hours for a flash sale.
Call off other discounts
Beware of mixing a flash sale with other offers on products — we’re trying to earn something here, right? Shipping, again, must be carefully thought out, but if you’re not selling worldwide, it might be fine to offer a discount with free shipping.
You can manage your discounts and coupons in your Control Panel → Promotions.
Check your terms of service
Make sure your terms of service are clear to your customers: shipping costs and time limits, refunds, exchange. When you create a sense of urgency, people buy on impulse, which means they need to understand the deal at once. You don’t want to have any complaints, right?
In case you’re new to
- What Legal Pages Can I Have in my Ecwid Store?
- How to Write a Good Return Policy for
Set up your store
This section will help you to discover useful Ecwid features and get your store ready for a flash sale.
Add sale prices
One option to promote your store is to apply sale prices. Go to Control Panel → Settings → General → Cart and set up Compare to prices.
Then go to the product you want to put on sale, and set up the sale price. You’ll also be able to set up the discount terms for bulk orders.
For a bulk update of multiple products in your store, use the Bulk Product Editor app.
Highlight your sale items
It’s best if your store has a
Learn more: How to Set Default Category for Page
If you use a
It’s also possible to highlight your sale items with product labels.
Target your sale
Your sale prices can be discovered by every store/page visitor. If you want to limit discounts to certain groups only, you can set up customer groups or use discount coupons.
A customer group is a sort of label that you can assign to customers to group them under certain criteria:
- repeat customer
- friends and family, etc.
Create a group you like, associate your customers with it, and provide special discounts for them. This feature is available on Business and
Note: Your customers will need to log in to use the discount.
Learn more: Store Memberships: Customer Groups
A discount coupon code is a secret code which a customer can use to get a discount when making a purchase.
Discount coupons are very flexible in Ecwid. They can be used for free shipping offers, percent and absolute discounts. You can limit them to certain products, categories, and number of uses.
Learn more about this feature: Discount Coupons
Use Ecwid Mobile App
A flash sale requires fast and
Download the app for iOS and Android to be able to track your inventory, enable and disable promotions, and get push notifications for every order on your mobile device. The app is free and available on all paid plans.
Learn more: How to Run a Store From Your Smartphone
How to Run a Flash Sale
As soon as you have prepared everything, it’s finally time to put your flash sale to action. Following the right steps, you’ll ensure a profitable sale both for you and your customers.
As a flash sale is limited to a short period of time, it’s vital to make sure you have notified your customers in every possible way: via email, social media, on the website.
Use exclusive invitations and coupon codes, or create a register for a sale button to spark more interest. The latter is quite helpful when you’re targeting existing customers and have a limited offer during a sale.
When customers are aware of your sale, it’s important to keep their attention. You can offer gifts or free shipping to the first 100 buyers. Try different sales models: a VIP flash, an
Create sense of urgency
Be ready to communicate with customers fast in case they have questions (and they will) on every channel possible: email, social media, live chats. When a sale is a matter of hours, people expect a quick and polite service even more than usual.
What to Do Next?
After you’re done with your first flash sale, it’s time to analyze the results: Did you set the right goal and were you able to achieve it? Where could you have paid more attention, and what were your strong points?
Flash sales perform best when customers are left with a positive shopping experience and perception of your store: that includes not only a good discount on a quality product but also customer service and timely shipping.
If everything worked out like a charm (and it probably did, if you followed our instructions), then it’s time to announce to your customers when the next flash sale is! The holiday season is coming, and you’ll turn to flash sale promotions again very soon.
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