A flash sale can be an effective eCommerce marketing tactic that brings in new customers, retains current ones, and increases revenue. On the other hand, a poorly planned flash sale can be detrimental to your brand image by negatively impacting customer loyalty and devaluing it.
To ensure success, it is essential to put together a thorough strategy. This guide will provide you with advice on creating a successful flash sale and even give an example of a successful one. Follow these steps to run a winning flash sale and avoid common mistakes.
What is a flash sale in eCommerce?
By definition, a flash sale is a limited-time event that typically runs from two to three hours up to 72 hours. These sales offer unique products at unbeatable prices, tapping into customers’ fear of missing out (FOMO) and encouraging them to make impulse purchases.
Examples of renowned flash sale events include Amazon Prime Day(s) and Cyber Monday, which have seen billions in sales each year. In 2022, Prime Day saw an estimated $12 billion in revenue, while Cyber Monday is expected to reach a record-breaking $11.2 billion. Many buyers anticipate these events with anticipation, eager to buy items they’ve had their eye on for a while.
Pros and cons of running a flash sale
Before launching your first flash sale, it is essential to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of this business strategy:
Increase sales rapidly – Flash sales can bring a considerable number of purchases. On average, online stores experience an increase in monthly gross merchandise value of 64,000% when they run a flash sale.
Attract new customers – This is an effective way to draw visitors to your shop and introduce potential customers to your products for the first time. If they enjoy the experience, they might become a regular customer.
Reward loyal customers – With a good discount, you can show appreciation to your most valued customers and encourage them to keep buying from you in the future.
Motivate buyers who are hesitating – According to Baymard Institute, eCommerce’s average abandoned cart rate is around 70%. A flash sale could bring them back and retain these shoppers.
Unload excess stock – By running a flash sale, you can reduce costs associated with storing and managing overstocked items and make space for the latest in-demand products.
Erode your profits – Miscalculating flash sales can drastically reduce your profit margin or even incur a loss. This could have devastating consequences for your business in the short and long term.
Attract the wrong customers – Overly frequent cash discounts may offer little incentive to gain customer loyalty.
Fatigue your shoppers – If you bombard your customers with too many flash sales, they may become resistant to the marketing tactics and promotions.
Damage your reputation – Poor customer service or slow delivery could lead to negative reviews about your brand. Overusing deep discounts can also give the impression that you are only a discount merchant.
Three mistakes to avoid with your flash sale strategy
The eCommerce industry is filled with flash sales that have yet to be successful, often due to various factors. Common causes of failing flash sales include:
- Website crashes
Website crashes can harm your sales, bringing operations to a screeching halt. To prevent this issue, finding an eCommerce platform with enough capacity to handle the load is essential. Wix offers an autoscale infrastructure for unlimited scalability and crash prevention when dealing with increased traffic levels.
If you use third-party apps or tools invoked through API calls, ensure their servers are equipped with enough bandwidth for traffic spikes.
If you need the necessary tools for managing your inventory, you could find yourself in a situation where you are selling more items than what is available.
This can lead to canceled orders or delays in the delivery of products to customers. To avoid such a scenario, Shopiroller provides an integrated system that keeps track of all listed quantities and updates them in real time across all your sales channels so that you can be sure of accurate inventory levels. You can trust the shopiroller that your stock control is in safe hands.
- Shipping delays
The effort you put in to attract customers may be well-spent if they are kept waiting for a long time for their purchased items to arrive. To prevent this, ensure your shipping information is clear and accurate, and work out any operational issues. Utilize an eCommerce platform that directs orders to the correct fulfillment provider and simplifies other backend processes.
Specify a reasonable delivery time frame at the checkout page and keep customers updated with timely notifications about their order status. If unforeseen delays occur, offer your customers an apology, along with a discount or complimentary item to compensate for it. Keeping your customers informed should also minimize customer service inquiries. By staying on top of delivery times and being transparent about the process, you can ensure a positive shopping experience for your customers.
How to run your flash sale: A step-by-step guide?
Following are the steps that cover how to run a flash sale…
1. Set a goal and choose the right products
The primary aim of any successful flash sale should be clear from the outset. Are you looking to acquire new customers, boost customer loyalty, or enhance customer interaction? Having established your objectives, you can create a well-structured sales policy that will help achieve these goals. Some examples of how it could work are as follows:
- Consider offering discounts on your signature items or promoting your most popular and current products to attract more customers. This will help increase your brand recognition.
- If you’re aiming to keep your current customers, your flash sale could focus on products that are viewed often but don’t typically convert. Offering a discounted price may be enough to encourage shoppers to buy and help you shape your pricing strategies moving forward. Additionally, you could use the flash sale to create excitement around newly released products and introduce them to potential customers.
Tip: Choose a specific category, product line, or theme to focus on when offering discounts. This will make it easier for customers to understand the value of your offer and why it is being made available.
2. Define your target audience
Focus your efforts on a specific target audience so that you can tailor your messages and make sure they will receive value from the sale. A wide-ranging target audience can create confusion and lead to messaging that only connects with a customer segment.
A precise target audience, however, will provide you with a direct route to success. It can help increase your conversion rate, reduce ad expenditure, and improve ROI.
3. Choose the right timing
Many sellers have discovered that conducting a flash sale before or after the holiday can be beneficial. For example, introducing a flash sale beforehand (e.g., in September) can assist with boosting your brand’s visibility in preparation for the most crucial shopping season of the year.
On the other hand, running a flash sale straight after the holidays (e.g., in January) can help compensate for any income losses resulting from post-holiday returns.
Even so, each business is different and should review its past sales information and consumer behaviors to decide what works best.
It helps to compare when email open rates are highest as a way to guide your marketing tactics. Take advantage of this data and observe your flash sale’s impact on regular performance.
4. Set the right price
Deciding on the correct price is essential. Price too low and you would not be making a profit, whereas pricing too high could scare away potential shoppers. If your products are unique and sales events are rarely held, then 10% off may be an attractive offer.
However, customers may expect a more significant discount if your items are widely available and you frequently hold promotional activities. Establishing a price equal to or slightly higher than the discounts you provide on Black Friday or Cyber Monday (i.e., higher than your lowest possible price) is advisable.
5. Get your payment solutions in order
Your flash sale is only worthwhile if you accept payments online or get paid out by your payment provider. To ensure successful sales and payouts, take the following steps.
- Connect a payment provider, verify your account and make sure it’s approved before you start selling. The verification process may take some time, so set up the budget ahead of time. If you don’t do this, all payments from your site will be refunded.
- Be proactive and timely in responding to customer refund requests. Refund customers promptly to avoid them filing a chargeback, which can lead to damaging your chargeback ratio and banking history as a merchant.
- Clearly state your refund and return policy on your website. Ensure that the details of this policy are prominently displayed on each product page. Doing so will help to avoid misunderstandings or complaints due to incorrect expectations.
- Record all dissatisfied customers’ emails and calls to help manage potential disputes. These records could be a decisive factor if you need to file a chargeback later on.
6. Get your inventory in order
Poor inventory management can ruin your flash sale. It will be too overwhelming if you’re using manual processes to keep up with the high sales levels. To prevent this from happening, create efficient workflows that include automated and centralized systems for managing inventory across all selling channels. This way, you’ll be able to:
- Verify the accuracy of your website’s inventory figures and update the product pages accordingly so customers are aware of how many—or how few—items on sale are left.
- Synchronize your inventory information across all sales platforms, warehouses, physical shops, and fulfillment services.
- Maintain a sufficient inventory of supplies so you only accidentally sell what’s available, particularly when receiving orders from multiple sources.
- Maintained complete oversight of inventory movement and constantly communicated with buyers in case of any errors.
7. Optimize your shipping and fulfillment workflows
Be sure to be upfront with your customers about delivery times. Remember to promise if you’re set up for two-day shipping. It’s essential to be honest, and accurate rather than fast. To make up for slower shipping times, consider offering free or express shipping at an additional cost. Additionally, inform your third-party logistics partner (3PL) of your upcoming sale and have enough inventory to meet the demand. Make sure all packaging requirements are specified clearly. This will help ensure that your operations are prepared for timely shipping.
8. Create a strong promo plan
You can use many strategies to promote an upcoming sale, so planning is essential. Here are a few of the options available:
- Target potential customers who have had negative experiences with your competitors. Utilize social ads to reach these people and create messaging that resonates with their values and addresses their issues.
- Run short-term Google Ad campaigns using keywords related to your products for sale. Make sure to choose keywords that draw in users who are looking to make a purchase.
- Partner with micro-influencers on social media to who your target audience can relate. Request their assistance in promoting the items featured during your flash sale. However, these influencers should be already satisfied customers of your product before being asked to endorse your store.
- Offer your most loyal customers exclusive or early access to a flash sale. Send out invitations through email or SMS to make them feel appreciated for their dedication. Reward your top customers with this unique opportunity.
9. Create a sense of urgency
Remember that you only have a limited time frame to advertise your flash sale, so utilize multiple platforms to create excitement. Make sure to emphasize the urgency of the sale by:
- Creating a landing page on your store for a flash sale, listing available products, and highlighting relevant messaging.
- Sending pre-launch emails with the discount amount featured in the email subject line.
- Use a countdown timer during your sale to create a sense of urgency and remind customers that time is running out as the final hour approaches.
- Using natural language to emphasize the limited time available and reminding customers that this is their “final opportunity” or “last chance” to purchase popular items with a 40% discount.
Q: How can I ensure my inventory is sufficient for a flash sale?
A: Maintain a sufficient inventory of supplies, so you don’t accidentally sell more than what’s available, particularly when receiving orders from multiple sources. Keep complete oversight of inventory movement and constantly communicate with buyers in case of any errors.
Q: What strategies can I use to promote a flash sale?
A: There are many different strategies you can use to promote an upcoming sale, including targeting potential customers who have had negative experiences with competitors, using Google Ad campaigns, partnering with micro-influencers on social media, and offering exclusive or early access to your most loyal customers.
Q: How can I create a sense of urgency for my flash sale?
A: Utilize multiple platforms to create excitement. Make sure to emphasize the urgency of the sale by creating a landing page on your store for a flash sale, sending pre-launch emails with the discount amount featured in the subject line, using a countdown timer during your deal, and using natural language to emphasize the limited time available.
Q: What resources do I need to execute my flash sale campaign?
A: Shopiroller for eCommerce provides all the resources you need to execute your flash sale campaign. Easily control everything from page creation to sticking with one unified platform – give Shopiroller for eCommerce a try now.
Q: Are there any risks associated with running a flash sale?
A: There are potential risks associated with running a flash sale. These include running out of stock before the end of the sale and needing help to fulfill customer orders, as well as attracting too many customers at once and overloading your servers. To mitigate these risks, you should maintain a sufficient inventory of supplies, use an efficient e-commerce platform for hosting the sale, and utilize a pre-launch strategy to spread the word about your sale.
In conclusion, flash sales can be an excellent opportunity to drive more traffic to your store and generate additional revenue. However, it’s essential to stay organized and plan to maximize these sales’ potential. Make sure you have an accurate inventory system in place, create a promotional plan that targets potential customers effectively, and use language that emphasizes the urgency of the sale to maximize your success. With proper preparation and execution, you can ensure that your flash sales effectively drive more sales for your store.
Utilize Shopiroller for eCommerce for all the resources you need to execute your campaign. Easily control everything from page creation to sticking with one unified platform – give Shopiroller a try now.
In short, a flash sale is an effective way to reward current customers, draw in new prospects and gain focus on select products.