How To Run A Successful Flash Sale For Your Online Business

How to run a successful flash sale

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It’s hard for anyone to resist a good deal, as 83% of buyers are likely to click an ad offering a discount. You can use the deal-seeking mentality to attract new customers to your site, and move excess inventory, by running a flash sale. 

We go over what you need to know before, during, and after running a flash sale in order to have a positive outcome for your ecommerce business. 

What Is A Flash Sale?

A flash sale refers to a discount or promotion that occurs for a short period of time. Besides the length of the promotion, flash sales differ from regular sales because the discount amount is usually higher and is often on specific products as opposed to the entire store.

Flash sales create a sense of urgency to entice customers to take action and make a purchase so they don’t miss out on a great deal.

Flash Sale Benefits

  • Increase sales
  • Get rid of excess inventory 
  • Drive brand awareness

Increase sales

Flash sales are a quick way for retailers to boost revenue. The limited time on the sale creates a sense of urgency for online shoppers that often results in impulse buying or fear of missing out (FOMO), leading to extra revenue you would not have gotten without a flash sale. 

Get rid of excess inventory 

Have excess inventory or out-of-season products you’re looking to clear out to make room for new arrivals? A flash sale on these specific products will move merchandise that otherwise may not have sold.

Drive brand awareness

Flash sales can do much more besides bringing in some quick revenue. Promoting your flash sale through social media ads, email and SMS will likely attract new customers to your website and broaden your audience. 

How To Run A Flash Sale

Determine your goal

With any marketing strategy, it’s important to first define the desired outcome of the flash sale. This will help you make other decisions such as choosing which products are going to be included in the sale.

Decide on a timeframe

After deciding on what you’re going to sell during a flash sale, you have to decide when you’re going to have your sale and how long it will last. Popular days to have flash sales include shopping holidays, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but you can have a flash sale any time you feel it’s appropriate. For example, if you’re looking to move out-of-season merchandise, having an end-of-summer flash sale is a good idea to make room for new products for fall.

You also have to decide how long the flash sale will last. Flash sales can last anywhere from two hours up to 72 hours. In most cases, the bigger the discount, the shorter the sale. You also want to look at your inventory and see how much you have to sell. If you have very limited inventory, a three-day flash sale is not necessary.

Have an accurate inventory count

Running out of inventory before your flash sale is over can negatively affect your brand’s reputation and upset customers. In order to avoid this, be sure to have an accurate inventory count of the items that are going to be sold. If you are ordering new inventory for the sale, research demand to ensure your supply chain can keep up with the additional orders.

You may also want to add inventory quantities, such as “only 5 left”, to create urgency and encourage customers to move forward with making a purchase.

Promote your flash sale

Put an effective marketing strategy in place to get the word out about your flash sale. This can include a flash sale email, social media ads and posts, and a pop-up on your website with a countdown timer for how long until the sale is over. Promoting your flash sale raises awareness and builds excitement.

Create a post-sale campaign to nurture new customers

Flash sales are likely to bring in a new audience that hasn’t purchased from you before. Don’t let them be one-time-only customers. Using an effective lifecycle marketing strategy, such as a post-sale campaign, helps with customer retention to start building a relationship that can lead to customer loyalty and repeat purchases.

Flash Sale Tips

Don’t run flash sales too often

Flash sales are a great way to make some quick extra revenue and move old merchandise. However, be careful not to have them as a regular part of your business model. If you run flash sales too often, customers will no longer feel the sense of urgency from them and will wait until the next sale to make a purchase.

Offer free shipping during a flash sale

Offer free shipping whenever possible to reduce cart abandonment and boost sales. 60% of online shoppers say they abandon their carts due to unexpected shipping fees, and over 90% of customers are encouraged to purchase more items when free shipping is offered. If you can’t offer free shipping, clearly state how much shipping fees are so it’s not a surprise when prospective customers go to checkout.

Make sure your business can handle the extra orders

From customer service to order fulfillment, a flash sale can bring a quick influx of new orders and possible issues to deal with. Be sure your team is prepared with processes in place to deal with the additional volume of customers.

KPIs To Look At After The Flash Sale

Once the time on your flash sale expires, how do you know if your ecommerce store had a successful flash sale?

Pay attention to the metrics below to see if the promotion made an impact on the following:

  • Number of sales
  • Email list growth
  • Cart abandonment rate
  • New vs old customers
  • Average order value 
  • Most viewed pages

Using Email and SMS Marketing To Promote Flash Sales

Reach your target audience for an online sale by using an email and SMS marketing strategy. Having a cohesive strategy before and after the sale can attract new customers and turn them into loyal customers with a proper lifecycle marketing nurturing campaign.



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