How to run successful flash sales to increase profit
Imagine there is a new MacBook you would give eye-teeth for. But the price tag is “oh my goodness”. It is like your three-month budget. Anyway, you can’t afford it now and then BOOM! Its price is halved and only for 5 hours. What’s your move? The chances are you’ll buy it. And here we go – that’s how flash sales work. Jaw-dropping prices coupled with the fear of missing out (FOMO) work wonders for retailers. Such promotions make consumers decide faster and purchase more.
But if a flash sale is handled wrong, it can backfire, hurting your brand image and attracting one-time buyers. You don’t need that, do you? This article is all you should know about flash sale campaigns and how to run them correctly. So, buckle up, and let’s get going!
What is a flash sale: Definition and characteristics
As the name implies, a flash sale is a quick promotion that lasts anything between 3-24 hours. It aims to provide loyal and potential customers with sky-high discounts or special offers. That can be percentage reduction prices, “Buy one, get one free” deals and anything that sparks the FOMO. By leveraging the power of people’s emotions, flash sales entice customers into impulse buying, which leads to peak transactions and clients.
B2C consumers are the best targets for flash sales as they usually seek instant gratification. However, B2B projects can also apply this marketing tactic to their business models. All people love discounts, so it doesn’t matter what you sell if the end customer is a person who’s hunting for good deals.
Is a flash sale right for your business
Limited time discounts will work just fine for your business if you want to increase sales, re-engage inactive customers, drive traffic to your site and create buzz around your brand. Here are a few more reasons why you should consider holding a flash sale:
Increase brand loyalty
Flash sales aren’t only a great marketing tool. They’re also meant to show your customers how much you care, and not only about profit. When shoppers feel appreciated, they’ll knock at your door again and again.
If you are preparing enticing discounts for your customers, rest assured that people will spread the word about it. Shoppers love reduced prices, and they are likely to share that news with their friends and relatives. And word-of-mouth advertising is among the best ways to attract new customers. So, run flash sales, advertise them among your existing and potential clients, and let the gossip power do everything for you.
Clean up excess inventory
If you have idle, out-of-season or simply outdated products, flash sales hit the spot. By reducing prices, you can make room for new inventory and sell old items to the right customers. But don’t think a flash sale aims to clean your warehouse only. You can’t offer expendable products and expect people to buy them all even if they go with low prices. To hold a successful sale, you should mix items that have been unsold for a long time with in-demand products. Thus, your short-term promotion will deliver value to customers, and they will buy more eagerly.
Turbocharge your revenue
As long as brand awareness and customer loyalty are amazing, revenue is what really merchants are looking forward to when running flash sales. Stats show that flash sales can actually come hand in hand with a 64,000% lift in monthly gross merchandise value (GMO). So, why not give it a try?
Short-term promotions have an accumulative effect. That means it will bring in new shoppers even after the discounts are over. All it takes is to be aware of the probable pitfalls that may arise and handle a sale right. Luckily, that is our next stop here.
What are the cons of flash sales
When planning a flash sale, preparation is the key, and If you fail to gear up, the consequences might be dreadful. Here they are:
Loss of profits
When it comes to flash sales, miscalculation can cost you a fortune. Make sure that you are ready for expenses needed to prepare a promotion, including landing, advertising, shipping, etc. Otherwise, you may end up losing your money or even reputation.
Blow to the reputation
Imagine the situation where you sold thousands of products for a few hours but failed to ship them promptly. Your customers will wait, then become angry, and after a while, start calling you demanding their orders right away. You can’t answer them all, so they start trashing you on social media. As a result, your reputation is hurt, and you can do nothing about it. When planning a flash sale, keep in mind that buyers, along with sky-high discounts and high-quality products, expect you to provide great customer services afterwards.
Flash sales fatigue
That’s another risk you’d better be aware of. When running sales too often, you can spark the opposite effect you want. People may get tired of your frequent promotions. We’ve already mentioned that flash sales play on FOMO, which is a pleasant feeling but only in small amounts. If you make your customers feel scared and nervous a lot, they’ll get fed up with you eventually.
Bargain hunters are attracted to flash sales like bees to honey. And they have no intention to become your loyal customers. All they want is discounts, and the more, the better. So, unless you want to feed good deal seekers, don’t go over the top with sales. They should be like a holiday, long-expected and so pleasant.
Those are real hazards for your bottom line and business in general, but a thought-out plan and careful preparation can easily prevent your sale from failing.
How to prepare a flash sale
If you are about to sell a large number of products in a pretty short period of time, good preparation is a must. So, here are 8 steps to get a flash sale ready.
Step 1: Decide on your goal
With a clear-cut understanding of why you really need that flash sale, you’ll give it a better chance of success. Sure thing, you’d like to increase your bottom line. But money itself can’t be your guiding light. There should something else like:
- Unload excess inventory
- Boost sales during a slow season
- Enhance your brand awareness
- Scale up customer loyalty
- Grow clients’ satisfaction
Flash deals can be used for all of the above goals. But you’d better choose one or two not to multitask.
Step 2: Plan your timing
Before offering enticing proposals and throwing a deadline, think of the best time to do that. There should be a period of time when your customers purchase the most. Perhaps, it is at the weekend or the beginning of a workweek. You can leverage the analytics to find out the purchasing patterns, if any. They’ll help you a lot to hit the right people at the right time.
Your sale schedule must depend on your business specifications and the type of product you’re selling. There isn’t the only right choice when it comes to timing. Keep your customer purchasing patterns in mind, analyse the email open rates and the social media activity. Thus, you’ll be able to come up with the right sales strategy.
Another way to go is to throw a flash sale during the holiday season peaks. That makes sense if you sell something that can be a nice present for someone. People love making gifts, and they eagerly spend money to make the dearest and nearest happy. You can cash in on this situation if you play your cards right. Be aware that the holiday season is when customers are bombarded with all sorts of ads and enticing proposals, so you should manage to stand out from the crowd. A thought-out promotion campaign will be of help to make your sale go far.
You can also hold a flash sale after the holiday season. The risk is that people have spent a lot and aren’t ready to splash out even more on your products. But on the bright side, the competition is low, so don’t miss out on a chance to build customer loyalty and make a profit after the celebration is over.
When deciding on the right timing, put a premium on the flash sale duration. Keep it something between 3 to 24 hours to intensify the FOMO. A rule of thumb is: the shorter the promotion duration, the higher transaction rates. That’s because shoppers get even more emotional, thus, ready to buy.
Step 3: Define your target market
You can have as many audiences to market your products as you want, but when it comes to a flash sale, you’d better stick to just one. If you want to acquire new customers, there is one set of rules you should follow. If you’re dead set on increasing profit from existing clients, there is another. So, set a goal for your promotion and stick to one of the following strategies.
For those who want to acquire new customers
- Target your competitors’ clients It isn’t a forbidden trick but an effective marketing tactic. You identify buyers who purchase from your competitors and target them on Instagram, Facebook and wherever they spend time. You can also showcase your ad to the consumers who were dissatisfied with your competitors’ products and left negative feedback.
- Take advantage of influence marketing Depending on the products you sell, choose a couple of bloggers who can spice up your flash sale. But first, check the influencer’s performance by using special services such as Yoloco, Livedune, Fohr and similar. We bet you don’t want to pay for mass following and fake likes. Make sure to find the bloggers who resonate with your audience. And opt for nano-influencers (anywhere from 1 000 to 10 000 followers) or micro-influencers (up to 100 000 followers). That’s where quantity isn’t so important as quality.
For those who want to drive up earnings from existing clients
- Keep it to loyal buyers Don’t shout about your jaw-dropping discounts from the rooftops. Make sure to forward flash sale emails to your subscription list or return customers. You can even email them promo codes to restrict the sale. And one more thing: segment your email list not to showcase discounted products to clients who have already bought them at full prices. They won’t be happy about it, and in the worst-case scenario, ask for a refund of the price difference.
- Re-engage inactive customers Enticing discounts are a great way to win inactive clients back. If they haven’t bought from you for a long time, flash sales can make them change their mind.
- Forward your special offers to the shoppers who abandoned carts People leave websites without finishing their purchases for different reasons. They might hate the idea of creating an account or paying for shipping more than expected. Other reasons are confusing and time-consuming checkout, payment security concerns or just no prior intention to buy. By leveraging the power of flash sales, you can convert some of those abandoners into your clients, especially if you offer discounts for products they’ve abandoned in the first place.
Step 4: Pick the right flash sale inventory
The product choice for a flash sale highly depends on the people you’re going to target. If you want to engage new customers, you’d better sell:
- Products that are popular with competitors’ customers The idea is as plain as day: you identify the products that your competitors’ clients buy a lot and sell them at much lower prices.
- Highly demanded products Simply put, you should sell popular items. We bet you know your best-sellers. But you can also check products with high search volumes. That will give you an idea of what people are seeking on the web. Use such services as Google’s Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, Serpstat, SEMrush.
- Products you are known for or want to be known for We aren’t talking about T-shirts with your shop logo. However, you may sell them if they look nice. Think of the products that have your brand’s signature, something that will boost your brand awareness.
If the goal of your flash sale is to make a profit from existing customers, consider selling the following:
- Products that your customers check a lot but don’t buy The reason for high traffic and low conversion may be a heavy price tag. So, find out the products with many page views and reduce their prices for a few hours.
- Excess stock If you have excess inventory, sell it to your loyal customers at lower prices. That’s a good way to boost their love for your brand and clean up some space.
Step 5: Set your prices right
The price must be low enough to attract customers but not too low unless you want to lose money. You aren’t Santa Claus to hand out your products for free. That’ll drive lots of attention to your site, but what about your profit? On the other hand, don’t expect much traffic and conversions if your discounts are ridiculously low.
Here is what you can do: think of the lowest possible price for your product and increase it just a little bit. That’ll be your flash sale price. Do the same with all products you’re going to sell. And you’d better reserve those prices for all holidays and big promotions. Thus, you’ll be consistent with your clients and avoid awkward situations.
Step 6: Market your flash sale
You can come up with an incredible flash sale, but what’s the point if nobody knows about it. Promote your sale wisely to make a great headway. Luckily, there are numerous communication channels to choose from:
- Social media Create eye-catching creatives and start the ball rolling on the advertising campaign on Facebook and Instagram. Target the right audience depending on your goal. Flash sale posts are unlikely to go unseen. During the sale, use social media platforms to communicate to your target audience, reminding them when the sale is over, what products are already out of stock, etc. And be available on social media before and during the sale to answer your clients' questions.
- Email Don’t underestimate the power of email marketing to make consumers flock to your website. People always seek good deals, and that’s in their best interest to open your letter. However, you should make things right to increase the open rate. First off, keep your subject line short and concise. Don’t forget to mention that the special offers won’t last forever, so they’d better hurry to shovel up products at reduced prices. If you have any added benefits, make sure to emphasise them. You can make a banner listing the advantages of shopping at your store, e.g. free shipping or a small gift for each order.
- SEO optimisation and Google ads Before marketing your products at reduced prices, make your flash sale pages likeable by search engines. Optimise them for keywords related to your products categories. For example, “iPhone flash sale”. That'll drive organic traffic from Google and other search engines. If the budget allows, consider adding Google Shopping ads to promote your product to the target audience.
Step 7: Prepare your shipping and fulfilment tactic
We’ve already agreed that giving products for free is a bad idea. However, you can provide chargeless shipping. That will help you a lot to turbocharge your sales. Actually, statistics say that:
- 73% of shoppers are more likely to purchase if the delivery is free;
- emails that offer information about free shipping are 72% more effective, meaning that they have a high open rate;
- free delivery generates 53% more revenue.
The numbers speak for themselves. Free shipping can be a make-or-break factor for your flash sale strategy.
Another thing to consider is fast shipping. Well, at least on-time shipping. Customers don’t really care that you’re having a flash sale and an avalanche of orders. They want their orders as fast as possible, on average in 1-3 days. So, make sure that:
- you’re prepared for a bunch of orders and have extra help to handle them
- pack products in advance to expedite the shipping process
- be proactive and inform your customers if there may be some delays
Step 8: Put premium on payments
A flash sale is pointless if you aren’t paid, or your payment provider has a hard time processing all your transactions. Needless to say that comfy online payments are essential for every e-commerce business, especially when a flash sale is in full bloom.
First and foremost, you should connect a reliable payment provider with Apple Pay and Google Pay for one-click payments, accept bank cards, and provide alternative payment methods, such as cryptocurrency or e-wallets. That is where Tranzzo can help you out. We have all the trending payment instruments, our own anti-fraud system, PCI DSS certification and much more to ensure smooth and hassle-free transactions.
Sign up for free, and our manager will contact you to discuss your project specifications, goals and wishes. If you need more information before creating a personal account, get in touch with our support team.
Hope this guide will help you run a successful flash sale and ramp your profits up.