Guide to Flash Sales: Benefits, Best Practices, and Illustrative Examples
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Guide to Flash Sales: Benefits, Best Practices, and Illustrative Examples

19 August 2023 27 March ~ 9 min read 3422 views
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Claspo Blog Guide to Flash Sales: Benefits, Best Practices, and Illustrative Examples

Great deals have long been an integral part of the online store strategy. One such deal is the flash sale, a proven pusher for impulse buys. A study in Cogent Business & Management has shown that these sales increase the excitement and pleasure of consumers. Consumers think they hit the jackpot and get something that will soon become unavailable to others. These feelings motivate them to buy immediately. 

With such an impact on buying behavior, flash sales can increase the purchase rate of your online stores by 35% on average. But only if you use them in your strategy wisely. Therefore, in this article, we focus on their benefits and pitfalls, provide the best tips on using this type of sale, and give visual examples for inspiration.

Table of Contents

What is a Flash Sale?

Key Benefits of Online Flash Sales for Your Business

Why Your Shopping Flash Sales May Fail

How to Do a Flash Sale: 12 Best Practices

Online Flash Sales + Claspo: Your Success Formula

Flash Sale Examples

Conclusion

What is a Flash Sale?

What_is_a_Flash_Sale_

Flash sale is a type of promotion that gives customers little time to get a big deal. Often, such a sale lasts up to two days, while the discount can reach 50-80%. With this clear benefit and a tight deadline, even the most procrastinating customers will consider buying immediately. They understand that they cannot return to this offer at any time, so they need to act now to get ahead of other determined shoppers. 

Key Benefits of Online Flash Sales for Your Business

Key_Benefits_of_Online_Flash_Sales

The advantage of a flash sale for customers is obvious - they have a unique chance to buy the desired product at a significantly reduced price. But customer satisfaction from a bargain purchase is not the only reason e-commerce platforms cut their prices in half or more.

Guaranteed Sales Lift

A recent survey of online shoppers found that two-thirds of them make an unplanned purchase when a brand offers a good discount, and an impressive 81% consider finding the best offer a desirable destination on their shopping journey.

Incentive to Buy Now

Flash sales as a limited-time offer affect not only the excitement and pleasure of buyers but also their fear of missing out (FOMO). 60% of online shoppers admit that FOMO makes them buy within the first 24 hours of seeing an offer. They fear their delay will cause them to miss the opportunity and regret it. 

Getting Rid of Excess Inventory

According to Forbes, excess inventory has become a pain point for many retailers in 2022. For example, Walmart's inventory rose by 33% while its sales increased by only 3%. If that's the case for you, a flash sale is an excellent opportunity to optimize inventory levels as soon as possible.

Visibility Improvement

Good deals with tight deadlines attract visitors and keep them on the website, increasing the average session duration. Besides, customers tend to share such deals via social media or word of mouth, which works well for your brand awareness. Last but not least. 80% of online shoppers admit that a discount, promo code, or other deal motivates them to buy from a new brand. It means that flash sales can encourage more customers to try your product. 

Selling Unpopular Items

Let's say you have a few products that sell the worst. A flash sale can help you get customers' attention to these items with their low price. Customers who like your product may repurchase and move it out of the worst-selling category. In another scenario, you'll just free up your storage space for more sellable items, which is also a good outcome. 

Whatever the goal of your flash sale, you can achieve it faster with the Claspo pop-up. Display your unique deal directly on your website and prepare for a conversion boom

Why Your Shopping Flash Sales May Fail

Why_Your_Shopping_Flash_Sales_May_Fail

Some retailers are surprised when their sales results significantly differ from the stated ones. Indeed, these buy-now pushers have pitfalls. If you do not consider them, your strategy also has a high chance of failure.

Slow Website Loading

Flash sales go hand in hand with increased traffic which affects your website's performance. If it loads too slow, most prospects will leave without making a purchase. Thus, all your efforts to attract customers to the on-site flash sale are in vain. In a perfect scenario, your website load time should stay between 0 and 2 seconds. Otherwise, every subsequent second will "steal" 4.42% conversion rates.

Premature Sold-Out 

More than half of the products sell out before the flash sale ends, and many shoppers fail to get the desired item because it is out of stock. The main reason is that some retailers overestimate their stock levels before flash sales. With this indiscretion, you can push customers to buy from competitors and abandon your brand after such a disappointing experience.

Shipping Issues 

A considerable number of orders during flash sales have a downside - the problem with their timely delivery. There are many cases where buyers wait weeks for their purchases. Meanwhile, a recent Easyship report showed that 80% want to receive their purchase the same day, and 17% may abandon a brand if it delays shipping. Given the high demands of buyers for delivery, you risk losing their loyalty after such a sale.

Attracting Deal Hunters

If your flash sales are focused only on first-time website visitors, you risk attracting a lot of deal hunters. Yes, this tactic can work if you only aim for instant profit. But if you are worried about overall strategy and customer lifetime value, these flash sales can play tricks on you. 

Deal hunters are loyal only to low prices rather than to your brand. As a result, they will hardly return to your site after the sale. In another scenario, you will have to attract them with constant discounts, which can affect your revenue and brand reputation. 

How to Do a Flash Sale: 12 Best Practices

How_to_Do_a_Flash_Sale

The good news is that you can avoid failure if you plan your flash deal thoroughly and develop a clear strategy for its running. To simplify your task, we have collected all the proven practices below.

1. Define a Clear Goal

A flash sale, like any campaign, must have a specific goal. Having set a goal, you will understand what products it makes sense to discount and what audience segment you need to target. At the end of the sale, you will be able to determine whether it was successful (that is, whether the goal was achieved). Here are some examples: 

  • Getting rid of holiday excess inventory 
  • Drawing attention to specific products 
  • Increasing the loyalty of existing customers 
  • Attracting new clients 
  • Triggering inactive customers or cart abandoners.

In fact, a flash deal can serve many different purposes, and you need to choose the one that best fits your overall strategy.

2. Segment Your Customers

Targeting your flash sale to a broad audience is a failing tactic for two main reasons. First, your offer will be devoid of any personalization. Meanwhile, 65% of customers expect personalized promotions from brands, and 76% buy from one that meets those expectations. Second, a for-all sale can put you in an awkward situation. For example, you cut the price of products your existing customers have already purchased at the original price. They are unlikely to be happy to learn that other shoppers can now buy it with a 60% discount. 

Therefore, focus on a specific segment of your audience. For example, you could run an exclusive flash sale on a new collection for existing customers with a long order history. This way, you increase their loyalty and, at the same time, check the demand for your newly launched products to avoid overproduction. 

Another tactic is to lure new customers to your online store, cutting the price of popular low-margin products your competitors have in stock. Finally, you can only offer significant discounts to hesitant shoppers who have abandoned their carts. Perhaps it was the price that stopped them from buying.

3. Choose Your Flash Sale Products Wisely

The success of your sale dramatically depends on the products you discount. To choose the right ones, you should rely on data.

Search Queries

With Google Keyword Planner, you can determine your audience's search terms. It allows you to understand what items attract customers the most in a selected period and give them what they need.

Competitor Data

Another winning tactic is to study the competitor's top products or bestsellers. If you offer the same or similar goods in your online store, you can give them at a discount and thus get ahead.

Your Products Data

When analyzing your assortment, you can pay special attention to the following:

  • Overstocked products. It is a good choice if your goal is to free up space for new arrivals.
  • Iconic products or bestsellers of your brand. By offering products that are your signature, you can increase brand awareness.
  • Products with high views but low conversion rates. Your customers may browse but don't buy them because of the price. In this case, price cuts can work great to increase loyalty.

4. Choose a Suitable Sale Period

There are two main periods when sales work perfectly:

  • Pre-holiday. It's no secret that the holidays are always associated with shopping activity and discounts. 2022 Thanksgiving and Black Friday retailer revenues were 5.3 and 9.12 billion, respectively. At the same time, 56% of customers started shopping in October. It means you can run a flash sale before the peak season and hit the target.

Check_out_the_holiday_revenue_reveal

  • Post-holiday. The holidays are over, but the shopping activity remains. 70% of customers surveyed are willing to continue shopping after Christmas. Your sale could be most welcome given their big spending before and during the holidays.

But you still don't have to be tied to the holidays. Instead, you can create an occasion for your online flash sales. For example, you can schedule them to coincide with some significant date for your brand or just start them at 11:11 on August 11 for fun and extra attention. The main advantage of this tactic is the minimal competition compared to the mentioned holiday periods.

5. Set the Right Time Limit

Remembering the flash sale definition, you can only run it for a short time. Otherwise, it's not that flash. The duration of such a sale is usually at most 48 hours, and 2-hour or 3-hour deadlines have the highest purchase rates.

Determine the days and hours with the most traffic on your website using Google Analytics. It will help you choose the best time to start the sale and not lose conversions.

6. Promote Your Sale in Advance

Even your best sale can fail if no one knows about it. Since it has a tight time limit, it's in your best interest to bring as many ready-to-buy visitors to your site as possible at the right time. Therefore, run flash sale advertising in advance to: 

  • Stir up customer interest in an upcoming opportunity 
  • Notify customers of the date, time, and essential details 
  • Grow your list of subscribers if your flash sale aims to attract new customers.

Email

An email campaign is excellent for advertising if your flash sale targets existing customers or prospects who have subscribed to your newsletter earlier. In this case, be sure to indicate the size of the proposed discount in the subject line. These emails drive an 18.1% conversion rate on average, as most shoppers have an eye for good deals. Thus, you can  attract an audience to the upcoming sale and make a profit. 

Social Media

A McKinsey study found that social media significantly influences purchasing decisions directly (recommending a product was a decisive factor in a purchase) and indirectly (when social media was one of the touchpoints in a customer's journey). With this in mind, you can promote your flash sale on social platforms in many ways: 

  • Announce the deal as soon as you decide on the date and time
  • Ask followers to tag friends under the post in exchange for some goodies 
  • Add a reminder post on the eve of the start 
  • Run ads if it fits your budget.

Website Pop-Ups

Entrepreneur reports that websites with pop-ups have 4x higher conversion rates than websites without them—16% versus 3.7% conversion rate, to be exact. At the same time, pop-ups with marketing offers and essential, timely information work best. And this is what you need at the advertising stage - to inform website visitors about the upcoming flash sale and briefly describe its benefits. When customers see how much they can save on your online store soon, they are more likely to revisit your site on X-day.

Website_Pop_Ups

Stir up customer interest in your upcoming flash sale with an informative pop-up on your website

7. Provide Free Shipping 

According to the Consumer Trends Report, 66% of shoppers expect free shipping on any online order. Therefore, by adding this bonus to your flash sale, you automatically increase its value for your customers. Besides, if the delivery is free, customers are less annoyed by the delays, which often occur during the sales season.

Provide_Free_Shipping

8. Emphasize Limited Offer

Most customers put off shopping for later because they believe they control the time. In this case, your task is to remind them that control is yours and your deal is limited. For this purpose, you can reinforce your buy-now call to action with:

Countdown Timer

This timer is designed to create a sense of urgency that has been proven to increase buying intent. When using it, you clearly show shoppers that every hour, if not minute, counts and encourage them to make a decision now. For example, placing a countdown timer next to the MusicLawContracts “Download this contract now” button increased conversion rates by as much as 147%.

Number of Items in Stock

Displaying the number of items left is one of the most effective scarcity marketing tactics. Research shows that the fewer products left, the greater their value and attractiveness to buyers. There is a simple customer logic here: 

  • If there are few goods left, they are in demand, 
  • If they are in demand, they are valuable, 
  • If they are valuable, I definitely need them, 
  • And since the number of goods is limited, I need them now.

9. Check Your Stock Levels

As mentioned earlier, items can sell out before the flash sale ends, ruining your brand image. But there is a practical approach to avoid it:

  • Analyze buying trends and metrics from your previous sales to predict how many units of each item you need for your planned flash sale.
  • Provide additional or safe stock of discount products if demand exceeds expected.
  • Monitor stock levels during a sale in real-time. It will help you indicate the number of units left on the product page. Besides, it will allow you to identify when promotional goods are running out and replenish your stocks timely.

10. Check Your Website Performance

Preparing your e-commerce platform for massive traffic is a must before a flash sale. If it takes a long time to load, a high bounce rate and abandoned carts are guaranteed. Therefore, you should:

  • Carry out load testing with high-traffic simulation
  • Identify and get rid of broken links that degrade website performance
  • Set up lazy loading of images for fast initial site loading
  • Enable Gzip compression for faster data transfer to buyers' browsers
  • Optimize the mobile version, as most customers visit your website from smartphones.

11. Make Your Sale Visible

Imagine that your flash sale advertising brought a lot of ready-to-buy visitors to your website on X-Day, but it takes a long time to find the desired discounted items. In this case, you risk losing the lion's share of your conversions. Today, 61% of customers leave a website if they don't find the right product within five seconds. 

And that's where pop-ups come to the rescue again. You can add a pop-up with your special offer to the homepage, which will allow you to: 

  • Grab the attention of website visitors immediately 
  • Improve customer experience 
  • Minimize the time it takes to find the right products 
  • Easily redirect customers to sale product pages.

Make_Your_Sale_Visible

Move website visitors to your flash sale immediately and keep conversions

12. Don't Abuse Flash Sales

Frequent sales become predictable sooner or later. In this case, you can no longer appeal to urgency and fear of missing out. Your customers know for sure that if they don't buy today, they will have the same opportunity tomorrow and a month from now. It will hurt your conversion rates over time. 

Besides, you lose customer loyalty. Remember the flash sale meaning? It is a deal with a strict time limit. Customers believed your offer was only available for a short time and made an impulse purchase. But in fact, they could take their time, carefully consider their decision, and buy in your next flash sale. Isn't it a scam? Finally, frequent sales hurt your bottom line as you have to sacrifice 30%, 50%, or 90% of the original price each time.

Online Flash Sales + Claspo: Your Success Formula

With a focus on the customer experience and your conversions, Claspo's smart pop-ups provide many exclusive opportunities to make your sale a success.

100% Personalization

  • UTM targeting. With Claspo, you can serve a personalized pop-up to those visitors who have navigated to your website from a specific marketing campaign. For example, you advertised your sale only to inactive customers or cart abandoners through an email campaign. You can specify the appropriate UTM parameters in the settings and be sure that only the right audience segment will see your flash sale pop-up on the website.
  • Geotargeting. Let's say your online store operates in different countries, but you only run a flash sale in certain ones. In this case, you can easily set up your pop-up to be displayed only to visitors from your chosen locations.
  • Dynamic language settings. What if your target audience is multilingual? Claspo gets covered! Create one pop-up with your flash sale offer in several languages. After that, each visitor will see your message depending on the language of their browser or the language they choose on your website.

Conversion-Focused Design

  • Countdown timer. With Claspo, you can easily use this conversion booster in your informative pop-up ads. Our library includes 80+ ready-made countdown timer templates, each of which can be customized to fit your website design. What's more, you can add this element to any pop-up you create from scratch.

Conversion_Focused_Design

  • Slider. Want to show off all your flash sale products without annoying your website visitors with many pop-ups? Showcase all your discount items in one Claspo slider! Add unlimited images, choose the display order, and adjust the slide rotation speed.

Stress-Free Management

  • Campaign scheduling. Your great deal pop-up should be displayed on the homepage only while your flash sale is valid. Otherwise, website visitors will see your offer but not be able to use it, which will disappoint them. With Claspo, you don't have to worry about it. Specify your sale's start and end date (or time) in the pop-up settings, and we will start and stop it automatically for you.
  • Analytics. With built-in analytics, you can easily track the performance of your pop-up in real-time. What's more, 5000+ Claspo integrations allow you to transfer all data into a single data storage repository of your choice. Gain complete control over your customer behaviors and make data-driven decisions.

Analytics

Let Claspo pop-ups increase customer experience and conversion rate on your website

Flash Sale Examples

Flash_Sale_Examples

Many retailers take the chance to encourage customers to buy now. At the same time, everyone has an individual approach to influencing shoppers.

Homepage

The homepage is the most popular place to promote a flash sale on X-Day as it ensures all website visitors stumble on your limited-time offer.

Best Buy uses a large static banner warning that the flash sale ends tonight, the WWE Shop announces that the deal ends with an eye-catching pop-up, and Shein amplifies its offer with a countdown timer.

Website_flash_sale_bannerOn_site_flash_sale_ad

Website_flash_sale_pop_up

Online_flash_sales_with_timer

Product Card

In these examples from Amazon, a flash sale is being promoted on discounted product cards. That is, users find a list of products using an on-site search engine and see which can now purchase at a favorable discount. Some cards also contain the number of items left or sold in the last month to stir up customers' interest. 

Amazon_flash_sale

Amazon_flash_sale_examples

Amazon_shopping_flash_sales

Product Page

eBay and Shein focus shoppers on a flash sale right on product pages. Shein still appeals to a sense of urgency with a countdown timer while an eBay retailer shows the number of items available and sold.

SHEIN_example

eBay_ example

Conclusion

A flash sale can help you achieve a variety of goals. But like any tool, it works great only when used correctly. Therefore, do not run it thoughtlessly inspired by the claimed benefits. Instead, take a strategic approach. Ask yourself: Why do you need a flash sale? Which customers will benefit from it the most? How will it affect your overall strategy? Knowing the answers to all these questions, you should not fear failure.

Want to increase your success chances? Use pop-ups to draw customers' attention to your sale and simplify their path to conversions

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