There’s no denying that your eCommerce customers are your greatest asset. Often, however, merchants become so preoccupied with garnering more first-time customers that they forget about their already existing, loyal community of customers.
One of the biggest benefits to customer retention is the effect it has on your revenue. Loyal customers are more likely to pay more as they trust that what’s coming in the mail is going to be top quality. More purchases equal higher profits. What’s more, 86% of customers are willing to pay 25% more for a stellar customer experience.
Customer acquisition is an uphill battle as the success rate of marketing campaigns rests at 5-20%. Customer retention boasts a much healthier 60-70% success rate. So, it’s time to pull up the socks and show your customers that you care!
Running exclusive flash sales for your most important customers is a great way to make them feel valued and encourage them to continue being a top notch customer.
Creating a pull to entice your customers to return to your store is tricky. If you’re one of the many stores flooding your customers’ inboxes with cringy promotions, then they will put you in the category of:
“They should be grateful I purchased from them in the first place. They won’t be getting any more business from me!”
However, if you’re solely relying on excellent customer service to generate repeat customers, you might be forgotten amidst the marketing bells and whistles of your competitors.
This is why a flash sale can be the perfect middle ground; a pull that offers value to your customer. We’ll be going into detail on how to create exclusivity and hype around a flash sale to get customers excited about your brand.
What is a flash sale?
In a nutshell, a flash sale is a sale that runs for a limited time only, offering heavily discounted goods. The purpose is to play on customers’ impulses - the psychology of a discount thrill - to get your community to re-engage with your store and recapture sales.
Just as with brick-and-mortar retailers, the best flash sales make it impossible for the customer to walk out without making a purchase.
Why is it beneficial to run a flash sale?
How to prepare for a flash sale
1. Determine the goal of your flash sale
The obvious answer is to make sales. However, you might also need to reduce inventory before a new season. You may also want to place focus on a particular product that you want customers to market by leaving reviews, talking about on Instagram and via word of mouth. Whatever it is, you’ll want to be clear about your goals so your team can orchestrate a flash sale tailored for success.
2. Choose a target audience
In this article, we’re focusing on how to win over your VIP customers, but flash sales can also increase new traffic to your site. You have limited options with advertising to a specific group of existing customers, rather than all customers in general; but you can get creative with your options
3. Choose appropriate products and determine your discounts
It’s all well and good to boost sales until you’ve worsened your bottom line in the process. Margins can already be tight in the competitive eCommerce market. We suggest planning ahead to make sure that you can afford the discounts.
4. Consider your marketing
A flash-sales needs hype to attain maximum impact and maximum sales. Check out our guidelines below on how to promote your flash-sale through social media and email campaigns.
5. Check your inventory
There’s not much worse than a valued customer committing to an order and later being told that the item isn’t available. This sours their experience and with 74% of millennials stating they’d switch retailers after such an encounter, it’s important to update inventory levels prior to a flash-sale. It’s a good plan to estimate demand, prepare your shipping and delivery for mass orders.
6. Promote well before the event
It might seem counterintuitive to give customers a heads up before a flash-sale but, let me explain.
Consumers enjoy researching products before purchasing, and an impulse buy won’t work unless you have time to show that your products are high value, customer approved and competitively priced. Therefore, announce the flash sale at least a week before the launch.
How to identify your most important customers
What constitutes an important customer?
Of course, all customers are valuable. However, some are more likely to be return shoppers with higher than average order values. You can use your customer database, including metrics such as customer lifetime value to segment your ‘important’ customers by their number of purchases and overall spend amount.
You can access all of this data through your Shopify store. From your Shopify admin, go to Analytics > Reports.
This section of your community may be a significant part of your revenue and also act as brand ambassadors, so it’s good to show them some love!
Advertising a flash sale to your VIP customers
So, where’s the best place to advertise a flash sale to your VIP customers? Check out our suggestions below.
You may want to segment your subscriber list based on customers’ total spend.
Get the word out via order confirmation emails & shipping confirmation emails. Spend time in creating personalised, alluring compositions rather than generic, junk-mail banners.
Dedicated unlisted landing page
Think about including a link to this exclusive page dedicated to your flash-sale within your email campaign. A countdown clock is a must to ramp up feelings of anticipation and excitement.
Include a note in a specific customer’s order to advertise the upcoming sale. Personal touches show your brand’s character in the best light and remind your customer why they value your store in the first place.
Running a flash sale on Shopify
Shopify is a scalable cloud-hosted platform, unlike others such as Magento. They use content delivery networks (CDNs) distributed around the globe to deliver content quickly, with 99.98% server uptime.
Shopify’s state-of-the-art servers prevent you from worrying about high levels of traffic on your store. With other platforms, the traffic surge from a flash sale can lead to a crash. Obviously, this isn’t good!
Designing a flash sale requires a lot of prep work. You don’t want your eCommerce platform being the cause for lost sales and customer dissatisfaction during such an important event.
Types of flash sales
Registration Flash Sale
Consider asking your email list to register for your flash sale to get a feeling for how impactful this event will be.
VIP or Early Bird Flash Sale
The mystery of a VIP sale brings with it excitement and intrigue. Remember to leave a breadcrumb trail of teaser content to get customers racing to your online store to fill their checkout baskets.
Seasonal flash sale
Whatever the festivity, capture the excitement of gift-giving and holiday cheer with a flash sale.
Optimise your flash sale
- Try not to use a flash sale to reduce your inventory of random sizes left in last season’s stock. To create trust with your customers, a flash sale should provide a deep discount on quality products.
- Displaying remaining inventory on your product pages helps convince your customer to commit to a purchase.
- Offer your customers an additional discount when they spend over a certain amount. Online shoppers expect discounts, so consider adding in a bonus to keep your customers happy, e.g. spend over $500 and receive 25% off.
- Free shipping is not only a great incentive but not offering it can cause a bottleneck in the checkout process.
Using Launchpad to manage flash sales on Shopify Plus
Launchpad’s pretty great. It’s a pocket PA for all those events that need planning. Keeping on top of all the price changes, marketing, and inventory levels in the lead up to your flash sale can be overwhelming. I’m pretty sure Shopify created Launchpad to prevent their Shopify Plus customers from going prematurely bald from ripping out their hair while coordinating sale events!
Where Launchpad excels is in scheduling events in advance. eCommerce merchants often arrange flash-sales during working hours, which is not the peak time for your customers to carry out their online shopping. Launchpad allows you to plan your event ahead of time and roll it out at the time of maximum impact. You’ll never have to work through the night for your midnight flash-sale again!
So what does Launchpad do?
Well, I’m glad you asked because I happen to love writing long lists of useful features.
- Publish new products and descriptions
- Product prices changes
- Adjust your site’s theme and images to match event
- Lock your store before flash sales to build anticipation
- Automatically offer gifts with purchase
- Create product bundles
- Enable Captcha during events to prevent bots buying all your stock
- Offer additional offers during sales
Well, that was fun!
As always, we’re here to give you the best advice to blast your eCommerce store to the top. We provide professional consultation tailored to your store and give you the down low on the up and coming in eCommerce marketing. Get in touch with us if you're looking for digital commerce experts.