9 Essentials to Running a Flash Sale
By: Sandy Stark
5 min read, Marketing
A flash sale is unlike any other promotion or sale in that it runs for only a short time – from a few hours to a few days - creating an urgency to buy. Studies show shorter is better. Moreover, the discount offered is typically deeper than traditional sales. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are good examples when a number of popular merchants run highly anticipated flash sale events.
Holding a flash sale is not for the faint of heart. If executed poorly you run the risk of eroding profits, attracting disloyal, one-time customers or in some cases tarnishing your brand image. Done right, however, a flash sale can be immensely profitable. Wix data from e-Commerce merchants who ran flash sales in 2020 shows these events have on average, increased monthly GMV by over 64,000%.
Your optometry practice can reap the rewards of flash sales too. They are a great tool to moving old inventory in frames and accessories. They can also be useful in attracting new patients, improving existing patient loyalty, incentivizing bookings of eye exams and boosting the sale of non-promotional items through increased store traffic. But, before launching your e-commerce store into its first flash sale there is homework to be done that will improve your results.
Here is a checklist of 9 basic essentials that will up your odds of having a successful sale:
ESTABLISH YOUR GOAL: Determine what you hope to achieve with the sale. Your goals will set the stage for everything that follows. Here are a few reasons you may run a flash sale:
- boost revenue during a slow season
- move slow selling product
- attract new patients
- improve existing patient loyalty
- re-engage inactive patients
SELECT YOUR PRODUCT: Choose products and/or services that best align with your goal. If your goal is to sell off excess inventory, that decision is easier. If your goal is to boost revenue during a slow season, your product choice must be attractive to your target market.
Another consideration is logistics. As you select your product you must know your inventory limitations and how you will fulfill orders in a timely manner.
SET YOUR PRICING: A flash sale is expected to be enticing with an irresistible offer your customers don’t see every day. That doesn’t mean you have to price yourself out of a profit. Deeper discounts will surely capture more attention. But, if you carry recognized or luxury brands that are rarely, if ever discounted even a modest offer such as 10%-15% off can be attractive. If feasible, aim to sit lower than your average sale but slightly higher than your lowest possible price. Ultimately, let your sale goals be your guide.
These are some of the more common promotional offers used by retailers:
- percentage discount – one of the most popular and effective offers
- xx dollars off - an alternative to the percentage discount; sometimes ‘Get $50 Off!” sounds better than ‘Save 15%’; eg. Save $50 Off Frames with Purchase of New Prescription Lenses!
- BOGO events – great for moving excess inventory of products such as frames and sunglasses
- multi buys / multi saves – buy 3 and get one free! / buy and save off entire sale; works well for moving excess inventory and protecting profits by encouraging larger purchases; ideal for commodity type products such as contact lenses or eye drops
- free shipping – an attractive offer for online shoppers; offers the pricing of shopping in person with the convenience of shopping from home
PLAN YOUR TIMING: When to hold your flash sale will largely depend on your business model and the products/services you sell. Looking at your transaction history will tell you when your patients tend to buy the most. Let that data dictate what day of the week and what hours of day the majority of your transactions take place and plan your event around those times.
Exercise caution if you plan to launch your sale during the holidays. If that is typically a peak season, a sale may be a profitable opportunity to attract new patients and generate revenue. If however, your practice is slow during these months, you run the risk of being drowned out by all the pre-holiday noise. It isn't uncommon for shoppers to experience flash sale fatigue during this time of the year as they are bombarded with ads and emails starting in October.
In terms of frequency, repeatedly holding sales can negatively impact your brand reputation not to mention your bottom line. The idea is to leave your patients something to look forward to, not something to wait out. Think about the stores you frequent who run sales all the time. Do you ever buy anything full price? Less is more. A few sales a year or an annual event works well.
DEFINE YOUR MARKET: As with your product selection, your objective for this sale will ultimately determine who the buyers will be. Zeroing in on your target market will also improve the open rate of your pre-launch emails and increase your ROI. For example, let's say your goal is to boost revenue or improve existing patient loyalty. Directing your flash sale to those patients who recently paid full price for the products you will be offering on sale, will only prove disappointing to them. Conversely, if you are looking to attract new patients, an email campaign to your existing patients is counterproductive unless you consider offering a referral reward. Alternatively, you could try running paid ads on social media or cross promote with local businesses.
LIVE UP TO YOUR HYPE: Urgency is key to the success of your flash sale. You want to entice your shoppers to purchase right away and resist procrastination. FOMO – fear of missing out – is a real thing and the psychology behind it, where people fear missing out on an opportunity, has been marketed to great success time and again. There you have the key ingredients to your successful sale: A tempting deal, on a product your customer values in limited quantity for a limited time.
NAIL YOUR PRE-LAUNCH: Okay, you are ready to go. You have defined the goal of your flash sale, selected the product(s), established the offer, chosen the date and determined who is your target buyer. It's time for your pre-launch! This phase begins approximately 5-7 days before your sale. This is the time to whet the appetite of your buyers, building anticipation.
Despite the popularity of social media, email still reigns supreme as the channel with the highest level of reach. Check out our blog about email campaigns for tips on segmenting your lists and creating engaging copy. Your subject line must be eye catching and should include some reference to FLASH SALE. Try using emojis to stand out in the inbox!
Examples for your subject line:
- FLASH SALE! 25% OFF ALL FRAMES! ONE DAY ONLY!
- By INVITATION ONLY! Friends and Family BOGO Event! This Fri-YAY!
- 12 HOUR SALE ON ALL SUNGLASSES! 50% OFF!
- LAST CALL! Only hours left to save 60% OFF CLEARANCE!
These are the emails to send:
- Announcement: Send 1-2 days prior to your sale. Not too early or your campaign will lose momentum. Make it concise and flashy. Be sure to include the discount rate, date, duration, what is on sale and any code that is required.
- Launch Day: Schedule to send this early in the morning on the day of your sale. Use similar copy as your announcement and don’t forget the link and code!
- Countdown/Last Call!: Chances are the majority of your sales happen in the first few hours of your event. Still, do not neglect to send out this reminder on the final day or last few hours of your sale for one last reminder.
Begin dropping those social media teasers about a week prior to launch day. Use graphics, video, stories, carousels, surveys and polls to increase engagement. You can post across all your channels, just know you will likely get more visibility where you typically see your most activity in clicks, reactions and comments. Unlike emails, you additionally can allow for more leeway in terms of frequency of posts.
More Ways to Promote Your Flash Sale
- website / storefront banners
- newsletter announcement
- SMS (text) notification
- email invitations for RSVP tracking
- lives on social media
STEER YOUR SALE: On the big day make certain you are actively responding to emails. Keep your eyes on social media and answer any questions that show up on your posts. In short, be available to help with checkout procedures or product questions. Two of the main complaints during a flash sale will involve site failures and inventory issues.
TRACK YOUR RESULTS: How did you do? When the sale is over your next step is to evaluate the results and look for ways to improve. Much of this process is trial and error and adapting as you go.
Track these metrics as key performance indicators:
- sales revenue
- sales by product
- email open rates and click throughs
- abandoned carts
- visitor traffic
- cross/up sells
- email opt ins/outs
- social media interactions
- new patients gained
Powering Your E-commerce Store for Your Practice
Sightly is YOUR e-commerce store for YOUR patients to continue purchase the products YOU sell in between their visits (contact lenses, eye-drops, eye-vitamins, frames, etc.).
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