Remember when you opened your inbox and saw an email saying, “20% off EVERYTHING plus free shipping! Hurry this sale ends in 2 hours!”? Suddenly, you feel a rush of excitement and an urge to purchase the items before the time is up. You click your mouse rigorously adding items to your cart and finally receive a message: “Your order will arrive within 2-5 business days.” You let out a deep sigh of relief and await your order. Congrats, you’ve been successfully targeted by a flash sale.
What Are Flash Sales?
Flash sales are when eCommerce stores discount items for a limited period of time. The primary purpose of a flash sale is to provide limited accessibility and trigger FOMO (fear of missing out). By creating this feeling, customers are more likely to take action.
Benefits of Flash Sales
Here are some reasons why you might want to use a flash sale strategy for your online store:
1. Increases Conversion Rates
Hosting flash sales can increase conversions due to the limited offer and time. Often, prospects browse sites to look for deals before the holidays and may leave items in the cart to purchase later. This can lead to prospects forgetting about the item and losing interest. However, with flash sales, customers are urged to make their purchases on the spot due to FOMO.
2. Improves Brand Recognition
Flash sales improve your brand’s visibility through affiliate marketing and social media ads. Although some individuals may not be interested in what you’re offering, they’ll most likely share your flash sale posts with their friends and family, allowing your brand to get more exposure.
3. Helps Clear Extra Inventory
Having enough inventory for products can be challenging. This is where flash sales come to the rescue. Flash sales help you clear “out of season” products to make room for new inventory. For instance, if you’re an apparel store selling clothing for all four seasons, you can host a flash sale to get rid of summer items to make room for fall fashion.
4. Helps Build Your Email List
New customers who enjoy your flash sales wouldn’t want to miss out on the next one you offer. This gives you an opportunity to get them to sign up for your email list.
Ideal Times to Run Flash Sales
Running a flash sale with no purpose can undervalue the sale and confuse customers. Timing is important when it comes to running special sales like this. Consider the following times to run flash sales.
Before the Holiday Season
Customers are bombarded with emails from tons of businesses. This causes irritation, fatigue, and makes them ignore the overall message.
Run a flash sale with synchronized holiday ads before the holiday season to help gain customers for both your flash sales and the holidays. This way, you’re more likely to get their attention, you’re ahead of your competition, and you have a larger customer base before the holiday season begins!
After the Holiday Season
It’s common to see an increase in returns once the holiday season is over. Customers are returning unwanted gifts, and you can make up for this loss by offering a flash sale in January.
Every Few Months
Running flash sales frequently can defame your brand’s reputation. Timing plays a critical role in making your sales look valuable. Tying your sales into holidays such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or Valentine’s Day can add purpose to your sales and get more customers to purchase from you.
Flash Sale Failures to Overcome
Setting up a flash sale is the easy part. You choose your products, select a date and time, adjust your prices and wait for the traffic to roll in. However, eCommerce companies must consider the risks when running flash sales. Poorly executed flash sales can result in:
Here are four reasons why flash sales can potentially fail to impress, and how you can overcome them:
1. Website Crashing
Imagine you’re shopping online, and you get to the checkout to purchase your items. Suddenly, the website crashes. It’s frustrating, isn’t it? Customers who experience this won’t revisit your site and will buy from competitors with a more stable website. Kissmetrics discovered that 47% of customers expect a page to load within 2 seconds, and 40% of users will leave your site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
How Can You Prevent This?
Ask yourself: Is my website working properly?
Make sure to test load your site on all devices and forecast potential flash sale traffic, depending on how consumers usually respond to your marketing. For instance, look at previous flash sales you’ve done or holiday sales such as BFCM (Black Friday Cyber Monday) to predict what the traffic will be for this flash sale.
2. Overselling Inventory
Building excitement for customers and leading them to your website just to tell them that the item is out of stock can result in disappointment and tarnish your brand’s reputation. Did you know that more than 45% of items from flash sales sell out faster than expected? Not having enough inventory to meet demand or miscalculating demand can be costly and affect sales.
How Can You Prevent This?
Ask yourself: Do I have enough inventory to satisfy volume?
Do thorough research on the demand required to prepare your supply chain correspondingly to prevent this from happening. Use real-time inventory updates on your website to let customers know that the product they’re trying to purchase is limited or out of stock. This can reduce customer dissatisfaction and distrust in your brand.
3. Shipping Delays
Don’t assume that your customers are satisfied with you after making a purchase. Not only does pre-purchase count, but so does post-purchase. In fact, 40% of customers consider post-purchase to be the most memorable part of the brand experience. This is where shipping strategies come into play. While 80% of customers expect same-day delivery, 63% want it within 1-3 hours.
How Can You Prevent This?
Ask yourself: How long will it take customers to receive my products?
Provide customers with accurate shipping status. If you are shipping internationally, let customers know that the product would take about 2-4 weeks to arrive. If the item ends up being delivered later than the expected date, show your concern to customers and offer them a discount or free shipping for the next purchase they make.
4. Flash Sale Fatigue
The more you host flash sales, the less exciting it will be, leaving customers to only purchase your products when they are discounted. 52% of consumers feel overwhelmed by the massive number of “bargain-boasting” emails they receive frequently.
How Can You Prevent This?
Ask yourself: Are customers getting tired of what I’m selling to them?
Keep track of the number of times you’re running flash sales. It is recommended not to run flash sales more than three times per year. This way, your flash sales are spread out occasionally to excite your customers.
4 Best Practices to Run Flash Sales
Now that we’ve seen the DONT’s, let’s jump into the DO’s of flash sales!
1. Determine What Products to Flash Sell
You can’t just choose any product to put on sale. A Halloween flash sale isn’t going to be attractive if it were running in December. If you’re hosting a Mother’s Day flash sale, put a discount on the “For Her” section.
Another factor to consider is whether you should put a few products on sale or discount the whole store. The answer to this question may depend on the season or your stock.
Consider using these tips to help you choose the right product to sell:
2. Pick the Best Day and Time
There’s no point in creating the best flash sale if consumers won’t see it. Use tools such as Google Analytics or Hotjar to determine which day and time users are browsing your site the most.
Split test your emails based on timing and split test your ads based on imagery or ad copy to see which one performs better. Beam.city DNA allows you to see all the analytics and conduct split tests on all your favourite ad platforms in ONE place!
Try not to exceed 24 hours for your flash sale. In fact, Experian states that email open rates were 14% higher than average during 2-hour flash sales and 59% higher than average for 3-hour flash sales.
3. Communicate Effectively
Flash sales are quick, and within these few hours, multiple customers will be awaiting answers to their questions.
You must prepare yourself to communicate with customers at a fast pace. Practicing quick lead response time can be a great strategy to use for flash sales. Use the 5-minute rule to reach out to customers quickly. Studies show that when sales teams respond to users in under 5 minutes, conversions skyrocketed 21 times more.
DNA provides Instant Lead Alerts to improve businesses’ chances of beating the 5-minute rule and reaching out to customers when they are most interested. Check out our blog to read more about this!
Post consistently on social media about the flash sale starting a month before. This way, customers are notified about your flash sale way before the day of, and you’ll be able to catch their attention earlier than your competitors. Using Instagram or Snapchat stories is a great way to announce your flash sales, as stories only last 24 hours. Also, 70% of Instagram users watch stories daily, and 25% of Gen Z and Millennials find products and services through stories.
4. Use Countdown Timers
Remember when you were writing a test, and you kept looking at the clock to see how much time you had left to finish? Countdowns are a great way to create a sense of urgency and FOMO for consumers.
De Nieuwe Zaak, a full-service eCommerce agency based in the Netherlands, conducted split tests and discovered that a countdown timer increased conversions by 8.6%.
Use Facebook Countdown ads and Instagram Story Countdown stickers to put this practice into action.
Beam.city Can Help!
Flash sales are a fantastic way to generate more sales when used appropriately. Successful flash sales can increase brand awareness, enhance your email list and maximize profits. Who wouldn’t love that?
Run a successful flash sale with the help of Beam.city DNA! With DNA, run enticing ads using our split testing feature, and find your ideal audience within minutes. Book a meeting with us to find out more!
(available during EST office hours)