DTC eCommerce brands have many sales tactics they can use to reach new customers, boost revenue and build awareness. But it is not always easy to know which is the right tactic to employ. Here is a quick list of the major types of eCommerce event sales that brands can run to gain revenue, customers and market share.
1. Flash Sales
Flash sales are short-term discounts that aim to create a sense of urgency. Customers are encouraged to buy something before time runs out and the deal ends.
Typically a flash sale will differ from regular sales in three ways: The discounts are usually much better, the timespan of the sale is much shorter and there’s a limited number of products available.
If you’re going to run a flash sale, nailing the promotion of it is key, says HubSpot’s Jay Fuchs. “Promote the sale ahead of time, and let potential customers research your offering on their own, he advises. “You can do this through promotional social media posts, email marketing, or any other form of targeted advertising to quickly get your preferred customers on your site.”
2. Limited Runs and Exclusive Products
Rather than limiting the timeframe of your eCommerce sale, you could choose to limit the product. With a limited run or product drop sale, brands create exclusive editions of products and only sell a certain number. Once they are gone, they’re gone for good.
Limited edition product runs are a “masterclass” in marketing strategy, says the team at Selligent. Consumers have the impression that these products are worth much more than they actually are — and they’re willing to pay. Launches and exclusives that generate buzz also help brands stand out in a sea of sameness.
Two good example from the fashion world: in January, British luxury brand Burberry released their “Future Archive” which is limited-edition capsule collection by designer Riccardo Tisci. Skiwear label Moncler has its “Genius” line, a monthly series of limited-edition jackets by different designers.
3. Joint and Co-Branded Sales
Sales events do not have to be limited to your own brand or your own products. One strategy is to offer joint or co-branded sales with one or more partners. Two partners offer discounts linked to each other’s product and both brands benefit from increased exposure to new customers.
Running this kind of co-branded sales event is as simple as creating discount codes for your chosen partner, says eCommerce writer Brandon Harville. You can promote your partner’s discount codes to your audience while they do the same for your codes. “You can even go the extra mile and make your discounts reciprocal,” he adds. “That means that you and your partners honor each other’s coupons. Your coupon works with participating companies and vice versa.”
“[Co-branded sales] familiarizes new potential customers with what you offer and increases the likelihood that they’ll convert in the future,” writes Nia Gyant at WordStream. She points to the joint promotion between fast food restaurant Red Robin and the X-Men Wolverine film as a great example of this sales strategy in action. In the promotion, the burger chain gave customers with Wolverine tickets a discount. Wolverine benefited by attracting more people (even if they cared more about the burger than the film), while Red Robin won a greater share of post-film diners than they normally would have.
4. One-Off Discounts
One-off discounts are not usually product-specific. Instead, they give users a dollar amount or percentage off the total purchase made. These discounts can be available to everyone, or exclusive to a subset of your customers. This means there are plenty of opportunities to run one-off discounts, writes Polly Wong, President at direct marketing firm Belardi Wong. You can run offers to celebrate customer birthdays, or hold special promotions to re-engage lapsed customers, she says.
You’ll have to decide whether to give consumers a percentage a dollar amount discount. If you’re wondering which is better, so did direct marketing consultant Craig Simpson. There is not a lot of solid evidence, but Simpson cites one study that compared the impact of a 15% discount to a $50 discount.
“The results of the test were quite clear,” he writes at Entrepreneur. “The $50 off coupon generated 170% more revenue than the 15% off coupon, and its conversion rate was 72% higher. Interestingly, however, with subject lines that clearly stated the offer as either 15% off or $50 off, the open rates and click-through rates were pretty much the same for the two versions. This means that people were opening both emails, but responding better to the $50 off coupon.”
The benefit of one-off discounts is that brands can be discerning in who they choose to reward. Anyone can take part in a flash sale, but only a consumer with a code can use a one-off discount. That makes loyal consumers the ideal recipients, says eCommerce writer Francesca Nicasio. “Doing so not only maximizes profitability but also helps increase loyalty among the shoppers who matter most.”
5. Gated Sales
A gated sale is any kind of sales event (limited run, flash sale or site-wide discount) that is reserved for a particular segment of your audience. In most cases, this will be loyal customers or friends and family.
The idea is that only a select customer cohort will know about the sale, while most of your customers continue to purchase full-price goods. Gated sales minimize strain on your server and avoid diluting your brand value with too many discounts.
Gated promotions are a particularly good way to pay back the loyalty that repeat customers show, writes Stacey Corrin at RafflePress. A gated sale only gives discounts to the customers who have actually earned them and you make those customers feel even more special by inviting them to a VIP section of your site.
Gated sales aren’t limited to rewarding customers and even employees. They can also be used to launch new products. Take DTC children’s clothing company Little and Lively, for instance. Speaking to Eric Bandholz at Practical eCommerce, Co-Founder Jordan West explains how he gated his website to launch a new product, which generated $250,000 in sales without any ads. He didn’t even have to discount the product. Simply gating the site was enough to drive demand and conversions.
Have you found a sales strategy that interests you? The revenue from eCommerce sales can be impactful, and also can be a boost to the brand. Read our article on how eCommerce sales are an important marketing tool as well.