Direct-to-consumer brands often shy away from flash sales.This is a mistake. Flash sales are effective marketing tools when done properly. Here is everything brands need to know about executing this sales strategy successfully.
What Is a Flash Sale?
At its core, a flash sale is a time-limited sales event. Flash sales differ from normal event sales in two distinct ways: discounts are usually larger, and the length of the sale is shorter. Short time limits are key to the success of flash sales. As anyone who has shopped on Amazon Prime Day knows, the time-sensitive nature of flash sales encourage impulse buys. Promotion is another important driver. In order to drive anticipation, customers need to know of flash sales well in advance.
What Are the Benefits of a Flash Sale?
There are four reasons brands would run a flash sale:
Fear of missing out and a sense of urgency encourages impulse purchases. Flash sales that last for less than a day tend to be the most effective in this regard. As they explore deals, customers may also shop non-sale items.
Lower prices can attract more customers to a store. If the brand’s product exceeds the customers’ expectations, and the follow-up marketing is on point, that brand can build long-term relationships with people who arrived for the flash sale.
Better brand awareness
A well-orchestrated flash sale can catch headlines, particularly if the discounts are deep enough. They can also be shared on social media or via word of mouth. When a sale attracts many new customers, and when the deals are especially noteworthy, those customers are likely to spread the word on the brand’s behalf.
Reward loyal customers
Flash sales do not have to be open to the public at large. Instead, they can be limited to a specific audience as a way to reward VIP customers, employees or advocates of the brand.
Avoid Common Pitfalls
With flash sales, there are some common pitfalls brands must sidestep. These include:
- Devaluing the brand.
- Delivering a poor user experience.
- Attracting the wrong type of customer.
When a product is heavily discounted, customers might conclude that the product was not worth its original price tag. As such, offering flash sales too frequently can undercut a product’s positioning. In that scenario, the flash sales only attract bargain hunters, not would-be loyal customers.
Strengthen Your Back-End Infrastructure
Flash sales can become a victim of their own success. When a brand’s digital storefront is not optimized for the surge in traffic that a flash sale can bring, servers can crash and third-party app integrations can fail, effectively ruining the user experience for everyone, both bargain hunters and loyal customers alike. To avoid crashed sites and lost sales, brands must upgrade their back-end infrastructures. That could involve any of the following:
Improve Site Performance
Brands can start by upgrading their servers and increasing available bandwidth. Scalable servers are better able to handle spikes in traffic without crashing. Better yet, brands can decouple their storefronts and their back-end systems completely with headless commerce. That way, infrastructure issues do not affect the storefront’s user experience.
Create a Separate Site
Brands can also host their flash sales on a completely separate domain. This insulates the storefront from flash-sale activity and allows brands to maintain the positioning of their non-sale product lines.
Brands will need to scale their fulfillment infrastructures alongside their servers. Scalable fulfillment means more warehousing capacity, and it also might mean flexible contracts with multiple carriers to ensure timely shipment.
Prepare for Increased Returns
Keep reverse logistics in mind, too. A major downside of impulse purchases is the increased return rates that come with them. Having great quality products will help, but even the best DTC brands will need to shore up their returns infrastructure to quickly refund customers and get returned products back into inventory.