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What Customers Want from Your Flash Sale

When done right, a flash sale can deliver big benefits for both eCommerce brands and customers. There are creative ways brands can cater to consumers with their flash sales.

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For eCommerce brands looking to dramatically boost sales and offer an exciting customer experience, few things beat a flash sale. Today’s online customers are always looking for great deals, and flash sales give them exactly what they want. To sweeten the pot, flash sales offer retailers an opportunity to clear out merchandise, increase short-term sales, boost brand awareness and deepen customer loyalty.

During the pandemic, flash sales became a reliable way for brands to drum up excitement and generate sales. Overall, flash sales generate a 35% boost in transaction rates. Other fun facts about flash sales include:

  • 74% of businesses see higher click-to-open rates from flash sale emails.
  • Flash sales increase transaction rates for 67% of businesses.
  • Customers spend an average of 385% more on flash sales.

When done right, a flash sale can deliver big benefits for both eCommerce brands and customers. But when flash sales go wrong, which they sometimes do, they can cause a brand more harm than good. As customer expectations put more demands on online brands to deliver, a flash sale crash can be disastrous.

Let us look at all things flash sale and how brands can give customers exactly what they want and more.

What Is a Flash Sale?

A flash sale is a limited-time discount or promotion where eCommerce stores offer highly competitive prices for select products. The name speaks for itself: a “get ‘em while they last” sale that’s here and then gone in a flash. Typically, flash sales last for 24 to 72 hours or less and are generally announced through email or on social media. Flash sales are designed to tap into customer FOMO, thereby creating a sense of urgency that entices shoppers to impulse buy.

Flash Sale Benefits

The benefits of flash sales are the reason why they’re so popular. Here are some of the perks a well-run flash sale can bring to eCommerce brands of all sizes.

Increased Sales

The limited-time duration of a flash sale prompts customers to buy fast and buy more to take advantage of the great deals. This generates higher sales in a short amount of time, which a brand can use to scale and grow. Flash sales can also help brands generate profits during the slower times of year. While flash sales can reduce the profit margin of each item sold, the overall impact can make up for that.

Clear Out Excess Inventory

Flash sales are perfect for any eCommerce brand that wants to quickly move excess inventory and out-of-season items. By offering the biggest discounts on these surplus products, online stores can ensure they sell out quickly so they can make room for new items. Brands then have a reason to tell customers of all of the new and exciting products in their store.

Attract New Customers

Good flash sales can bring in new customers by giving them an opportunity to try products out at low stakes. Provide a pleasant and exciting customer experience and these new customers might just become loyal customers who continually come back for more.

Build Brand Awareness

Flash sales can increase brand awareness through increased online advertising visibility. They also offer new shoppers an affordable way to try a brand’s products.  This type of awareness can go a long way in getting a brand’s name in front of many more people than usual. This way, brands can stay front-of-mind with consumers who will hopefully return to an online store when they need products that brand sells.

Increase Brand Loyalty

When eCommerce brands offer deals and discounts at regular intervals, loyal customers feel loved and appreciated. When customers feel like they are being taken care of, they’re more likely to make purchases in the future. Even better, they will probably tell their friends about their positive customer experience.

Generate Leads and Increase ROI

New customers who took part in past flash sale events most likely filled out an email form. Brands can then reach into their address books to create targeted email marketing campaigns to reach them for future events. Since email is most customers’ preferred method of contact, this strategy generates more than double the ROI of social media ads.

How To Meet Flash Sale Customer Expectations

eCommerce brands that conduct flash sales should always have the customer experience in mind. While they can be a one and done promotion, flash sales are still a great way to build customer loyalty and trust. But even the most loyal flash sale customer’s patience can be tested when brands fail to deliver on customer expectations.

Beyond great products at discounted prices, customers have many expectations about what happens during and after the flash sale. Here are six ways brands can avoid flash sale failures and deliver an excellent customer experience.

Offer Free and Fast Shipping

Offering free shipping is a great way for brands to stand out from the competition. It can also increase the average order value (AOV) and boost sales. In fact, 48% of consumers are willing to add additional items to their carts to qualify for free shipping. Since 66% of consumers now expect free shipping on online orders, giving them what they want just makes sense.

Brands must also deliver items fast. 91% of consumers expect to receive an online order within three business days. 9% expect it the same day. To fulfill these stringent customer expectations, fast shipping of flash sale items is of utmost importance.

Have 24/7 Customer Service

During and after a flash sale, eCommerce businesses must be prepared to handle a sudden influx of customer questions or concerns. A well-trained staff that can answer questions in a friendly and knowledgeable manner 24/7 will help boost customer satisfaction. The goal is to create a consistent customer experience, even if your team is assisting a higher number of customers than usual. Being able to offer customer service from any device (think chatbots) will also improve the overall customer experience.

Make Sure the Inventory Is There

Few things can harm a brand’s reputation than to build excitement and demand just to tell customers products are not available. Not having enough inventory to satisfy expected demand can also negatively impact future sales and customer retention. Unfortunately, more than 45% of flash sale products sell out faster than anticipated. To prevent this, brands need to do a thorough job in researching demand and preparing their supply chain accordingly. Real-time tracking of inventory will also provide visibility to accurately determine the amount of inventory needed for the sale.

Follow Up with Customers

After new shoppers participate in your flash sale, it’s important to follow up with them. This will give shoppers the impression that you value their patronage and appreciate their business. Sending a post-purchase email asking shoppers to write a review and post it on social media is a good start. Brands can also offer customers additional deals on their next purchase or direct them to new products that might be of interest to them. Making the extra effort will build brand trust, boost customer retention, and add dynamics to the overall customer experience.

Avoid Flash Sale Overkill

When it comes to flash sales, too much of a good thing is not necessarily the best thing, even for bargain-hungry consumers. Running flash sales on a consistent basis negates the excitement factor, turning “oh boy!” to “ho hum.” Customers annoyed with the volume of emails announcing yet another flash sale will most likely tune them out. And if customers are enthused about a brand’s flash sale, what’s the point? To avoid flash sale burnout, brands need to be mindful of how often they run a sale. When an eCommerce brand starts seeing diminishing returns of their latest flash sale, it may be time to cut back.

Perform Due Diligence to Avoid Site Crashes Fail

Website crashes in the middle of a flash sale can be absolutely disastrous for a brand. Customers who are stopped dead in their tracks are not likely to return to a brand’s website, perhaps forever. Unfortunately, flash sales crashes are common, even for large brands. To avoid nightmare eCommerce flash sale crash scenarios, website load testing is a must. This includes the entire eCommerce platform and any apps or third-party tools that depend on 7. Having the right amount of service capacity to handle a surge in traffic is also important. Performing extra legwork before launching a flash sale will pay off in dividends once the customers come calling.

Flash Sales Can Deliver Big Bang for the Marketing Buck

Flash sales can be an extremely dynamic marketing tool, offering a win-win situation for both retailers and consumers. A well-managed flash sale generates an almost unparalleled level of excitement, prompting customers to buy rather than just browse. They also give brands a perfect opportunity to attract new customers, generate sales and leads and unload inventory. 


Special sales events like flash sales are just one of the eCommerce areas of expertise Scalefast has become known for. Want to learn more about how to build a successful flash sale? Download our whitepaper, The Dos and Don’ts of Flash Sales: Best Practices for Planning and Executing Flash Sales or talk to an eCommerce expert.

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