How to pull off a successful sale (that actually sells!)

There are many reasons you might want to have a sale.

Maybe you have some excess inventory you need to move. Maybe you want to promote a new product. Or maybe you’re just trying to build out your customer base.

Either way, you need to do it right, otherwise you’re just cutting into your margins.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at the 5 steps you need to take to pull off a successful sale.

1. Ask yourself, “Why am I having this sale?”

Determine what you want to get out of this sale. Are you trying to get rid of product that’s been collecting dust on the shelves? Build brand awareness?

If you’re trying to clear out space for the holidays, maybe you’re willing to offload your items at near cost, just to spare you the need of finding more storage space.

If you’re building your brand, then you’re going to want to highlight your flagship product, or one that shows off your sensibility. If you have smaller products that are on-brand, such as coasters, consider including those if a customer hits a certain monetary limit.

2. Choose your deal

Next up, you need to determine how much of a discount you’re going to give your customers.

Some popular options include:

  • A storewide discount (“Take 10% off all items!”)
  • BOGO: buy one, get one free
  • Free shipping after a price limit (“Free shipping on orders over $50!”)
  • A discount on clearance items only (“Take 25% off sale items!”)
  • A flat coupon (“Take $20 off orders over $100”)

Note that certain deal types are better for achieving certain sales goals.

If you want to expose people to as many of your products as possible, you’d want to encourage spending by offering a flat coupon after customers hit a price point.

If you’re clearing out stock, go for the clearance-only option.

Whatever you do, remember to keep it simple. Nothing is more aggravating to customers than being told there’s a sale, spending time finding an item they think is on sale, and then being told, actually, no.

3. Choose your time frame

One of the keys to a sale is the concept of scarcity. A sale is valuable to customers because they’re not around forever, and prices aren’t always this low.

In other words, timing is a core part of a sale, so think about who you’re targeting. Are your customers international? Are they domestic?

Either way, you’re going to want to time it to be most convenient for them. According to Shoptab, the best time to run a sale is weekday evenings. People have free time, but don’t necessarily make plans that keep them away from their computers, as they might do on weekends.

Second, consider having a flash sale to create urgency and generate more sales. According to Experian, flash sales increase transactions by 35% compared to simply emailing customers about a product.

Further, three hours may be the best length for a sale. Sales of those lengths have the best transaction rates, as well as the highest click-to-conversion rate of those surveyed.

4. Promote, then promote some more

If a sale happens in the woods and no one sees it, is anything actually discounted?

Uh, is that how the expression goes?

Anyway, the point is, you obviously need people to know about your sale for it to be effective.  Shoptab suggests running your promotion at least 7 days before your sale begins. Further, you should post at least three to four times on your social media accounts, letting your followers know about the sale.

You’re also going to want to send a newsletter announcing the sale, and set up a modal window on your website for anyone visiting before the sale runs, the way Levi’s does:

5. Make sure your customer service is on its A-game

When your sale is live, especially if you’re having a flash sale, customers will likely have questions about your products. That’s why it’s super important to have more support staff than usual available.

Because a sale will typically drive more traffic to your store, you’re going to want to leave people with a positive perception of your company, which isn’t possible if your customer service is sluggish.

Wrapping up

Hosting a sale is exciting! They bring in new customers, keep repeat customers happy, increase brand awareness, and move excess inventory. (Sometimes all at once!)

If this is your first sale, keep track of what worked and what didn’t, especially as the busy holiday season is now just a few months away!