Holiday and clearance sales are one of the cornerstones of retail and ecommerce businesses. They have always been effective strategies to achieve sales spikes. Learning how to run a holiday sale online will be super beneficial to any online retailer.
It usually plays out as a win-win situation with retailers selling a lot more of their inventory and consumers walking away with the feeling that they got a pretty sweet deal. Everybody loves a good discount!
Running an ecommerce sale does come with its own set of challenges and bottlenecks. Such flash sales are essentially your operations on overdrive.
Here are our tips on how to run a holiday sale online, successfully.
Timing your sale
There are numerous occasions year-round to host a sale. It is extremely critical to be aware of which sale is most suited for your product. Ecommerce businesses can choose from Valentine’s Day, Labor Day, St.Patricks Day, Memorial Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day in the US.
Each country and culture have their own holidays or occasions to celebrate. It is especially important to pick the ones where gifting is a tradition.
Can your product be a gift to someone? Or does it make a great buy for one’s own self? Is it a seasonal item or can be used any time?
Before you even begin planning for the actual sale, these questions need to be well thought out. It might seem obvious, but this will help you better structure your online sale strategy and execution.
If you are running a clearance sale, then you need to know the product(s) that are making you the most money and the ones that are least profitable. Having an inventory management software that helps you track your inventory and sales is a good way to also understand which products to put on sale, and when.
Marketing your holiday sale
It is going to be important to have well-defined marketing strategies that you plan on deploying for your sale. These will differ if you were doing it on your own site vs. doing it on an external marketplace.
Social media is your best friend when it comes to marketing your holiday or clearance sale. Announce your dates in advance and build anticipation for your sale.
Create countdowns and share specific product pages and list the savings the customer will make on that during the sale. This will help in creating an air of eagerness and exclusivity, one which consumers will pounce upon when the sale goes live.
If you are hosting your sale on an external marketplace, make sure to partner with them on their marketing. Use the hashtags that they do, share and engage with their social posts. Reshare their posts with added links to your product page to get the ball rolling.
Do not forget your existing customers though! These are people who have already bought from you and the chances that they will do so again will be high. Email should be your go-to tool here.
Create fresh and segmented email lists to announce the sale to your previous buyers. If possible, offer them even more discounts to encourage them to participate in the sale. It is far cheaper to make an existing customer buy again than acquiring and convincing a new one.
Getting the marketing right is essential for running a holiday sale online successfully.
Preparing your website for the sale
A well-designed landing page for the sale plays a great role in seeing it achieve the success it deserves. It should have all the information about the sale and set clear expectations for the consumers on what will be on offer. Visual appeal goes a long way in building your brand appeal as well.
Highlight your best deals and have your catalogue reflect the details. Clearly indicate the sale prices of different products or the heavy discounts they will see.
Be ready to see a huge spike in your ecommerce site traffic. Plan in advance and ensure that your site can handle the additional load.
Checkout page and payment gateway crashes are quite common during an online sale so it is important to secure them first.
Page load speeds can be the difference between happy buyers and angry customers. Make sure you’ve stripped away the things adding weight to your site before the sale begins.
Running the actual holiday sale
Keep watching your traffic and order numbers right from the start of the sale. Make sure to monitor cart abandonments and average time spent on the product page by different consumers.
Check if the products you wanted to push during the sale are seeing the response you hoped for. If they aren’t, try tweaking the pricing and the messaging in real time to see purchase reactions.
The goal is to clear out your stock, so make sure it happens during the sale. Holding onto the stock for the next sale or season will harm your business in the long run.
Know the pitfalls and learn how to avoid them
While a holiday sale is a great way to clear out your existing stock and make good money on it, it can also be bad for business if not done right.
Avoid selling your products at the cheapest possible price. Know the value of the product to the consumer and what price will entice them.
Double check the product listings and make sure that they have all the necessary information in order. Maintain a consistent format. Buyers will not want to buy from listings that do not seem well written.
Run your sale only on a few specific days instead of over a whole season. You don’t want to face order-fulfillment issues, and cancellations from your end will not sit well with customers.
Properly track and manage your inventory during the sale. You will not be able to fulfill your orders without having a handle on that. Use an inventory management tool that will update the information on the go.
Planning the fulfillment phase of the sale
Being able to take the orders is one thing, but fulfilling them is a whole other ballgame. Your customer delight depends on how well you are able to do this. As such, order management then becomes key in delivering on your sale promises.
An order management software that seamlessly processes all your orders from multiple channels from a single dashboard is going to be crucial.
Your warehouse is where your inventory will be shipped out of and will be key in making your sale a success. You will need superior inventory control and smooth operations within your warehouse to execute a successful sale.
You will have to know how your stock is arranged within the warehouse, and tweak the layout or design if necessary. If you operate out of multiple warehouses, then it will be important to manage inventory at all the locations simultaneously.
It is never advisable to host a sale on multiple platforms. This will derail your inventory and warehouse operations due to the sudden influx from multiple order sources.
Without a great warehouse management software, your sale cannot handle the additional load on your supply chain.
Review your sale once completed
Now that your sale has ended and you’ve even fulfilled your orders, it’s a good time to look at what the data actually says.
Do a post-sale analysis to figure out things such as…
- Which products sold the most
- Which brought in more money
- What other factors led to increase in orders, outside of the discounted price
- How many returns were initiated, if any
- Were there any cracks in the system that need to be addressed
- How many customers registered valid complaints or issues
- Were there any unexpected findings
Trying to find the answers to these questions and more will help you understand the real success of your sale. Not only that, this will help you better prepare for your next sale and run it even smoother. It is always important to look at this data and incorporate its results in future business operations.
Things to do after your holiday sale
At the end of the day, holiday and clearance sales are meant to get your customers in the door. The next vital steps would be to ensure they stay there.
Building a great customer experience and delight program will be key in sustaining your ecommerce business. This will be the key to make them come back and buy from you even when you don’t have a sale going on.
Hope these tips on how to run an ecommerce sale online have given you some great ideas for your next big sale!
Sharan is an avid writer with experience writing on different technologies for startups in various domains. He’s a self-professed tech nerd and start-up buff who likes keeping abreast with all the latest news in these areas.