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Although it will be hard to believe for anyone who saw the queues outside many Mark & Spencers yesterday morning all looking to buy merchandise for a penny, the retail landscape is feeling the effect of a decline in sales. This is not just exclusive to the high street either and despite record profits for ASOS last month the recession is hitting those in the cyber space with just as much force.
So, what can you do to beat this trend I hear you cry.
Well it’s the web! There are always new and exciting ways to promote your company and products. One of the new ways to attract lots of business and sales in a short period of time is through bringing the offline phonemenon usually likened to top and up-and-coming designers to your ecommerce site - the flash sale.
What’s a Flash Sale?
Flash sales are when you hold a sale over a very short period of time - hence the name. For an online company it would not be advisable to hold one for more than one hour. The discounts you offer would have to be enough to attract visitors for this ‘once in a lifetime’ chance to purchase from you for the best price possible.
The benefits are that you are putting a sense of urgency into the buying cycle through putting a time restriction on the sale. This will have an impact on those consumers who go away and think about a purchase before returning, or worse, forgetting.
In simple terms, however, it’s like a normal sale but in a shorter time frame and it helps you drive sales in quiet times and/or sell off older stock.
It is also good for brand loyalty as you're giving something back to your customers. This type of loyalty can even help attract new visitors to your site.
It’s as easy to do as, say, flashing.
Through picking a time, date and promoting the sale you could be flashing in no time.
This is also a good way to utilise social media marketing practices such as Twitter, Facebook, using related forums and even writing a blog on your own site to promote your impending flash sale. But don’t do it too far in advance as a rule of thumb try and keep to the mantra of the flash by keeping it spontaneous - do not do it much more than 24 hours in advance. An email campaign going out to all existing customers will also help spread the word.
Isn’t flashing a risky business?
Not every one has the CMS system in place to hold a sale within a very short time frame or a site that can handle a high volume of traffic / sales at the same time. So you do run the risk of crashing your site.
Other concerns are selling stock at highly reduced prices and thus not making enough to maintain profit. But remember, you're in control of what you sell and how much you charge! Just make sure it’s at a significant reduction that is clear to all users - and remember at the end of the day it’s just a sale!
So go on, expose yourself and get selling!