Flash Sales: Do They Hold Value for Online Business?


A temporary Flash sale website or web page can bring more business, more people and more sales.

Flash sale definition: It’s a temporary sale of a valued product at a terrific discount. Everyone loves em – and for websites, it means increased traffic, better contacts and more sales.

It was a shock. But by 2013-2014 many of the larger department stores like J.C. Penney and Sears had stopped having the instant flash sales, instead they offered the new “every day low prices”. It seemed a good idea. Except that sales dropped substantially.


These companies eventually found out that they made more money when they raised the prices and then lowered them at certain times of the year and called it a special deal.


This example may seem strange but it makes sense for people. We gotta face facts. People love a GREAT DEAL:

The rush of finding that deal entices people to make more purchases because the offer will be gone and soon. And in the world of the INTERNET SALE the psychology of the special sale extends to the online world.

What Is The Flash Sale?

Flash sale definition: A  promotion or discount offered on select merchandise for a limited time only. This evokes the thrill of ‘getting a deal’ for the customer that is buying on impulse. Some companies use this tactic to unload extra stock while others use it as their primary business model. Either way, they can be very effective in growing your business and increasing awareness of your brand, this applies to both brick and mortar locations as well and e-commerce sites. However, it needs to be done strategically.


The key things to keep in mind for any flash sale are who is the target audience, available inventory, the right price, and thoughtful marketing and promotion.


How to Run a Flash Sale Website

1. Set a Goal

In order to be successful, you need to determine your goals, as flash sales can help you accomplish a number of different things. With a concrete goal you can better measure your success. Is the purpose to increase traffic to your site and raise brand awareness? Perhaps you need to off a discount of a quality product or service. Do you have an excess of a specific product or size that isn’t selling? Maybe it’s time to discount just that product. Is your inventory unbalanced? Then it’s time to motivate buyers to focus on different products that they might be interested in. With a clear focus you can better pick the right products and monitor the results of your flash sale.

2. Choose the Right Product

You can’t choose just ANY product. It needs to be the right one and targeted to the right people. Who is your client and what types of things are of interest to them? You need to choose the product that your long-term customers are interested in to build your base with the right target audience. Focus on the timing of your sale. Different target markets will spend money at different times of the year. Back to school sale? Christmas splurge? Make sure your sale is relevant to your customer. Is the discount enough in comparison to what can be found elsewhere? Make sure your discount stands out from others.


3. Advertising and Promotion

Last minute flash sale web pages can but fun, but you will have a much better turn out if your clients have prior knowledge of the event. It allows them to prepare, check your stock and builds anticipation. People like to research products ahead of time, compare prices, and check reviews. Sending out information prior to the flash sale going live allows your customer to do this. It also allows them to send it to friends and broaden your reach. Promote your flash sale using marketing, email, social media, and SEO phrases. Have a fun countdown to the sale to further build anticipation.

4. Word Choice

Consider carefully what you want to say so that your flash sale or online discount stands out from the rest. If the total dollars saved is minimal ($5 on a $100 purchase), think about advertising using percentages or other phrases to emphasize the discount. There are also two methods to take, one promoting a gain and the other avoiding a loss. ‘Get $$ off!!´ focuses on the gain, and ‘Save money $$’ focuses on avoiding a loss. In general, people are more motivated by avoiding pain and hence a missing out on a good deal could be equated to pain. Keep your statements simple. If there are too many restrictions or rules on the discount then it becomes less appealing to the customer. They don’t want to have to just through hoops just to get a deal.

5. Short Time Frame

Once you have decided when to offer the sale, keep the time period short, this will promote urgency. The reason most flash sales work is because it inspires impulse purchases. Most sales don’t exceed 24 hours. Less time to think and process, just to buy.

6. Inventory

Before offering a product on special be sure to check that you have enough of the item in stock prior to the flash sale. If you don’t have enough for what is ordered you will begin to run into delays and unhappy customers. If you sell out early this could leave people with a negative brand experience. Use a logistics company to plan how much will be needed ahead of time.

7. Shipping and Delivery

You won’t retain customers if it takes months for their flash sale product to arrive. In the world of e-commerce same day or next day shipping is expected, so you need to prepare ahead of time. Be sure your company is ready for a mass shipping experience so as to create a flawless customer experience from start to finish. Finally, make sure your terms of service are clear and up front. That way there are no unexpected surprises.

Examples of Successful Flash Sales

1. Old Navy

This flash sale works because of its mystery component. The different colors and flash image (confetti) provokes the customer to click the call-to-action button at the bottom to find out how much of a deal they are going to receive. Once they see how much they have ‘won’ they are more motivated to shop through the stock to see how to apply their discount.

flash sale website

2. J. Crew

This flash sale works because J. Crew ties it into a very specific, niche audience: people who sail. If you’re into sailing, this flash sale will incentivize you to check out J. Crew’s discount sailing clothes. It’s a smaller audience, but it’s also more likely to be an engaged one.

flash sale website

3. Spotify

The tactic of Spotify here is two-fold. They are targeting a specific Spanish speaking audience, as well creating a sense of urgency. The time limit of 24 hours left to sign up for two free months free motivates customers to temporarily upgrade right now. The bright colours and multiple watches assist in conveying this message.

flash sale website

4. Pottery Barn

This flash sale uses the wording “select dressers,” to increase the desire to click to find out which dressers Pottery Barn means (What if I happen to love one of the discount dressers? I should check, just in case). It also shows an adorable boy sitting on a dresser, inspiring the viewer to imagine their own child using this dresser.

5. MAC Cosmetics

This particular ad was targeted at their Canadian demographic. It promotes a sense of urgency that the flash sale will only be offered for only day. Perhaps the most important aspect of this flash sale is that it offers a discount on a brand that nearly NEVER has sales. Allowing the customer to feel like they are truly getting a deal.

Let’s Get It!

Okay. So the point to this is to say that a flash sale website or landing page can benefit a business in more than one way. It helps create awareness, bring in more buying customers and helps sell. But it can only bring these positive aspects if you do it right, if you plan ahead, spend some time and money on advertising and promoting your sale both online and off. It is as simple as that.

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