How to run a successful sale on Ecwid

Running a sale is an indispensable part of any retail business strategy, online included. Customers love sales and you should too! They are a great way to maximize profit in a short period of time, move products that are taking up inventory space, or give a new item a deserving introduction.

At first glance, running a sale might seem like a piece of cake. But a successful sale requires careful preparation to ensure a healthy return on investment.

First, you’ll want to decide on a primary goal for your sale: is it to gain new customers, clear low performing inventory, or increase revenue? Once you decide, you’ll want to start working on a strategy to meet your goal, and determine what needs to be done to your store to prep for it.

Let’s cut to the chase. In this guide you’ll learn how to:

Choose a sale strategy
Decide what to sell
Set discount prices and surprise customers
Optimize your store’s look
Drive more online traffic
Ship and wrap like a pro

Choose your sale strategy

In this article you’ll find tools and strategies that you can apply to a variety of sales. First we’ll discuss the different types of sales you can run on your site. This will inform the tools that will work best to make your sale a success.

Sales are typically coordinated with local holidays from Valentines day and St Patrick's Day to Father’s Day, Halloween, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas. But that doesn’t mean you need a special date to move products out of your inventory or introduce customers to a new product line.

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The Steve Poltz shop informs customers about their sale on the front page

Depending on your goals, you can go with a targeted % or $, off or go wild with a doorbuster sale. Here’s a breakdown of some popular options:

  • Traditional sale — a good ol’ sale that is usually seasonally timed. It can be a storewide price drop or just for selected products. You can use this method to acquire new customers with (the proper targeting!), or increase customer loyalty since shoppers often expect discounts and special offers during around the holidays.
  • Flash sale — a limited time sale offering higher discounts. This one is a little more aggressive than a traditional sale, but it’s useful for trying to clear out old or underperforming inventory. If you play your cards right, it can even be a doorbuster sale. Read our blog to learn more about the flash sale.
  • BOGO-F — Buy One Get One (Free) is a proven sales tactic. It’s especially good at presenting new products and winning over new customers with “free” ones (which are not exactly free, but hey, who does math, right?) There are several variations for this tactic, so you can choose the one that best fits your business needs.

Now that we’ve covered the basic types of sales you can run, let's take a look at some simple rules to work with, regardless of your chosen sale style.

What to serve up to get a sale?

As Boromir famously said at the council of Elrond, “one does not just simply slash prices.” At least we think that’s what he said. Regardless, you want to have a strategy when you’re cutting prices. Not all products are price-sensitive, and low cost items won’t benefit from an even lower price (and lower profit margin for you). Unique products are another no-go: they are likely valuable enough to make customers less likely to quibble over a couple of dollars.

Deciding what to put on sale

So what products are strong candidates for a sale? Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Outdated Products. For example, if you sell apparel, you may want to use a sale to clear items out that are no longer in fashion/on trend.
  • Products that have been in stock for too long. Depending on your business model, you may have purchased too much of one product, or happen to have some items in your inventory that are overstocked and underperforming. A sale/discount is a great way to get these items off your books and bring in new and better performing merchandise.
  • Seasonal items. Sometimes it’s a good tactic to offer items related to an upcoming holiday, even if it’s not related to your business. For example, offer home decoration stuff during Christmas — no matter what you sell.

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The Azerbaijan in a Box Shop sells tea and tea sets. They offer Christmas decorations during the winter season. They sold out in early December!

💡Consider diversifying your product lineup with items that have seen the biggest jumps during the pandemic. Comforting and home-related goods might be well-received by shoppers these days.

You can even add items that are not currently in your stock. How? With dropshipping.

Dropshipping is fast becoming a popular solution. Simply put, it’s when a third-party company (usually, a manufacturer, wholesaler, or a fulfillment company) takes care of producing, storing, packing and shipping products to buyers. All you have to do is market and sell their products as if they were your own.

With Ecwid you can:

Complimenting your store with the gift ideas

During the holiday season, shoppers are often buying for others. Taking this into consideration can ensure that your store features products that align with current trends.

Pro-tip: you can offer one of your items as a gift idea, or add new products for special occasions. Here’s a few suggestions for things that work well here:

  • Your best-selling products.
  • Holiday-related items like teddy bears for Valentine’s Day or candles or calendars around Christmas.
  • Gift cards. Sometimes picking the right gift can be a challenge. Make your customer’s decision easy by setting up gift card capabilities in your store.

📖 Check out our blog to learn more about:

Upselling with related products

Think about the last time you purchased a piece of clothing online. When you went to your shopping cart, did the website recommend some socks for the shoes you added? How about a pair of pants being recommended with the shirt you just decided to add? There’s a reason that online stores do this. They’re savvy retailers attempting to increase their average order value by showing shoppers some related products.

Here are our best bets for suggesting related products at checkout:

  • Care products. Show off your shoe polish or when a customer picks up a pair of shoes.
  • Other items from one product line. Show off the other books from the series of novels your customer loves, or a book in the same genre or by the same author.
  • Expendable materials. Paper and ink are the perfect pals for that printer they just added.
  • The full set. Suggest a teapot, milk jug or sugar bowl as related to tea or ceramic mugs.

To make sure that your customers don’t pass up these add-ons, upload eye-catching photos to grab their attention and get them excited about adding to their order.

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Here’s how the YR3D shop encourages their customers to browse through the website for more related items. And look, they even included a video in their product description! 😍

📖 Showing related products can lead to impulse buys, which will help ensure the success of a flash sale. Learn more about how flash sales boost profit and how they can work for your business.

Don’t run out of stock

When you’re running a sale, it’s important that your shoppers have the opportunity to actually benefit from the discounted merchandise. Unless you are attempting to clear out old stock, you’ll want to make sure you don’t run out of inventory.

Contact suppliers in advance (if you rely on them) in regards to inventory. Be absolutely sure to check shipping and packaging supplies as well. We recommend using our partner Arka for all your shipping and packaging needs (and some cool eco-friendly and branded options to boot!).

The best way to avoid running out of stock is to turn on email notifications about product stock — when a product quantity gets low in your online store, you’ll get an email alert and be able to restock in time.

Make customers happy with discounts

Now that you’ve decided on some different discount strategies, it’s time for the main event: how to implement these discounts in your store.

Add sale prices to certain items

The easiest and most important step to get your store ready for a sale is to set your sale prices. In your Ecwid store, setting a sale price is just a few clicks away. Simply go to Catalog → Products and set up “Compare to” prices for each item you want. Still confused? Check out our step-by-step instruction guide on how to set Compare to price in your Ecwid store.

Items with discounts will automatically have a bright label to grab attention of customers. To draw further attention to the discount, the ribbon will show the old price crossed out and the customer’s savings — which sends a crystal clear message of “I’m on a sale, buy me.”

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Put a category on sale

Rather than lowering the price for each item, you might decide to put a particular category on sale. Let’s say you sell clothes and it’s the winter season. Scarfs and mittens literally sell themselves, but tank tops and short skirts sit endlessly in your store’s inventory. Why note try putting some summer clothes on sale? This approach can also save you a great deal of time, as you can set one discount instead of having to apply the discount to one item at a time.

There are a couple of different ways to apply discounts for a group of products in Ecwid. Here’s a quick low-down:

  1. Update prices in bulk
    The easiest way is to update prices with the Bulk Product Editor app. Here’s some step-by-step instructions about how to add sale prices in bulk. But basically, just type the name of your category in the Filter field (in the app) and it will automatically select all the products in that category. Then just update the price the way you want it and it's done.
  2. Use coupons
    Another way to put a category on sale is to offer you customers a discount coupon for a specific category. The beauty of this method is that you can announce the “secret code” for a discount through your social media channels, and use it to bring more online traffic to your store.

But how do you create a discount coupon for a category? In just a few clicks!

  1. Go to Discount Coupons in your Ecwid admin.
  2. Click + Add new coupon and set its name, code, discount, time of life and click Save.
  3. It will appear in the list. Click the limits link and find the Limit by category. Click it to choose the category, where the coupon should be applied and Apply changes.

That’s it! Now all you have to do is tell your customers about the discount.

Run a cross-wide store sale

The fastest way to launch a store-wide sale with a percentage discount is to set up automatic discounts for all orders over $1, so that the discount applies to all customer orders at the same time.

On the whole, automatic discounts can be based on:

  • Subtotal. You can offer a 5% discount on all items for all orders over $60. Or offer 10% off every order above $100 to encourage customers to buy even more to hit the threshold.
  • Customer groups. Offer a $10 discount on order items to all new customers and $20 off to a special group of segmented customers.
  • Customer groups and subtotal. You can be more specific and add 10% off to any new customer who’s willing to spend over $40 in your store. Or you can offer 20% off to your regulars for an order that exceeds $200. 

If you’re planning to run a global sale and offer different sale prices on different items, you can import sale prices to your store from a CSV file (you can edit it in a spreadsheet). Or you can update all your prices in bulk using the Bulk Product Editor app. This app allows you to change the price or any variable option for your products in a few minutes. The frosting on the cake is that all items with sale prices will automatically show the calculated savings and feature those eye-catching product ribbons to attract customers.

Set up the discount you want and inform your customers about it with a banner or a pop-up to encourage them to buy more.

📖 Learn more about how to set up automatic discounts with our quick and simple video.

Offer discount coupons for different needs

Setting up sale prices and customizing them is easy. But how do you go about creating more personalized discounts? Here are some examples for segmented discount groups:

  • Long-time customers — thank-you coupons can strengthen their loyalty.
  • Customers who abandoned their carts — discounts or special terms like free shipping can return 10% to 20% of customers who abandoned their cart on your site. Remember, 20% is better than 0%!
  • First-time shoppers — offer them free shipping or a first-time buyer discount coupon. They’ll be flattered by the extra attention.
  • Early birds — try out an early access discount for a new product or service. For example — for the new virtual cooking course that you are about to launch.
  • Visitors who are leaving without purchasing — try to change their mind with an exit intent popup that offers a unique promo code.

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Wear the peace shop offers a discount to customers who are going to leave the store

We’re sure you can think of some other types of customer segments that gel with your brand and your business plan. But no matter the type, you can create your own coupons in your Ecwid admin.

Offer a gift for a purchase

Offering customers a gift or a discounted item with their purchase is one of the staple tactics of the BOGO(F) — Buy One Get One (Free) type of a sale. This sale type can entice customers to place an order, because who doesn’t like free products?

With Ecwid, you can use the Buy One Get One Free: Sales Promotions app to stimulate sales — offering your customers three for the price of two, the second item for free or other types of BOGO offers.

To maximize the effect you can couple that with a widget to create a popup that informs your store visitors about a special offer during Christmas of Black Friday or any other Holiday.

📖 The free gift with purchase is what we call a “loss leader.” You may lose some money on the short end, but giving out small gifts builds loyalty with the customers helps to ensure repeat business. To learn more about earning customer loyalty, read about:

Design Your Store For Success

When you run a sale, you’ll likely see an increase in new visitors (assuming your social media and ad campaign was successful — more on that later). It’s important that your shop is set up to take advantage of both the sale and the new visitors. This means ensuring that the second your new visitors see your site, they know A: that a sale is going on and B: what the sale is for. You may be asking yourself “why is this important?” But research shows that it only takes 50 milliseconds to decide whether we stay on the website or leave.

Match your store design to your Holiday spirit

Doesn’t matter if it’s Halloween or Christmas: make your storefront match the holiday mood!

Even a small change in the visual language of your website can have a big impact on visitors. For your Ecwid Instant Site, changing background cover is a great first step. You can also change your logo, favicon, or both.

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Show store visitors your Christmas spirit

You can also add welcome texts or a storefront banner to greet your customers or announce seasonal price changes:

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Are you feeling confident enough to go a little deeper? You can update the colors of your store. For example — red and green or blue and white are a perfect fit for the winter/holiday season. You can also use a fancy font for buttons or storefront cover in your Ecwid store and Instant site for an added dash of festivity.

If your website is located on a site-builder you'll need to edit the design through that third-party platform. Check out our advice on customizing the design of your store with these major site builders:

In case you need a completely custom design, we can provide in-depth customization of the storefront made according to your specs. Order a custom design from our experts.

Use design elements to feature your best inventory

Make particular products more eye-catching by showing them off right when a customer lands at your store. To do so, add them to the Featured Products section. Pick top selling items, hot deals, home comfort products or new arrivals to show off.

Highlight discounted items with ribbons to catch your visitor’s eye and choose a striking image your customers can’t resist clicking on:

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Optimize your site for mobile

No matter how cool your storefront looks on the big screen, you’ll lose out if it’s not equally appealing on mobile devices. When we say lose out, we mean it — recent mobile usage has grown up to 3 hours and 15 minutes per day. Almost 70% of digital media time is spent on mobile devices, not on a PC.

Make the most of your online shop by offering solutions to mobile users. Usually that’s all about design — clear, simple and intuitive design features. Your design should make it so that when a user sees your site, they know exactly what to do. Even though the Ecwid store front is adaptive, you will want to ensure that the website where you’ve added your Ecwid store is mobile-friendly too, so everything is easy to reach with a thumb while holding a phone. If your website isn’t looking right on the small screen, you can use your Ecwid Instant site. Instant site was designed to fit any-size screen, which means it’s easy to shop your store on mobile as it is anywhere else.

You can also complement your Ecwid shop with its own mobile app. Your customers can install this ShopApp on their smart device and gain instant access to your inventory in their pockets. This means they can order from your store on the go, at any time, anywhere.

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Here’s how your ShopApp may look on your buyer’s phone

Drive more online traffic

You have built your banners, implemented your discounts/coupons etc. Now it's time to spread the word. Your potential customers need to know your site exists, what you sell, and that you are even having a sale in the first place.

Getting traffic on your website is based around three foundational strategies:

  • advertising
  • social media
  • direct email marketing

It’s wise to start an ad or email campaign at least a week before your sale. That way you’ll have enough time to let your customers know about the event and drive them to your online store (and maybe collect their emails for future offers).

Run Ads

Investing in ads before the big sales season can pay off big time during the holidays. Make the most of your advertising budget by choosing the right place to promote your business. Here’s a smattering of suggestions:

  • Google Shopping — what do you do if you want to know the answer to anything, from best kid’s playroom furniture to can turkeys fly? That’s right, you ask Google. We even turn to this search giant when we want to buy something. So consider running an ad through Google Shopping. With Ecwid, we make this option really simple: you can run a hands-free promotion of your products with Google Shopping ads.
  • Facebook — with an audience of 2.7 billion monthly active users, Facebook is one of the most important channels for small and medium-sized businesses to market and advertise their products and services. It’s flexible, easy to use and features affordable ad options for any budget. Learn how to run ads campaign on Facebook.
  • Instagram — nearly 60% of Instagram users log in daily and spend an average of half an hour on the platform. This makes Instagram perfect for running visually focused campaigns. Let us give you the lowdown on how to run an effective ads campaign in Instagram.
  • Pinterest — not an obvious one, right? But with a can-do attitude you can drive more people to your website from your Pinterest page. You can score customers on Pinterest with retargeting ads and improved performance insights. Learn more about how to run more effective ads with Pinterest tag for your Ecwid store.

Buzz in your social media

Social media is a great way to showcase your products, show off your small-business craftsmanship, or maybe just share some cool memes. It can also be a strong tool for promoting an upcoming sale. Use it to:

  • inform your customers about upcoming sales
  • run a contest to drive more audience to your online store
  • sell across multiple platforms with one Ecwid account
  • share stories about what you do best. Example: how to beautifully wrap gifts. Don’t shy away from showing backstage of shooting photos for Instagram or preparing orders. People love to learn more about the small business owners they buy from.

💡Consider making small changes to your profile during the holidays. For example, upload a picture with a festive mood as an avatar on Instagram or as a profile cover in your Facebook shop.

And don’t forget to share your social media links on your storefront, so that your site visitors can follow you on social networks and learn about upcoming sales.

If your store has an Instagram, learn more about how to promote on Instagram and get organic engagement without spending a cent. Combine free contests with post promotion and paid engagement to get instant visibility and targeted traffic.

Combine different ways to communicate with your followers to create a compelling sales-driven account, like Indaba shop do with their Instagram:

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📖 To really boost your social media appearance, read this detailed article about social media and how to use it as a business tool.

Send out those emails

Email marketing ramps up in all its glory right before big sales like Black Friday, when people are actually craving promotional emails as they create their own Holiday shopping plan.

That makes it the perfect time to start ‘warming up’ your clients with an announcement of any upcoming discounts or special offers.

Tell them all about any upcoming discounts or special offers, or stick with a straightforward strategy and send the announcement email on the first day of the sale. Either way, be smart about personalizing offers to appeal to different audiences:

  • Reward your favourite customers with discount coupons, VIP-only-deals, or early access to new products.
  • Remind people who abandoned their carts about newly added products. You can enhance your email’s efficiency by adding a discount coupon to it. The more you offer them for returning to your site, the higher your chances are for a purchase.
  • Grow your audience with holiday shoppers by reminding inactive customers about their last purchase. You might want to include a special offer for them like free shipping or a percentage discount. Offering specific benefits is one of the best ways to drive visitors to your online shop.

You can set up automated email notifications in your Ecwid admin or keep in touch with your customers with the help of Mailchimp.

📖 Take a closer look at email marketing in related articles:

Make shipping your secret weapon

Making mounds of cash is, no doubt, a dream come true when running a sale. But keep the bigger picture in mind: it’s not the one-time event that matters in the long-run, but turning one-time customers into loyal brand-lovers (aka Return Customers). To achieve this, pull some attention towards creating an enjoyable customer experience. One of our favorite focal points? The shipping and receiving of their purchase.

Ship free

Offering free shipping is the #1 way to entice on-the-fence customers. Research says that 84% of online customers are more likely to shop with brands that offer free shipping. So, providing free shipping has the potential to skyrocket your sales.

Don’t rush to set up free shipping before you make some cold-hearted calculations. Your goal is to maintain balance between shipping costs and income, not entice customers at the expense of your profitability.

If you decide to move forward on free shipping, there are several ways you can strategize without breaking the bank. For example, setting a free shipping threshold (minimum order subtotal), offering free shipping only in certain locations or compensating for free shipping with higher prices.

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Wear the peace shop offers free shipping for purchases over $40

📖 To gain more knowledge about common shipping strategies read our 6 Free Shipping Strategies and Their Alternatives article.

Optimize your costs

Creating a great shipping strategy for your customers, don’t forget to balance its impact with your expenses.

You can significantly reduce costs by shipping smart. Here are some tips:

  • Minimize box size. The less space a package takes in a delivery truck, the more cost effective it is. Consider using padded envelopes for small items.
  • Minimize the weight of a package. Use lightweight packaging materials. Be creative and think up your own methods to lower weight. Just think...outside the box!
  • Leverage special service levels. Carriers have a lot of options to provide for different types of shipping, like local delivery, or shipping for heavy boxes. Find what works for you.

One of the easiest ways to cut your expenses is to get access to exclusive discounts from USPS. Visit our shipping page to learn how to leverage Ecwid’s discounted shipping labels!

📖 Learn more about How You Can Make Your Shipping Costs More Accurate With Ecwid: Product Dimensions and Rates.

Avoid delays

Customers expect their orders to be delivered in time, even if it was a last-minute-order. The problem is — the end of the year when most of the sales deals are made is the primary rush season for carriers. You can’t control delivery time, but you can prepare your business to cope with these trials ahead of time.

💡 Here are some tips for providing your customers with better a shipping experience:

  • Offer order pickup or curbside pickup. Self-pickup options are handy for nearby customers. Set up local in-store or curbside pickup, so your customers can stop by your place and pick up their products whenever it’s convenient for them. Self-pickup option is great for local restaurants or stores selling groceries and other perishable goods.
  • Tracking. The most common question after an order has been shipped is probably “Where is my order?” To reduce your client’s anxiety, offer to track their package any time they want. You can assign tracking numbers to corresponding orders and your customers will receive them by email.
  • Backup plan for delay. Let’s assume the worst — your package hasn’t been delivered in time. Consider offering your customers discount or coupons in case of late arrival. It’s a good idea to update your FAQ section to include information on how to track the order, money-back guarantees, and so on. You may also want to update your shipping policy to cover all possible questions that your customers may have about specific shipping situations, including mishaps.
  • Check the ship-by dates. Every November season, shipping companies release holiday shipping deadlines to ensure delivery prior to specific dates. You can check it on their websites: USPS, UPS, FedEx. You can also add relevant delivery times for different shipping methods at your checkout, so customers will know when to expect their delivery based on their chosen carrier.

Wrap it like you mean it

Ship with care. After all, what is a package if not a small thank you to your customers. And it’s not just about shipping in time but about going the extra mile with appealing packaging. Think of it as of a secret weapon to stand-out in your niche.You might be surprised to learn that packaging is equally as important for winning customers over as gift cards or email marketing.

You see, the humble package is a marketing tool in itself. Or at least it can be — if you play your cards right.

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💡 Find inspiration on Pinterest and give your customers something shareworthy. Adding a handwritten thank-you card is a small step, but can have a great aww-effect. And people love to share such details on social media which gives you a free word of mouth. Bonus points if they put it on Instagram and tag you!

📖 Read our blog to learn the secret to getting repeat customers with product packaging

In your Ecwid store you can use the power of the Arka app to design the unique package for your brand in a few clicks.

Wrapping up

Early planning is the key to delighting customers and holding successful sales in your store. Set up discounts and gift cards ahead of time, so your store is always ready for upcoming sales. Use social media and ads to help you spread the word and target the right audience. Use our helpful tips to show your buyers you really care about them, and trust these strategies to lead to brand loyalty and sales growth.

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