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Electronic commerce, or e-commerce, refers to the activity of exchanging products or services through telecommunications networks. It has been in existence for more than forty years.
However, its integration in various types of businesses, especially retail, has skyrocketed following the COVID-19 pandemic. A 2020 report reveals that over two billion people around the globe purchased goods or services online. The same report also says that global e-commerce retail sales surpassed $4.2 trillion.
Setting up an e-commerce business doesn’t guarantee instant success. To rise above the tough competition, you need to gain a competitive advantage.
For example, you can focus on effectively managing your supply chain. Engaging in dropshipping, selling on Amazon, and partnering with third-party logistics can help address inventory-related problems.
You can also put your attention on engaging and retaining customers. Sales promotions are a sure-fire way to attract new customers and maintain loyal ones.
Your goal as an entrepreneur is to get consumers to purchase and repurchase your products or services. Value creation is the key to drawing loyal customers. An effective way to create value is through sales promotions.
Sales promotions are a marketing tool designed to persuade a target audience to become customers by offering products or services at discounted rates. They are time-limited and serve as a call to action for consumers to take advantage of low prices before time runs out.
Did you know that 76% of purchase decisions are made in-store? The same holds true for e-commerce. According to MarketingLand, 91% of shoppers go into stores due to online promotions. Sales promotions effectively attract customers and increase sales since they reach consumers at the place and time where most purchase decisions are made.
Shoppers are price sensitive. Around 60% of shoppers associate finding great deals on products or services with the feeling of winning. Apart from engaging and retaining customers and increasing sales, sales promotions offer business owners like yourself other advantages. These include the following:
- Promote upselling and cross-selling. Products or services sell faster when offered at lower prices or proactively promoted to shoppers through Google ads and other channels. Sales promotions can let you persuade shoppers to buy more expensive items or lesser-known items by pairing the said items with cheaper or more popular ones.
- Increase profits. Revenue and profit differ from each other. In particular, revenue is the money you generate from sold products or services, while profit refers to sales minus the incurred expenses, debts, and other obligations. The more revenue you get, the more profits you generate.
- Minimize risks. Sales promotions can help you clear out excess inventory. You can then use the money generated to meet end-of-the-quarter expense obligations and buy new stocks to prepare for the next season.
Sales promotion ideas and examples are endless but try not to be so overwhelmed. Below is a list you can replicate or modify to get you started:
Free stuff, anyone? Uh, everyone!
The “Buy One, Get One” or BOGO offer is the most effective sales promotion strategy. A 2020 study published in the Journal of Business Research shows that BOGO offers attract more attention than multi-buy percentage offers even when both are equal in terms of net value.
An added advantage of BOGO offers is that they rarely cost you anything. Say you bought the items for $5 per piece from the manufacturer and sell each for $15. You will still earn $5 if you sell two items for the price of one ($15 – $10). If you offer a 50% discount, you would only get $2.50 from selling just one item at a discounted price ([$15 / 2] – $5).
2. Cashback Deals
Shopping is good for mental health. It provides instant gratification and combats lingering sadness.
Even so, shopping may require careful and often lengthy deliberation. After all, it involves money. You can make shoppers feel less bad about spending money by offering them something in return.
Online cashback shopping may be a relatively new concept in marketing, but it is a fast-growing phenomenon. The United States has the highest cashback usage in the world. In layman’s terms, cashback deals refund shoppers a small percentage of the amount they spent on each purchase.
Many e-commerce businesses use cashback deals to drive sales. A 2015 report issued by the Marketing Science Institute describes cashback as cash forward as it delays a discount to increase future spending.
3. Flash Sales
Shoppers make unplanned or impulse purchases 60% to 70% of the time. You can take advantage of this fact by offering flash sales.
As the name suggests, flash sales come and go in a flash. They usually run for twenty-four hours or even less. Take a look at Bath & Body Works. The band is famous for offering discounts valid for a day or overnight.
Flash sales work because they create a sense of urgency. Shoppers are easily coaxed into buying from flash sales when they perceive the discounted products or services as time-limited and scarce.
4. Gift Vouchers and Coupons
Consumers put together an order for various reasons. They may want to reward themselves or others or seek instant stress relief.
Unfortunately, many carts get abandoned before checkout. In 2021, almost 80% of online shopping orders were not converted into purchases. Common reasons for abandoning online shopping carts include conflict of time and insufficient budget.
Gift vouchers and coupons can entice your customers to “Add to Cart” and “Check Out” your products or services. A recent survey suggests that using vouchers and coupons makes shoppers feel smarter. Shoppers are also more likely to make impulse purchases from stores that offer vouchers and coupons.
5. Free Shipping
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Want to know what else prevents buyers from buying more online? The shipping or delivery fee. Spending money is one thing, but paying extra for shipping or delivery is another matter.
The latter doesn’t sit well with many shoppers. To be exact, it represents 52% of the abandonment of online shopping carts. You can remove the barrier by offering free shipping.
Free shipping is a surefire way to increase your sales. Besides enticing shoppers to check out their carts, free shipping also increases their purchase quantities per site visit.
6. Free Returns and Exchanges
Offering free returns and exchanges is another opportunity for you to increase your online sales. It boosts customer satisfaction, thus leading to repeated purchases.
E-commerce experts Lisa Jack, Regina Frei, and Dr. Sally-Ann Krzyzaniak claim that customers spend 75% to 100% less in their subsequent purchases with the same retailer when they have to pay for returns or exchanges. In contrast, customers spend 158% to 457% more in their subsequent purchases with the same retailer when they can return or exchange the items they bought free of charge.
7. Contests and Giveaways
Hitting two birds with one stone should be a business motto. It is efficient as it saves time, reduces costs, and achieves positive results.
Hosting a contest or giveaway on social media allows you to hit two birds (or even more!) with one stone. It bolsters brand awareness, expands target reach, and increases sales.
There are tons of social media contests and giveaways. You can create hype around your contests and giveaways by utilizing tags and shares and starting a challenge.
Only a few people may receive your products or services for free. Nonetheless, those who joined your contest or giveaway and the persons they tagged will learn about your business, which means more potential buyers for you.
8. Cause-Based Promotions
Another way for you to hit two birds with one stone is by doing charity work. Donating a portion of your earnings, also known as corporate philanthropy, positively impacts society and increases your market value.
Many people are becoming more involved in social issues, and they are taking part in addressing social issues in the best ways they can. One of which is supporting charitable companies. A recent article in the Journal of Open Innovation reports that 33% of consumers opt to buy from companies that contribute to any social cause.
However, the success of a cause-based promotion depends on how consumers positively receive it. Choosing a charitable cause related to your industry or aligned with your business objectives may help you gain positive feedback.
Cause-based promotions can mean a triple win for major stakeholders. Your chosen charity collects donations to advance their cause. Meanwhile, you gain a bigger customer base and higher sales. Finally, your customers get to feel good about themselves.
Boosting your sales may be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Sales promotions can aid you in getting immediate and long-term sales. Equally important, they can increase your brand’s recognition, enabling you to attract new customers and retain old ones.
Make sure you communicate your sales promotions in the right outlets.