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Create a Flash Sale

Flash Sales are a useful eCommerce technique to push a specific subset of your products at a discount. Offer a "flash" sale for a limited amount of time; this may be as short as 30 minutes or for several hours of one day. The small window of time creates a sense of urgency for customers; they are encouraged to act quickly and to purchase immediately or risk missing out on the deal. These types of promotions are often best advertised when you offer many sales over a short period, with products rotating in and out of the discounted set.

Note: Due to a limitation of Shopify's API requests, discounts can only apply to products at a rate of roughly 1000 variants per hour. It takes about 3 hours to start a sale involving 3000 product variants, and around the same amount of time to end it.

With a defined plan and process in place for your sale, you can ensure that your offer is flawlessly executed to improve conversions. In general, flash sale promotions will offer several (4+) "sale periods" within a given timespan; in the case of a 24-hour flash sale, products might rotate into the set every 4 hours to encourage customers to keep checking back for new discounts. There are three components to plan for a structured flash sale:

  • Products: Slower moving products are best to put on sale as lowering the price can increase perceived value for customers. Higher-margin products are also good candidates, as they have additional room to offer a discount without taking a loss on each sale.
  • Discounts: Select an appropriate discount for each product. Except for discontinued SKUs or stagnant inventory, selling products at a loss is ill-advised (although can help to generate traffic to your site and offer the potential to upsell other, higher-margin products). Consumers expect flash sales to have significant discounts; they'll check your store regularly for updated pricing and will hope you reward them for their persistence. Ensuring a good mix of discount amounts increases the average basket amount as consumers purchase multiple items together.
  • Scheduling: When will each product go on sale? Some stores will opt for a mix of products from different categories to be on sale at the same time, whereas others will choose to promote entire collections or feature type of product for each period of the sale. How long will the sale be and how many different periods will be set up?

A sale planning sheet can be a great way to help visualize your sale and allow you to ensure your promotion meets your store's goals and objectives. You can download a sample sale planning sheet at the bottom of this article.

Sale Planning Sheet

Once the planning stage is complete, the timed offers will need to be set up with Product Discount. You'll need to set up one new discount for each sale period planned.

In Product Discount app, navigate to the Current Discounts screen and select the "Create Discount" button. Give it a title that corresponds to the sale period you are configuring.

Visit Create a Discount with Product Discount for detailed setup instructions.

Create a Discount Tag that will be used to rotate products in and out of the discount; you can use any one you wish. Repeat the process for each sale segment you have configured.

Shopify's smart collection feature allows you to select products in your store with a given tag automatically. Product Discount can reference these using its tagging feature. By automatically adding tags to products that have a discount applied to them, it can rotate products in and out of a "Flash Sale" collection while the sale goes on. There is no need for the store owner to move items in and out of a promoted section manually; Shopify and the Product Discount app will automatically include products as they have their sale price activated.

Visit Create a Collection for Product Discount Using a Product Tag for complete setup instructions.

Note: Give the collection a customer-facing title such as "Flash Sale", "Hourly Deal", etc. Use the same Product Tag you used with you created your discount.

Add a description to the collection (perhaps something encouraging the customer to check back every few hours for new deals) as well as a collection image. Some themes may choose not to show the description or the image; if either of these don't display when you preview the theme, contact your designer for more information.

Note: The Sales Clock Install Instructions will be required if you have never used this feature before.

The Sales Clock is a feature of Product Discount that allows for a countdown timer to appear when a product has been discounted and has a sale end date. This timer creates a sense of urgency and encourages customers to purchase immediately. You can select the text displayed on the Sales Clock using the settings inside the app. It is recommended to use a timer with a "seconds" time display which will count down and show customers exactly how long they have left to take advantage of the sale.

Sales Clock