Flash Sales are a useful eCommerce technique to push a specific subset of your products at a discount. The main qualifier of a “flash” sale is that it is offered only for a very limited amount of time; this may be as short as 30 minutes or for several hours of a single day. The small window of time for the offer creates a sense of urgency in the minds of customers, they are encouraged to act quickly and to purchase immediately or risk missing out on the discount. These types of promotions are often best advertised when multiple sales are being offered over the span of a certain period, with products rotating in and out of the discounted set.
**Note: Due to a limitation of Shopify's API requesting, discounts can only be applied to products at a rate of roughly 1000 variants per hour. This means it takes about 3 hours to start a sale involving 3000 product variants, and around the same amount of time to end it...so plan smart and accordingly!**
In this article...
Planning For Success
With a well-defined sale plan and process in place, 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 sale set every 4 hours to encourage customers to keep checking back for new discounts. There are three important components to plan for a structured flash sale:
- Products: Which products should be offered? Generally, 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. Generally, with the exception of 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). Generally, consumers expect flash sales to offer significant discounts; they'll be checking your store constantly for updated pricing and will hope to be rewarded 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 a specific type of product for each period of the sale. How long will the entire sale be and how many different sale periods will be set up?
A sale planning sheet, similar to the image below, can be a great way to help visualize your sale and allow you to ensure your promotion meets your store's goals and objectives. An sample sale planning sheet can be downloaded at the end of this article.
Creating Product Discount offers
Once the planning stage has been completed, the actual timed offers will need to be set up with the Product Discount app. You'll need to set up one new discount for each sale period planned.
In the Product Discount app, navigate to the Current Discounts screen and select the “Create Discount” button. Give the discount a title that corresponds to the sale period you are configuring.
The date range controls the period during which the sale is active and will use the time zone of your Shopify store.
A cents override can also be configured for more specific pricing reasons; this feature replaces the “cents” column on a calculated discount price with this field. For example, if a $5.00 product is set to a 30% discount with a cents override of .59, the product will be discounted to $3.59. Even though a 30% discount would calculate to a $3.50 sale price, the cents override feature will change the price accordingly. This might be used to help create an odd-even pricing program.
Next, the discount on each product will be configured. This can either be a dollar value, or a percentage of each product’s original price. It is important to note that this will be applied to every product you select for this particular offer. If different products are going on sale at the same time but at different discount rates, you will need to configure multiple offers using the app.
Select the products that will be discounted using this offer. If you are selecting more than four products, it is often helpful to create a hidden collection in Shopify that contains all products in the set to easily include them all in the offer.
Create a discount tag that will be used to rotate products in and out of the discount. You can use any tag you wish; this article will use “flash-sale” as an example.
Repeat this process for each sale segment you have configured.
Creating a Flash Sale Smart Collection
Shopify’s smart collection feature allows you to automatically select products in your store with a given tag. Product Discount can interface with 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 storeowner to manually move products in and out of a promoted section; Shopify and the Product Discount app will automatically include products as they have their sale price activated.
First, create a collection through your Shopify admin. You will want to give the collection a customer-facing title such as “Flash Sale”, “Hourly Deal” or similar.
In the Conditions panel, choose “Automatically select products based on conditions”. The condition that will need to be added is “Product tag” “is equal to” “flash-sale” (or whichever tag you configured when creating your discount offers).
You can add in a description for the collection (perhaps something encouraging the customer to check back on that page every few hours for new deals) as well as a collection image. Some themes may choose not to show the description or the collection image; if either of these don’t display when you preview the theme, contact your designer for more information.
Configuring the Sales Clock (optional)
Note: A liquid code update will be required if you have never used the app's Sales Clock feature before.
The Sales Clock is a feature of the Product Discount app that allows for a countdown timer to appear when a product has been discounted and has a sale end date. This timer works well during flash sales to create a sense of urgency for customers and encourage them 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.