What is A Flash Sale? Beginner's Guide to Double Revenue

Flash sales are more like a boom in sales, gone in a flash.

And if there’s one thing that brick-to-mortar stores taught us about huge sales, it’s that people can line up before down, skip sleep, fight over products during such sales.

Also called the deal of the day, these types of sale campaigns can reach up to 80% discount on particular products for a short time. A flash sale can boost brand visibility, improve customer loyalty and revenue.

By the end of this blog post, you’ll learn everything about flash sale campaigns. Ready, set, go! what-is-flash-sale-blog-cover

What Are Flash Sales?


Flash sales are when an e-commerce store offers a discount or promotion for a limited, very short period of time. As its name suggests, these types of sales campaigns are gone in a flash.

The primary purposes behind the flash sales strategy are to trigger consumer impulse to buy, boost short-term sales, and sell a massive number of products in a few hours.

However, you need to be thoroughly prepared for the same reason that is receiving a heavy load or orders in a few hours.

Especially if you’re expecting ten times or more than your usual daily sales, special preparations are recommended to run your flash sale without roadblocks.

Think about it, what would happen if you run out of stock or run into problems with shipping?

That would hurt your brand reputation, and in the worst-case scenario, you would lose customers, not to mention the negative word-of-mouth.

flash sale meme

How flash sales differ from regular sales:

  • Shorter time span
  • Notably better deals from what your business usually offers
  • A limited selection of products available and often in reduced stocks

The best examples of flash sales are Black Friday and Cyber Monday when consumers spend more than usual. But a flash sale can happen any day and attract online shoppers any time.

When Should You Run a Flash Sale Campaign?

There is no fixed best time to run a flash sale campaign. So, what’s the best time to run a flash sale? Some of the best times to flash out a flash sale and get your bottom line growing are:

easter flash sale popup example

Before holidays

E-commerce businesses bombard consumers with flash sales during the holiday season, resulting in sales fatigue in customers. The holiday seasons, also known as “peak season,” are the busiest time for online stores.

Brands flood sales emails into customer inboxes, causing consumers to ignore them due to a mass number of promotional emails. So what’s the best solution to attract your customers to your flash sales campaign?

Running e-commerce holiday ads before the holiday season (as early as October), coordinated with a flash sale. This way, you can get the opportunity to get ahead of your competitors, capture new customers, and make extra room for new inventory.

After holidays

Just as online stores see a spike in orders during the holiday season, they encounter a spike in returns once the season ends. One of the most common reasons for that is because customers return unwanted gifts.

However, don’t let this discourage you. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to lose money. By rolling out a flash sale after the holiday season (in January), you can still have an opportunity to grow your gross margin and make up for money lost in returns.

Every once in a while

You simply shouldn’t constantly run flash sales. Otherwise, you may face a drastic downfall in your brand reputation. Therefore, it’s essential to know that timing is everything.

Running a flash sale every few months is an ideal option for most e-commerce businesses. You can even consider organizing your flash deals according to holidays like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July, and Valentine’s day, when online shoppers often seek deals to buy gifts.

How long does a flash sale last?

The shorter a flash sale, the better the results will be. Using urgency triggers consumers into making the buying decision more quickly. Long story short, flash sales work for many businesses, and data back it.

Research shows that:

  • 56% of businesses receive higher click-to-open rates from flash sales emails compared to their yearly rate.
  • 50% of purchases occur during the first hour of a flash sale.
  • 3-hour flash sales generate the highest transaction rates at 14%

Would Flash Sales Work For Your Business?

Flash deals can prove lucrative for some companies, while it may also result in money and reputation loss for others. However, chances of reaping top-line and bottom-line growth are higher if you are prepared well.

I recommend considering the pros and cons of a flash sale to set realistic goals.

pros and cons of a flash sale

Pros of a Flash Sale Campaign

Many e-commerce companies rely on flash sales to improve brand awareness and sales. In fact, they may prove more beneficial to your business’s growth than you might think.

Boost brand visibility: Flash sales trigger urgency in customers and instantly convert visitors into buyers. That goes for social media as well. Online shoppers who see your irresistible offers and consequently become your customer often share them with their friends or colleagues on social media—all the more for brand awareness.

Improve revenue: Statistics show that flash sales generate a 35% increase in transaction rates. Online consumers tend to buy fast and place larger orders during a limited-time sale than usual.

Grow the number of loyal customers: Flash sales offer better deals than regular sales, making them an excellent way to increase customer loyalty. You may think as a reward for your existing customer—these sales will enable them to buy your products at a lower cost. Ultimately, if they like your products, they’ll buy more in the future.

Unload excess inventory: You can sell items that are not in demand anymore at lower princess during a flash sale, unload your excess inventory, and make room for new items. For example, selling seasonal or specialty products can help you gain revenue out of them instead of letting them sit and rot in a corner.

Cons of a Flash Sale Campaign

Running a flash sale every once in a while can result in reaping off the benefits stated above. However, it’s wiser to consider that there’s also another side of the coin. I hope it never flips, but if it does, here are examples of what may happen:

Shipping fail

Flash sale seasons are the busiest time for e-commerce stores. Even though it sounds like a superb opportunity, there are many businesses that run into shipping failure due to the excessive number of orders.

Consequently, shipping failure reduces customer experience and brand reputation.

It’s very common for flash deal customers to complain about waiting several weeks to receive their delivery. Therefore, you need to keep an eye on customer perception not only before and during the sales but also after an order takes place.

  • 61% of online shoppers want their items delivered within 3 hours of making an online purchase, while 80% of consumers want same-day shipping.
    • Additionally, 17% of online buyers say they will abandon a brand due to shipping delays. (Easyship)

The best practice to stand out among competitors and increase customer satisfaction would be to offer free shipping and guarantee your shipping plan. Ultimately, free shipping will increase your AOV (average order value) as well.

Website fail

Even large companies encounter website crashes during a flash sale. If your business model heavily relies on flash sales, consider

  • Load testing
  • Extra server capacity
  • The ability to scale on demand
  • Load testing your e-commerce platform, apps, and third-party tools that rely on API calls

Inventory fail

From the consumer perspective, not getting the product you were hoping to buy can be pretty disappointing. To prevent inventory failure:

  • Research demand and prepare your supply chain to meet the demand
  • Add inventory quantities to your product pages
  • Make sure to have adequate buffer stock levels to protect from oversells

8 Best Practices of Flash SellersThat Double Sales

1. Use Popups to Attract More Customers

The most important part about marketing a flash sale is making many people know about it.

Whether you perform inbound or outbound marketing, hyping up online shoppers about deals can multiply sales revenue and brand visibility. Social media marketing is an excellent method to spread the word, but it’s also essential to turn your existing website traffic into flash deal customers.

The easiest and most effective way to do that? Using promotional popups to announce your campaign and direct visitors to the sale page!

We suggest you use a reliable popup builder tool like Popupsmart so that you can target the right visitors at the right time and keep converting with an eye-catching popup.

Here’s an example flash sale popup made with ❤️ using Popupsmart:

flash sale popup example

To nudge more visitors into buying, you can use countdown timers just like in the example popup above. Triggering urgency with expressions like “limited stocks, limited-time, hurry, and last-minute” is a tried and tested tactic as well.

Create a Free Flash Sale Popup

2. Segment Potential Buyers

Whom will you market your online sale to? Don’t get me counting on the possibilities because there is a wide range of different target audiences, so the list might get way too long.

But it’s a different case with flash sales. You should focus on just two types: potential customers and loyal customers.

Targeting your loyal customers with a flash sale

Keep it exclusive: Make sure that only your loyal customers have access to the flash sale. Send your flash sale email campaign to your subscription list.

Don’t broadcast, just segment: Broadcast emails might work well in some cases, but not the case of a flash sale. Don’t send your flash sale email campaign to customers who have already purchased the item you’ve placed a massive discount on. They won’t be happy to see that people can now buy the same product for 50% less—naturally.

Win back passive customers: Including your inactive customers in your flash sales email campaign can be a perfect way to win them back.

Target cart abandoners: On average, 69.80% of online shoppers abandon their carts without completing a purchase. This is why emailing them about your flash sale campaign can be a logical step to take and convert them.

flash promotion

Targeting potential customers with a flash sale

Add an inventory countdown on your flash product page: Seeing a product’s popularity influences customers’ decisions and nudges the buying impulse.

If you plan to send an email campaign, target disengaged customers and subscribers who haven’t made their purchase yet. This way, you can convert more.

Consider running a limited-time Google Ads: Trigger your flash sale ads using the exact keywords related to your flash products.

3. Keep Your Flash Sales Short and Sweet

The shorter a flash sale, the better. It’s a flash sale, not a months-long regular thing. It should be less than 24 hours. If not, is it even a flash?

Though some brands have flash deals that last days, research suggests a shorter period is more successful. 2 to 3-hour long flash sales usually drive better results for most companies.

Moreover, I can’t stress this enough: Make your flash sales urgent.

FOMO is a powerful initiator of fast buying decisions.

4. Select The Right Products for a Successful Sale

If you are a retailer with thousands of items that are not selling as fast as you’d like, then you should spend a notable time and effort in identifying which products to sell in a flash sale. To do that;

  • Use Google Keyword Planner to see search volumes.
  • Take advantage of keyword research tools like SEMrush to find out which products your competitors focus on and get ahead.
  • Look for negative reviews left by your competitor’s customers and use them in your sales ad.

5. Promote Your Flash Deals

Colorpop flash sale

Apart from using popups to let more people know about your deals, promoting them through other channels is highly beneficial. This way, you can target subscribers who haven’t visited your site for some time.

Email Newsletters Emails have an average open rate of 18%. That means you can draw more traffic to your flash pages. To do that, you need to build a mailing list. You can do that by implementing subscription forms on your website.

Here are some tips to increase email engagement:

SMS Another channel you can use to promote your campaign is SMS. You can create personalized text messages to reach out to your target audience and convert them.

SMS messages are read within 3 minutes, making them a perfect way to promote time-sensitive campaigns.

How to get your customers’ phone numbers in the first place? You can do that with SMS subscription popups.

6. Highlight The Difference From Regular Sales

Why should your customers buy now and not when there’s another regular sale? What do they get out of it?

It’s always more practical and fruitful to highlight the benefits and differences of a flash sale. Whether it’s a bigger discount or limited stocks, make sure to market your way up to the top.

Key Takeaways for Successful Flash Sales

  1. Check your stock before you start a flash sale.
  2. Get ready for an immense number of deliveries and orders.
  3. Limit the time of your flash sale.
  4. Promote it well to reap better results.
  5. Use popups to convert passive site visitors.
  6. Choose the right products and services.

Flash Sales: Best Practices Infographic

best practices of flash sales infographic

We like sharing our knowledge with our visitors! You are very welcome to use our infographic on your website for presenting excellent information about the best practices of flash sale campaigns.

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