10 Ways To Run a Sale on WooCommerce: Coupons, Discounts, Rewards

Written by Nicole Kohler on March 15, 2016 Blog, Marketing.

If you’re trying to get potential customers to pay attention to your store — or repeat customers to come back — your thoughts will naturally gravitate toward a sale.

Simple sales and 10% off coupon codes are great, but it pays to think outside of the box and experiment with creative strategies that work with your audience.

Today we’ll look at different types of sales you can try in your online store, plus the WooCommerce extensions that make each one possible.

From product bundles to flash sales to members-only discounts, here are 10 ideas chosen just for you.

Create smarter coupon-powered sales

Coupon codes are a common marketing tactic for stores both new and old. But without proper planning and analysis, they can result in losses, confused customers, and frustration for your team.

Here are a few smarter ways to run sales with coupons.

Create a coupon to save on orders a bit higher than the average

One common mistake that store owners make is creating coupon codes that apply to any and all orders (like “15% off all purchases”). For some stores, this is fine, but for others, this can be a margin-killer.

The smarter approach here is to make a coupon that only works on orders a little higher than your average order value (or AOV). So if most customers order $40 worth of products, the coupon should only take 15% off at the $50 mark. This saves your margins and encourages customers to buy more to get that discounts.

Want to make this happen? This is where WooCommerce’s “Swiss Army knife” of coupon extensions, Smart Coupons, comes into play. With Smart Coupons, you can not only set up this coupon, but also make it automatically display for shoppers at checkout when their order total has reached the appropriate threshold.

Available coupons can be shown at checkout and applied only when the shopping cart meets your pre-selected criteria.
Available coupons can be shown at checkout and applied only when the shopping cart meets your pre-selected criteria.

Smart Coupons has tons of features packed into it, with the coupon display and in-cart application being just one. If your goal is to get smarter about creating and offering coupons, this is the very first extension you should try.

Purchase the Smart Coupons Extension

Send a coupon that applies in one click to specific email subscribers

Offering a sale via an on-site coupon is one idea. But maybe you only want that coupon to be offered to specific customers, like those who have spent over a certain amount… or those who haven’t spent anything in the last year.

With URL Coupons, you can not only send specific customers a special coupon code via email (or any other delivery method you prefer), but you can also automate the process of getting the discount applied by creating a custom link with the code embedded within.

Send a coupon that applies with one click.
Create and send one or multiple coupons that apply in one click. Want to add specific products to the shopping cart? You can do that, too.

Part of the hassle of getting shoppers to use coupons is getting them to find the code, find the box, and type in the code. This extension eliminates that completely, automatically applying the coupon and even adding specific products to the shopping cart if you choose!

If you wish, you can also use this extension with the coupon box completely hidden, so only those who have a coupon-embedded URL can apply discounts. Boom — coupon magic.

Purchase the URL Coupons Extension

Discounts that apply automatically

Shoppers love discounts, but what they don’t love is jumping through hoops to get them. If it’s a matter of going through a five minute registration process to save a measly 5%, well… your store’s probably going to get abandoned.

Here are some ways you can set up automated sales that offer goodwill at top speed.

Offer a product bundle discount

Bundling is a tried and true discount method; it’s been around forever and it’s still used today because it works.

Product Bundles makes this possible, giving you an easy (and fast) way to create discounts that apply automatically when specific items are added to the shopping cart at the same time. See the cocktail glass set in the example below:

Offer a limited time bundle at a special price, or even with a free item.
Offer a limited time bundle at a special price, or even with a free item.

You can even use the extension to offer a free item with your bundles. Customize the discounts any way you wish, then get to marketing that sale.

Purchase the Product Bundles Extension

Try a buy one (or more), get one free sale

Who doesn’t love a BOGO? If your margins can bear it, buy one get one free sales are an incredible way to drum up attention and make money. Even “buy three get one free” or “buy two get one for $1” sales are popular, because the perceived savings are very high.

Whether you want shoppers to buy one, buy two, or buy a bunch before they get an item free, you can use the Dynamic Pricing extension to make this happen automatically with WooCommerce. The extension lets you pick the conditions in which an item (or items) will automatically be priced differently:

The configuration settings for BOGO in the Dynamic Pricing extension.
The configuration settings for BOGO in the Dynamic Pricing extension.

Then it’s up to you to let your shoppers know that you’ve got a special deal going on. Make a big fuss over it — BOGO sales are usually pretty popular, after all!

Purchase the Dynamic Pricing Extension

Offer free shipping… and promote it appropriately

Free or reduced price shipping is a common offering, and customers love it. Free shipping rules are built right into WooCommerce, so making this happen isn’t a challenge. But making your shoppers aware of it can be tricky without some custom coding or designs.

Enter Cart Notices. With this extension, you can instantly trigger in-cart messages telling shoppers that free shipping is just a few more dollars away.

If you're offering a great deal on shipping, be sure your shoppers know about it.
If you’re offering a great deal on shipping, be sure your shoppers know about it.

You can use this extension to make shoppers aware of other promotions, too — just go through the extension’s settings and apply the notices appropriately. The notices will pop up automatically when shoppers meet the appropriate conditions, and can be customized with call to action buttons and links of your choice.

If you don’t have a designer to create homepage banner images and your sitewide messages don’t seem to be doing the trick, this is a fantastic way to let shoppers know about your sale — free shipping or otherwise.

Purchase the Cart Notices Extension

Reward customers for purchasing now with a discount they can use next time

When we think of a sale, we usually think of immediate gratification. But not all sales have to end in a discount now — if they offer savings or something special for the next order, they can turn one purchase into two.

Here’s how you can set up some sales that reward customers the second time around.

Follow up post-purchase with a coupon for the next order

This first idea is simple enough, and it goes back to our idea of using coupons to entice orders from all or select groups of customers. The difference? Rather than giving a shopper a coupon right away, you only give them a coupon as a reward for making their first purchase.

The sale would probably go something like this: buy from us now, and we’ll email you a coupon good for 25% off your next order. So instead of getting just one order from a customer, you’re now getting two, and still looking generous.

This might sound like a lot of work, but you don’t have to manually create and send emails with coupons — you can automate the process with the Follow Ups extension. Follow Ups allows you to write and easily pre-schedule messages sent to customers based on highly specific criteria, like what was purchased, how much was spent, or when the purchase was made.

Setting up a follow-up email with an incentive for customers couldn't be easier.
Setting up a follow-up email with an incentive for customers couldn’t be easier.

Just create a follow-up email with a coupon code (maybe even a URL Coupon?) for customers who purchased between specific dates, schedule it, and you’re golden. Now those single-time shoppers will be hooked for a second order.

Purchase the Follow Ups Extension

Offer extra points or rewards now that are good for redemption later

Some larger or more established eCommerce stores use rewards programs to give shoppers incentives to buy from them again and again. Rewards don’t have to stand alone, however — they can be tied into a sale, where purchases accrue double points or select products result in instant rewards.

If you’re already using WooCommerce Points and Rewards, this will be an easy one for you. Simply temporarily adjust your settings to give shoppers more rewards on qualifying purchases. You can use a sitewide notice (offered in WooCommerce core) to call out the promotion, and the automatic in-cart notice will tell customers what they’ll earn toward their next order.

If you’re not already using the extension, it’s worth a look, especially if your customers are the type to make repeat purchases. It’s completely hands-off once set up, and it makes everybody feel great!

You can temporarily give shoppers double points or extra rewards that can be redeemed later for credit.
You can temporarily give shoppers double points or extra rewards that can be redeemed later for credit.

Purchase the Points and Rewards Extension

Special types of sales to try

Let’s round out these ideas with some special types of sales you can experiment with. From flash sales to deals just for specific groups of customers, these are deals that aren’t for everyone… literally.

Run a flash or one-day-only sale

Flash sales became popular a few years ago during the advent of big sites like Groupon and LivingSocial. Just because you’re not a big store doesn’t mean you can’t tap into the idea of a limited-time deal, whether you want it to last for one day or one hour.

Let your customers know what's on sale with a popup that's as easy to create as a new WordPress Page.
Let your customers know what’s on sale with a popup that’s as easy to create as a new WordPress Page.

With WooCommerce Splash Popup, you can run your own limited-time sale by creating a popup like the one above. All you need to do is price your products accordingly and make a Page or two.

Since you can schedule sales in advance with WooCommerce, you’ll first want to schedule a temporary price drop on the product(s) of your choosing. Then create WordPress Pages that show the product or products included in your flash sale, assign them to display with the extension, and you’re all set.

Another perk with this extension: you can show different Pages via the popup to registered and unregistered shoppers. So if you want a flash sale to be restricted to registered customers only, you can easily make that a reality.

Purchase the WooCommerce Splash Popup Extension

Create rotating product of the day sales

This next one is a bit like flash sales. The idea: create a short-lasting sale that applies not to your entire store or even a category, but just to one product. Creating a single “on sale” item per day is no problem with the Products of the Day extension and a little prescheduled magic.

Again, using the same method we described above, preschedule a price drop on the item(s) of your choice. Then add these same products as “products of the day” via the extension, give them somewhere to show up on your store, and you’re golden.

The product you choose is easy to schedule in advance. Combine it with a little pricing magic and you've got a single-item flash sale on your hands.
The product you choose is easy to schedule in advance. Combine it with a little pricing magic and you’ve got a single-item flash sale on your hands.

Purchase the Products of the Day Extension

Create members-only sales that require registration

Memberships can make stores look more desirable, giving them the appearance of having exclusive “clubs” (even if those memberships are free or inexpensive). If you already have members — or are considering adding them — why not reward your most loyal customers with a sale just for them?

WooCommerce Memberships gives you the power to restrict your sales (along with products and content) to groups of customers that you define. So you can give your members a special, limited-time-only sale that applies to all products or select ones, all members or select tiers, and so on.

Give all your members -- or just specific tiers -- a special discount for a limited period of time. Instant sale!
Give all your members — or just specific tiers — a special discount for a limited period of time. Instant sale!

This isn’t just a great way to get more members: it’s also a fantastic way to make your existing members feel special. Whether the sale lasts a long time or just a little while, and regardless of whether or not you promote it or let it remain a total surprise, it’s sure to make your members smile.

Purchase the WooCommerce Memberships Extension

With the right extensions, you can craft creative promotions that your shoppers adore

There you have it — 10 WooCommerce extensions that enable outside-the-box promotions for your online store. Whether you try out a coupon code or experiment with points and rewards, these ideas can give you what you need to attract both new and repeat customers.

For even more ideas you can use to create deals, discounts, and promotions, have a look at our collection of Promotions extensions. Here you’ll find options for creating coupons, running sales, designing popups, and more.

Have any questions for us about the sales we’ve suggested in this post? Or any ideas of your own to share? The comments are open and we’d love to hear from you.

15 Responses

  1. Matias Ighani
    March 17, 2016 at 12:59 am #

    The fact that so simple actions require an specific plugin starting at USD 49 (for only a year!) shows how overpriced Woothemes plugins are. I can understand that you charge USD 99 for a comprehensive plugin such as Smart Coupons, but I think that a lot of this plugins could be merged into one and offer a better value. You have Chained products, product bundles, force sells, composite products, all with a similar idea behind (you had to create a comparison in order to explain the difference: https://docs.woocommerce.com/document/chained-products-vs-product-bundles-vs-force-sells-vs-grouped-products/) and all of them are USD 49 or more.

    I bought a lot of your plugins but I just got tired, specially when I had to renew them. Now I prefer to pay half or less for third party plugins (such as CodeCanyon) that offer the same functionality and most of the time the same level of support.

    They also have demos (something that most of the time you don’t even bother to offer) and more detailed explanations of their functionalities. I also can check other customers ratings and reviews.

    • Nicole Kohler
      March 17, 2016 at 2:15 am #

      Hey Matias,

      Thanks for taking the time to leave your honest feedback on our extensions. It’s not always easy to swallow but it’s definitely appreciated.

      A few comments on some of the things you’ve said, specifically: first, I think it’s important to note that there’s a lot of sale/discount/coupon functionality built into core (that is, free) WooCommerce. The extensions recommended here are for out-of-the-box or more advanced sale ideas/assistance, which you likely won’t find for free elsewhere.

      Second, we do realize that our support isn’t where it needs to be. We’ve been actively hiring new Ninjas and beefing up our team over the last several months, and our queue wait times are getting steadily lower. This might not help you now, but here’s some insight into the plan we made (and have been working on since December): https://woocommerce.com/2015/12/future-of-woo-support/

      Third, and you likely already know this but I’m noting it for those who might read the comments 😉 our extensions renew for each subsequent year at 50% off. So the first year might indeed be $49 for the extension, updates, and support, but the second year nets you the same for $24.

      Demos can be a bit tricky to offer, but I think that’s a great idea. The same for reviews and ratings. Our team should look at adding more functionality for both of these as we move forward.

      Please don’t hesitate to reply if you have any further comments. Again, definitely appreciate you chiming in and giving us your honest critical feedback.

      • Martin Rice
        March 24, 2016 at 7:03 pm #

        Very good reply, Nicole. You took the criticism well and responded well by both admitting some need for change but also explaining why some of the criticisms weren’t spot on.

        Pointing out the 50% off on plugin renewals was good. I for one didn’t know that either.

        • Nicole Kohler
          March 25, 2016 at 12:48 am #

          Thanks Martin, that’s very kind of you to say! Yep, that’s one of the reasons I noted the half off on subscription renewals — it’s not something everyone knows about, and I personally think it’s a huge benefit, especially as we continue improving our support.

  2. thanu
    March 17, 2016 at 7:40 am #

    This 10 types of sales idea is good.It is possible information for sales matter.Gives the coupon is the best idea to cover the customers.

  3. James.Cole
    March 24, 2016 at 9:06 pm #

    I have to concur with Nicola, whilst I woiukd love to use all Woocommerce extensions… The price simple adda up to too much…..I added up what I needed the other daynand it was several hundred dollars compared to under a hundred on codecanyon and a friends tweak.

    If you cut the prices you will see more sales at less overall margin yet gain more profit…simple economics….and gain more customer base.

    I really needed a few extensiond yet was put off by the price ..then I needed another extension…and another…it adds up. ..especially to a startup with little initial.funds ….the Ines who do need help….and will remain loyal customers if we are looked after.

    You have great products let down by the pricing structures.

    You have the name, we will remain loyal if looked after in all areas rather than feeling oh… They do the same plugin /extensiins cheaper and it works.just as well.

    Just thought of day


  4. Jeff
    March 24, 2016 at 9:09 pm #

    Tell me why the Smart Coupons ‘Bulk Edit’ function doesn’t work? Or why it can’t handle trying to export a coupon thousand of them, to change them in Excel then re-import? If you run a deal with Groupon or larger site, and they want you to create LOTS of coupons, and then you need to, say, change the expiration date for several hundred of thousand…there’s NO WAY TO DO IT! And exporting them in lots of 100 is a TOTAL waste of time!

    That said, thanks for this post. There are lots of great (new) ideas here that we will definitely give a shot. Although the prospect of adding still MORE plug-ins causes me to lose sleep at the thought of the potential conflicts.


    • Nicole Kohler
      March 25, 2016 at 12:46 am #

      Hey Jeff, glad you got some new ideas, but what’s up with the Smart Coupons trouble you’re having? We’d like to hear a little more about that if you don’t mind. Is this something you’ve already opened a ticket with us about by chance? 🙂

  5. Judy FAwcett
    March 25, 2016 at 5:54 pm #

    I am trying to sell the same products both retail and wholesale. My wholesale customers will get a discount based on the number of products they buy and not be charged sales tax. I do not want my regular customers to be able to see these discounted prices. How can I this up?

    • Nicole Kohler
      March 25, 2016 at 11:25 pm #

      Hey Judy, I’d recommend using either Dynamic Pricing: https://woocommerce.com/products/dynamic-pricing/ OR WooCommerce Memberships: https://woocommerce.com/products/woocommerce-memberships/

      With either one of these extensions you can create a WordPress user role for your wholesale customers, and then individual accounts that belong to that role. Those wholesale customers, once they log in, will then receive a discount on their purchase. Only accounts that you assign to the user role/group of wholesale customers will get the discount.

      Both extensions accomplish the same functionality here, but have a different set of additional options (Memberships allows you to also restrict products completely and hide content, Dynamic Pricing lets you do a lot of other automatic pricing things).

      As for the removal of sales tax, there’s some custom code here for this: https://support.woothemes.com/hc/en-us/articles/202203989-Apply-different-tax-rates-based-on-the-customer-role Again, you’d need to have that user role set up first, but this should take care of that for you. 🙂

      Hope this helps! If you run into any trouble or have any further questions, give us a shout or open a ticket and we’ll lend a hand.

  6. Guillermo
    March 28, 2016 at 4:17 pm #


    Our company works with a multi-site store. Basically we have one main domain (mother store) and mutiple subdomains that works a different stores (children stores).
    Would it be possible to get the plugin suscription for one site that works for the main store and its children sites too?

    Thanks so much, Nicole. Incredible post.

    • Nicole Kohler
      March 29, 2016 at 5:17 am #

      Hey Guillermo, for this situation you’d probably want to buy a multi-subscription pack of whatever extension you’re interested in. That basically gives you 5 (or more) subscription keys instead of just one, so all of your sites get updates, support, etc. while using that extension.

      Having said that, if you’re looking at an extension that you’re only going to actively use on one store at a time, it IS possible to just buy one subscription, download the ZIP file, install it on all the stores, and only have the subscription key activated on whatever store “needs” it at that time (for support, for updates, etc.). It’s a little bit of a hassle but if you’re looking at an extension you’re only going to use temporarily or a few times a year, it might make more sense.

      Just keep in mind that if a subscription key isn’t active or a subscription expires for an extension, you lose out on support, updates, and the ability to re-download the file. That might work out for some extensions, but for others, getting a 5 pack would be a much better choice.

      You’re absolutely welcome and I would even say encouraged to run this question by our pre-sales team. They can give you some great advice re: what to do per extension and how to get your stores all running properly without spending too much or too little on subscriptions. 🙂 You can get in touch by opening a ticket the same way you would for regular support.

      Hope this helped!

  7. Jon
    April 5, 2016 at 9:53 pm #

    We are working on a redesign of an old site with wordpress and I am looking for a plugin to offer a free 3rd product for those who buy two different specific products. We have chain products and with what we have it seems we would need to create a separate bundle for the two products to include the third. Is there a way to do this with chain products or would product bundle have been a better choice. In the end I want people to either be able to choose a package or each individual product to have the free product added to the cart automatically.


    • Nicole Kohler
      April 9, 2016 at 4:01 am #

      Hey Jon, definitely reach out to our pre-sales support team to check with them on this — I think they’re going to be able to give you the best answer possible for your situation with chained products vs. me taking a guess. 🙂

      As long as you have an account (and it’s free to get one if you don’t), you can open a ticket with us here: https://woocommerce.com/my-account/create-a-ticket/ And we’ll get back to you with the best suggestion shortly.

      Hope that helps!

  8. Thiago
    June 21, 2018 at 5:46 pm #

    Sensacional o seu artigo e suas dicas… Estava justamente procurando por algo para diferenciar em uma estratégia para um e-commerce de um cliente.
    Com certeza as dicas me ajudaram e muito surgindo muitas ideias.


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