Lots of posts about eCommerce over the holidays encourage you to get started early. We’ve published a number of these ourselves!
But the good news is it’s never too late to set up a sale, discount, or deal in your store. As long as the holidays are still happening, you can take a few minutes to get in on the holiday action.
Try these last-minute holiday sale ideas now, next month, or the next time a holiday rolls around.
1. Set Up a Smart Discount
A “smart” discount’s criteria determine whether or not it automatically applies to a customer’s cart. For example, you could set one up that takes 30% off orders of three or more men’s shirts. It will only apply when three or more shirts are in the cart, but will do so instantly, no code required.
The huge benefit of these discounts is that you only have to set them up once, and they apply without you or the customer doing anything special.
Enable them when you’re ready, disable them when you’re done. Pair with a site-wide banner or on-page notice to advertise.
A few ideas for quick and easy smart discounts:
- Buy x items from a specific category, save $y
- Buy x items total, save $y (or take z% off)
- Spend more than $x, receive $y off your entire order
Remember: It’s important to spend some time working out what level of discount you can afford to offer. More revenue doesn’t necessarily lead to more profit if you’re discounting to the skies (and using up your margin).
To set up smart discounts, try Dynamic Pricing for WooCommerce.
2. Clear Out Your Stock: Discount or Give Away Slow-moving Goods
If you’re aiming for something to set up in a hurry and have a full warehouse to empty out, this one’s for you.
Discounts aren’t right for every store, but if your margins are healthy enough, you can attract more customers by offering instant savings on your goods. Said savings can also help you move merchandise quickly, making room for newer or more desirable stock.
So, if you’re trying to clear out last season’s styles, mark them down by 30% and call it a holiday special. Have a new product model coming in? Slash the prices on the current one to make room.
If you have products that you are desperate to get rid of ––like old stock, discontinued goods, or items you’ve found literally lying about the warehouse — you can advertise a free gift with orders over a certain amount. Then toss said products into the box and ship them out.
Giving away leftover or unwanted items to customers might feel a bit cheap, but shoppers love free gifts. They can even help motivate purchases, much like free shipping might. So if you’ve got the margins and need to make space, go for it!
3. Cover Shipping Costs
Shoppers don’t enjoy paying for shipping. In fact 56% of consumers cite shipping costs as the reason they abandon their carts.
If you’ve got a little wiggle room in your budget and need a last-minute idea to compel shoppers to stay with you: make your shipping free. You can do it on every order if you’re feeling generous, or just on orders over a certain amount.
One tip on offering free shipping without losing much (if any) money: if you know your average order value, make the free shipping threshold about one product above that. So if your AOV is $40 and you mostly sell $10 goods, you’d aim to offer free shipping on orders $50 and up.
The above tactic is how most retailers get their customers to order a bit more than usual (and recoup their shipping costs) while still offering some kindness during the holiday season.
4. Offer a Discount Off their Next Purchase
If you’re aiming to run a sale for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, you really don’t have much time. Even the above ideas take some planning, not to mention manpower (shipping, marketing, website management…) you could be short on at the moment.
So, let’s take an idea from some of the big box retailers. Some of these stores are selling pricier items (like tablets and computers) at or near full price, but are offering gift cards toward the customer’s next purchase at checkout.
Thinking what we’re thinking?
The summary is this: offer your customers a gift certificate or discount off their next purchase if they buy with you now. You might not have anything on sale right now, since you don’t have time to set it up. But maybe you will in a month, when they come to shop with you again.
“But,” you might object, “won’t this still take a while to set up? I’ll still have to find a way to give them the discount.”
If you’re using WooCommerce and the always-versatile Smart Coupons extension, this is actually quite quick. Smart Coupons allows you to automatically extend a coupon post-purchase to a shopper who’s bought a specific item. So you could make this coupon appear for all items… or just a select few.
To further this idea, the coupon conditions are entirely up to you. Want the coupon to be for 50% off and only good for a single day? You got it. 20% off and good for all of December? Of course.
To recap this idea:
- A customer makes a purchase with you now at full price
- Based on your Smart Coupons setup, they’ll automatically get a coupon code to use on a future purchase (the unique code will appear at checkout, no interference from you required)
- The customer can return during the code’s activation period and apply it for a discount
Smart Coupons has plenty of amazing capabilities, but if you’re running late on your holiday discounts and want to get not one, but two purchases out of your shoppers, it transcends “amazing” and becomes “phenomenal.”
5. Make Sure The World Knows About Your Special Offer
Running a stellar sale at the last minute is a feat in and of itself. But your efforts could be wasted if you can’t catch your customers’ attention and get them to your store.
Although your time is undoubtedly limited, you’ll still want to find a few ways to market your deal to the customers who might not naturally think about your store when they’re looking for holiday sales. Here are some ideas for you, ordered by fastest to not-as-fast:
- Publish social media messages about the sale to all of your channels. If you’re about to be out of the office, Buffer is an ideal tool for this (and one we use ourselves): it lets you schedule tweets, posts, and now even pins in advance, plus it’s super affordable.
- Deploy a sitewide notice. If you’re using WooCommerce, this is built right in — head to WooCommerce > Settings and customize the text. Add some HTML to get a link in there and you’re golden.
- Add in-cart notices or calls to action. Again, with WooCommerce, you can do this in a snap with the Cart Notices extension. If a customer needs to spend another $20 to get a free gift or have their shipping covered, it should only take a few minutes to set up that automatic notice.
- If any products are marked down, customize their pages. This can be as simple as adding a bolded piece of text to the product copy that says “now through 12/1, save 30% on this item instantly!” If you have extra time, design and add a graphic instead. Just remember to remove the customization later!
- Set up a remarketing ad on Facebook. Some customers might visit your store and like your sale, but get distracted. Tempt them back with a highly targeted ad. Here are some instructions on setting one up.
- Create and send an email campaign. Emails usually take a while to create, but if you’ve got a solid template, your copywriter on standby, and a graphic ready, go for it. This is by far the best way to get a customer’s attention during the holidays, but also the most time-consuming on your end.
You can do just one of these things if you’re really short on time (say, if you’ve only got fifteen minutes to burn before grabbing the turkey out of the oven so that doesn’t burn)… but ideally you’ll do a combination of three or four.
Our recommendation: start from the top and work your way down until you run out of time. Email is the most ideal solution and typically the most profitable, but the more bases you can cover, the better.
What are you waiting for? Start planning with a little help from us
If you started reading this post with a feeling of dread deep in the pit of your stomach, we hope these ideas have shown you that all hope is not lost. It’s never too late to get in on the holiday sale action. Heck, depending on where your customers are located or what holidays they celebrate, you might even be getting started early!
We hope these ideas have helped you come up with something great that you can offer to your customers. Whether you’re planning for Black Friday or beyond, we know you can create an amazing deal. Feel free to show us what you came up with in the comments.