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Creating smart discounts for holiday shoppers

Written by Nicole Kohler on November 10, 2015 Blog, Sell Online.

With the holiday season almost upon us, finding ways to appeal to shoppers is likely at the top of your to-do list. This probably means creating a discount or two, or sending out a coupon code to your email subscribers.

Holiday deals take work, though, and quite a bit of time to maintain. If your time or resources are limited, you might be dreading the process of setting up, monitoring, and discontinuing these offers.

The good news? There’s a way to make your customers happy and save yourself some time. This involves setting up and advertising “smart” holiday discounts that automatically apply to products or purchases based on specific criteria.

Today we’ll explore how you can use a solution like Dynamic Pricing to automatically offer discounts or special deals to customers during the holiday season — no maintenance required.

What makes a discount “smart”

A maintenance-free holiday sale sounds like a dream — too good to be true. But it’s absolutely possible, not to mention potentially profitable.

A “smart” discount is one that is applied automatically to a customer’s order based on pre-defined criteria. This criteria might include:

  • The number of products in the shopping cart
  • The type or category of these products
  • Whether or not related items are purchased together
  • Whether or not the customer has a membership or is part of a special group

Essentially, these are discount “rules” that you set up once, with a deadline with you wish. Then you can advertise your offers, and wait for the sales to roll in.

Interested? Let’s explore some ideas for smart discounts you can set up before the holidays get underway.

For starters: apply a flat discount to a category or group of products

This kind of offer is both the easiest to set up and the easiest for customers to understand.

Let’s say you run an online boutique for women, and you want to run a holiday sale on dresses, but not shirts and shoes. No problem — simply set up a discount that applies to your “dresses” category automatically. You can make it $5 off, or 10% off, whatever you like.

A category discount is easy for customers to understand.
A category discount is easy for customers to understand.

This kind of discount is easy for shoppers to wrap their heads around: if the item they’re buying is a dress, it will be discounted by the stated amount. If it’s a pair of shoes, it’ll be full price.

It’s also incredibly simple for you to set up, advertise, and discontinue when you’re through with it. Want to run a flash sale? A category-based discount is probably the best way to go about it.

Create volume-based discounts

Volume-based discounts are effective if your goal is to encourage customers to order more products than usual, or if you want to clear out excess inventory.

With this offer, shoppers only receive a discount if they place a certain number of products in their shopping cart. You can set this number to anything you like, whether it’s two items or twenty.

The best way to go about this is to offer a discount at a slightly higher cart size than your customers would normally prefer. If your average order size is 3 items, offer a discount at 4 items or more. They’ll be motivated to spend more, and will still feel great about their savings.

… or category and volume-based offers

Feeling adventurous? You can combine the two ides above — category discounts, and volume-based discounts — into one. This means offering a discount only when a customer purchases multiple items from the same category.

If you have a store with only a few product categories, but it’s common to see multiple purchases of items from one category, this is a smart way to incentivize orders.

Want shoppers to pick up more than one of the same item? Combine volume and category discounts.
Want shoppers to pick up more than one of the same item? Combine volume and category discounts.

Think about this from the standpoint of a holiday shopper: someone might want to buy all their male relatives a nice tie. If they see an offer for 25% off orders of 4 or more ties, they’re going to jump on it. A great deal for them, profit for you.

Reduce the price of related items or accessories

Let’s say your online store sells products that have optional accessories — like tablets with a case, or cameras with a battery charger. You can encourage sales of said accessories by discounting them when they’re purchased with that “main” item.

The way to make this work is to set up a trigger so that the discount only activates when a combination of items are in the cart together. For example, your customer might need to purchase a tablet from one list and a case from another to receive $10 off the case.

Discounting the add-ons can encourage more sales of the "big ticket" item.
Discounting the add-ons can encourage more sales of the “big ticket” item.

If your goal is to sell more related items or accessories during the holidays, increasing the profit you make on sales that might otherwise be a single item, this is a smart way to go about it.

Have memberships or a club? Give them automatic discounts, too

Finally, don’t forget to consider your store’s members. Memberships can add value to your store in plenty of ways, but you should also think about how you can give back to these customers during the holidays.

Setting up and marketing a simple “members get an extra 10% off” discount takes no time at all, and it makes your members feel great about being part of that exclusive group. It can also encourage them to come back and shop with you if they haven’t visited your site for a little while.

Hoping to gain more members in time for the holidays? Start this promotion soon, and mention it frequently. Depending on the cost of membership — and the other perks received during the rest of the year — you might have a lot of luck encouraging new signups this way.

Just take care not to go overboard with your member discounts. If customers can combine deals, keep an eye on what is running concurrently — members might love saving 50% in all, but you… not so much.

Smart discounts take the hassle out of holiday deals

By creating automatically applied discounts or experimenting with dynamic pricing, you’ll be able to dramatically reduce the amount of time and resources you need to invest in holiday promotions. It’s a win-win situation: you gain time and sales, and your customers get the deals they desire.

Interested in trying out some of the ideas from this post? If you’re using WooCommerce, have a look at the Dynamic Pricing extension — it makes these smart discounts (and plenty of others!) possible, saving you time while making you money.

Have any questions about smart holiday discounts? Or any ideas of your own to pitch in? We’d love to hear from you — comment away!