The practice of running flash sales has grown into a $2 billion business, and visits to the top five flash sales websites nearly doubled in 2012, according to comScore, Inc. “For retailers, flash sales can be an extremely effective tool in capturing consumers’ attention, getting them to their site and enticing them to buy not only flash items, but also full-price merchandise,” says Maria Haggerty, president of Dotcom Distribution, a provider of fulfillment and logistics solutions. Traditional retailers are also seeing success through flash sales and one to two hour, “power lunches.” Before running a flash sale, Haggerty recommends retailers plan ahead by considering several questions:
1) Do you have the inventory depth to run the sale? More than 45 percent of flash sale offers sell out faster than anticipated. This means retailers are driving customers to their stores only for them to find that the sale item is out-of-stock. A retailer’s logistics provider or department should have the ability to see and track inventory in real-time.
2) Did you select the right products to sell? Roughly 57 percent of flash sale buyers are women. Do you know who is frequenting your store for these deals? Tapping into similar insights can help retailers select the right product mix for their flash sale demographic.
3) Are you ready to ship the items? One of the top complaints from flash sale buyers is that their orders took too long to get to them, or that their products came in several shipments. If customers don’t get the goods in a timely manner and with transparent communication, they are unlikely to purchase from you again.
Flash deals are great for increasing sales and highlighting specific items, and often lead to full priced purchases. Retailers, whether online or traditional, must effectively plan and execute flash sales to gain and retain customers.