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How to leverage online flash sale events for your business

In the past month, we’ve seen a number of large-scale online flash sale events take place both domestically and internationally. 

Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the US brought in $2.72 billion and $3.07 billion in sales respectively, while Singles Day in China saw Chinese consumers splash out a massive USD$14 billion  in a single day this November.

At home, Click Frenzy, one of Australia’s biggest flash sales was all about opportunity. In the much anticipated online shopping event, some 340 retailers participated with many seeing it as an opportunity to reach new customers, maximise sales and clear old stock. With 4.3 million shoppers attending the sale since 2012, this year’s event was estimated to generate more than $200 million for the Australian retail industry in just 24 hours.

While Singles Day has yet to make its way into the Australian retail scene, an increasing number of Aussie online businesses are taking part in the annual US flash sales – and with good reason. These events provide a great opportunity for retailers to turn one-time buyers into a repeat and loyal customers — by harnessing valuable customer insights.

As we move into 2016, here are a few quick tips to help retailers leverage future online sales events with maximum impact:

1. Be clear on your goal

Be clear on your goal from the outset. Are you looking to clear out old stock, or do you hope to achieve a revenue spike? Remember, there is always the possibility that a big sale with deep discounts will wind up decreasing perceived brand worth, so it’s important to weigh all your options and ensure you are clear on what you are trying to get out of your big e-commerce day for your brand.

2. Capture your sale-attracted customers

Sale-attracted consumers are price driven and can be difficult to retain. Balance the cost of acquisition, which are the big discounts compared to the cost of keeping them around. Is it possible to predict if they’ll ever make a full-price purchase? Is it worth sending the group a follow-up email to pull them back in? Or do you keep them in your database as ‘sales only’ customers and count on them to help you generate a healthy revenue spike when you need it?

If you do it right however, price-motivated customers can be turned into ‘sticky’ customers – with the use of personalisation and the right context.

3. Leverage customer data for personalisation and customer retention

Once you’ve captured the flood of sale-driven consumers, the next challenge is turning these customers into loyal shoppers. Our research reveals close to 60% of consumers say they feel irritated when they receive irrelevant marketing communications, while 42% of consumers find that special treatment entices them back to purchase another item. What this means is a one-size-fits-all mass marketing approach is no longer sufficient and that consumers do respond to personalisation. How do you that? Through collecting and leveraging customer data – what are your customers purchasing, when, using what devices? There’s nothing better than being treated like a VIP. Whether it’s getting first pick of the summer sale, or receiving a free delivery coupon, experiment and find out what works for your customer base.

The good news is you don’t have to know all your customers personally to make personalisation feel authentic. Marketing technology can do that for you. Customer insights technology tells you how often your customers buy from your site, or what they’ve purchased. This information can help retailers and brands automate relevant messaging to their shoppers.

4. Deliver a seamless experience

Knowing which type of channels and devices customers use can help you tailor the experience to make it easier for customers to find and purchase your product. Last year’s Click Frenzy event saw more than 40% all traffic originating from mobile devices. Actual sales from both smartphones and tablets made up 20.4% of total sales in 2014, with nearly two-thirds of those sales coming from tablets. This year’s results still remain to be seen, but it’s likely mobile continues to be the trend to watch. If you’re looking to take part in next year’s Click Frenzy, it’s worth ensuring your mobile site is up-to-scratch. Similarly, delivering a seamless experience across multiple devices is also crucial to ensuring you retain the customers you captured from a short-term sales event for the long-term.

Personalisation is all about getting the right offer to your customer based on what you have discovered about their needs. What are their tastes? What is their style? What are the upcoming events in their life? Retailers should use all of this information to help customers find, browse and engage in their brand for future sale events.

About the author:

This article was written by Stuart Barker, Managing Director, Hong Kong and Australia, Emarsys, the B2C marketing cloud.

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