13 Promotion Ideas for Retail & eCommerce in 2019 [with examples]

Promotion ideas for retail & ecommerce

The shopping holiday in 2019 isn’t over yet. While many businesses have seen a big Cyber Week sales, there are still many shoppers looking to buy gifts in time for the Christmas holiday or take advantage of the continued year-end promotions.

Promotions are a great way to see a short-term boost in sales by offer discounts but it can also help you increase your Customer Lifetime Value when used creatively and strategically.

The following are sales promotion ideas, tips, and examples you can use to create your own custom promotion. These are especially useful for retail and eCommerce brands, and they can be altered to fit your own brand character and buyer persona.

1. a Discount

Considering your current buyer behavior and their typical Average Order Value, carefully select your minimum value to offer your discount. Every dollar you discount is a direct impact to your profit.

A couple of its variations include:

  • Select certain product lines
  • Target certain customer segments instead of a site-wide general discount

A great example of segmentation is Kohl’s offer to discount 20% when you spend over $100.

They would offer 15% to all customers using their holiday discount code but give an extra 5% off to customers spending over $100.

kohl's discount promotion idea example

2. “Buy 1 Get 1”, “Buy 1 Get 1 50% off”, “2 for 1”

Need products that are obsolete or out-of-season? This type of promotion, sometimes referred to as BOGO, is a great way to sell through some inventory that may need some extra incentive to purchase.

3. Free shipping

Free shipping is widely offered but it can be a great tool for your brand. High shipping rates or lead times can negatively affect your digital sales.

Cyber Week in 2019 saw a whooping 90% of total orders qualify for a free shipping with an Average Order Value of $99.

Give your shoppers an incentive to buy more at once to qualify for a free shipping.

Or if you’re Macy’s and offering a no-minimum free shipping, at least make it a short, limited-time offer.

macy's free shipping promotion idea example

4. Flash Sale

A short, limited-time offer doesn’t only apply to free shipping. You can apply to any promotion you’re offering.

The duration of flash sale can range from a few hours to 24 or 48 hours. You want to limit this duration to create a sense of urgency so it gives shoppers a reason to buy now.

Here’s a perfect example of dollar car rental’s flash sale.

Dollar rental car flash sale promotion idea example

5. Special bundle

Take advantage of the gifting season and offer your top sellers and its complimentary items together in a bundle with a holiday theme.

You can look at items that are frequently purchased together or closely related items.

You don’t necessarily need to discount a bundle but that would depend on how much you want to move that inventory.

6. Limited edition

Celebrating your company anniversary, achievement, or any holiday?

What better way to celebrate than a limited-edition limited-time only products that are available only from your store?

You can offer a unique product offered only during this time or add a slight twist to your top sellers to only your valuable customers.

Take a look at what PS4 did to celebrate selling 500 million systems. It’s the same PS4 system with a slight change and, of course, a cool name to it.

PS4 500m limited edition promotion idea example

7. Sweepstakes

Sweepstakes, or giveaways, are a way to give something for free in exchange for something you want them to do.

For example, you can ask participants to share your Facebook page, share your post with a hashtag, or submit a form for a chance to win something. The more compelling your offer is, the more submissions you receive.

Also, it’s not only about a compelling offer but how much you promote. It won’t promote itself so be sure to spend enough time with a promotion strategy to get the word out so more people can see it. \

8. Gift options

Gift options include either gift wrapping, gift messaging, or any other value-add service that would provide the convenience of gifting to your customers.

Think this might cost you too much to offer?

This type of service doesn’t need to be free as long as you’re reasonable.

9. Free samples

If you’re in a consumable market, such as beauty industry, many customers want to try a sample before committing to a purchase.

Even if you already offer samples with every order, you can send a few extra samples if an order meets a certain threshold.

The ideal approach is to personalize this offer as well and offer samples that are relevant to that specific customer.

If you can offer to, perhaps consider sending free samples to prospects that are not yet placing an order.

When doing so, following up on these prospects is key.

Use marketing automation using platforms like ActiveCampaign to stay in touch and remind them of your brand, creating a funnel that ultimately leads to a sale.

10. Free gift with purchase

I don’t need to remind you that everyone likes free.

Offering a free gift with purchase is a great way to give your customers an incentive to buy from you instead of your competitor.

A great example is Lancome’s free gift promotion through Macy’s.

lancome free gift with purchase promotion idea example

Sending a free gift can be used a way to give your customers to try your higher-margin items with no commitment. It’s almost like sending them free samples but it sounds more exclusive.

The next few promotion ideas are to great when you want your customers to come back to your site or store.

The more they come back, the more chance they have of spending with you!

11. In-store cash back

Instead of discounting 20% which is a direct impact to your profit, offer a cash back over a minimum that can be redeemed at your site or store.

This isn’t an impact to your profit because customers will have to come back to spend with you again to redeem that offer.

A great example is Kohl’s Cash. You spend $50 and get $10 back in Kohl’s Cash. They also limit when the cash-back can be redeemed to make sure they boost their sales during a specific time frame. In this case, they want their year-end to show strong numbers in sales.

Kohl's cash back promotion idea example

12. Get more points

If you offer rewards points for purchases on your site or sold through a loyalty program, giving them 2x, 3x, or more point value for their purchase during a specified time period is another great way to give loyal customers incentives without giving much away.

Typically reward points are only redeemable at their own website or store so it gets traffic back to the brand.

Take a look at this promotion example from Smith’s on their gift card purchases. They’ll give 4x points when you purchase a gift card.

Smith's loyalty program idea example

13. Discount or bonus cash on your store gift card

Would it be great if your loyal customers buy gift cards to share with others and bring new customers to your store?

This type of referral is not only less expensive for your marketing budget but it’s also known that customers that were referred are more loyal. So why not help your customers gift with a discount?

Gift cards aren’t just for gifting. You can let your own customers take advantage of this type of discount before they’re ready to buy.

You get to collect revenue earlier and still keep that customer to come back at a later time.

Here’s an example of Express offering a $10 bonus reward (remember you want your customers to come back to spend the reward?) with a $50 gift card purchase.

Express bonus reward promotion idea

Final Tips!

We try to come up with a promotion each year for different occasions and holidays.

It’s important not to fatigue our customers with constant same offers over and over again. However, it’s okay to have scheduled sale events your customers can expect, like Victoria Secret’s semi-annual sale in June and December each year.

A promotion is great for your business to boost your holiday sales, bring customers back to the store to redeem offers, encourage customers to advertise your brand on social media, and have them refer new customers. It’s not only about giving discounts!

Be sure to test your promotion ideas with different segments of customers to help you understand who you should be offering promotions to. Offering a site-wide discount may not be necessary.

And lastly, give yourself enough time to promote your promotions! This is one of the biggest waste of your promotion efforts- not promoting enough.

Use your current customers and prospects using emails and target new prospects using social media and other advertising to let them know it’s coming.

What have you tried so far and what will you try? Any new ideas for this year end? Comment your plans below!

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