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Flash Sale: Guide You Need to Sell Out Every Time [+Examples]

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Do you believe that flash sales are complex marketing techniques that give minimal results?

We’re here to separate fact from fiction.

Well-planned and executed flash sales campaigns can give ecommerce store owners stellar results in the form of sales and brand reputation.

But how to run a successful flash sale? 

Read on as we cover the different types of flash sales, their pros and cons, the best flash sale strategy, and flash sale examples.

Create flash sales in a few clicks with Omnisend.

What’s a flash sale?

A flash sale gives a shoppers limited-time offers to purchase items at significant discounts. These discounts range from 20% to 90%, making flash sales a popular way for shoppers to save money on products they want.

Here are the different types of flash sales:

  • Tiered flash sale: In this type of flash sale, discounts are offered in tiers based on the order value. For example, $10 off on $100 orders, $20 off on $200 orders.
  • Holiday flash sale: Specifically run before and during holidays or festive seasons, these flash sales attract customers looking for deals during these periods. 
  • Mystery flash sale: This type of flash sale evokes curiosity by keeping specific products or discounts a secret until the big reveal or sale.  
  • Product category-specific flash sale: These sales offer discounts on specific product categories, making them relevant to targeted customer groups. 
  • “Discount on a single brand” flash sale:  These flash sales target brand-conscious shoppers by offering exclusive discounts on products from a single brand.




 
“Flash sales are limited-time offers with discounts ranging from 20% to 90%.  Research consistently shows that the scarcity factor in flash sales encourages impulse buying behaviors and enhances the shopping experience. Flash sales increase your customer base, boost sales, and bring more revenue to your online store.”

Bernard Meyer, Senior Director of Content and Creative

Flash sales: Pros and cons

Flash sales can be very effective, but it’s important to weigh up their pros and cons before deciding to run one—they may not be right for your business, or your long-term goals.

ProsCons
Drive higher sales in a limited period.If not planned properly, steep discounts can reduce profit margins.
Get rid of old stock or excess inventory.Frequent flash sales can affect regular sales and your brand’s credibility.
A great way to create FOMO and encourage repeat buys.Limited stock and high demand can lead to a poor shopping experience.
Attract new shoppers to expand your customer base.Some brands prefer the exclusivity of never offering discounts.
Enhance brand visibility and build a positive association with the brand.

When to do a flash sale?

Timing is everything when it comes to flash sales. Your specific industry can influence the best times to run a flash sale, but here are some tips for popular timing:

  • Before the holidays: The holidays are a shopping season, and everyone is expecting sales and deals. Running flash sales before the peak holiday season can help you beat the competition, and win new customers. With more than 50% of U.S. consumers planning to start holiday shopping in October, this is a good opportunity to test a flash sale.
  • After the holidays: According to the National Retail Federation’s survey, 70% of shoppers want to continue shopping after December 25th. Capitalize on this trend by running a new flash sale campaign.
  • Non-holiday opportunities: One consideration with sales around the holidays is you’re always competing with lots of other businesses. You can counter this by running flash sales at other times—such as if you’re trying to clear some excess stock, want to celebrate the founder’s birthday, or there’s a particular day that’s relevant to your industry or brand mission. If your business focuses on sustainability, Earth Day could be such an opportunity.

Related:

2023 Email marketing holiday calendar

A flash sale strategy to sell out every time

If you’re looking for more information on how to do a flash sale, read on. We have listed five steps that can help you achieve the best results. They are:

  • Prepare in advance
  • Set the right price
  • Promote the sale beforehand
  • Double check inventory and shipping
  • Get your customer support ready

Prepare in advance

Planning is crucial for a successful flash sale. Allocate sufficient time for preparation, including the following steps:

  • Define the goal: The first step is to understand the goal behind running your flash sale campaign. 

This could be clearing out excess inventory, increasing sales of specific products, attracting new customers or retargeting inactive ones, or boosting customer loyalty.

  • Choose the products: The next step is to select the right products for your campaign based on your goals. 

Here are a few tips that can help:

  • If you want to clear stock, offer products that have been in inventory for a while to make room for new merchandise.
  • Offer attractive discounts for your signature products to boost brand awareness.
  • Convert browsers to buyers by promoting products with high customer interest and views but low conversion rates.
  • Showcase newly launched or most popular items to entice existing customers and build momentum.

  • Decide on the timing: Flash sales run anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Consider factors such as peak shopping seasons, holidays, or your target audience’s buying behavior to decide the timing. One thing to bear in mind is that if you prolong flash sales, it can kill the sense of urgency.

  • Segment your audience: Knowing who you are targeting for each flash sale is important. Consider demographics, past purchases, engagement level, and interests to create audience segments

Set the right price

Your discount pricing strategy for a flash sale campaign should align with your overall business goals. At the same time, the discount should be attractive enough to entice customers. 

Here are some tips that can help balance the advantages and disadvantages of discounts:

  • Set the price a little above the lowest possible price or the discounts you typically offer for Cyber Monday or Black Friday.
  • If you have unique or luxury products and do not run sales often, a 10% discount can be effective.
  • If you sell affordable products, consider lower discounts such as 15%. 
  • Offer tiered discounts (e.g. early birds get 50%, and the rest get 30%).
  • Consider offering a steeper discount if the competition is high in your niche.

Promote the sale beforehand

Here are some marketing channels and tactics you can use to create hype and drive conversions for your upcoming flash sale.

  • Social media: There are several ways to use social media to promote your flash sales. For instance, you can announce the sale a few days before to create buzz. Then, on the last day before and the day of the sale, post engaging content, such as sneak peeks, countdown graphics, and teaser videos. You could alternatively run a competition to raise awareness, or, if you have the budget, run a paid ads campaign to promote the sale.
  • Automated sales emails: Omnisend’s research shows automated email marketing leads to 83.4% higher open rates than campaign emails. A great way to promote your flash sales is to send automated promotion emails with a marketing automation platform.  
  • Website popups: Use eye-catching flash sale popups and persuasive copy highlighting the benefits or discounts.
  • Website bar with a countdown: Display a countdown timer on your website using a bar or banner.  
  • Dedicated landing page: Create a dedicated landing page and include detailed information about the sale, then direct your social media traffic to it.

Double check inventory and shipping

Given that the flash sale seasons are among the busiest, it’s important to start planning months ahead. After all, you don’t want a lack of stock or shipping failures to lead to poor customer experience and hamper your brand’s credibility.

Here are some ways to prevent these failures:

  • Analyze historical data: Use sales data and customer trends to estimate the number of products you need for the flash sale.  
  • Use inventory management tools: Tools that help real-time tracking of stock levels, so you can monitor inventory and set alerts for low stock levels.
  • Maintain buffer stock: Maintain a safety stock level to account for unexpected spikes in demand. 
  • Ensure your shipping and returns policies are clear: Provide clear information on your site about the estimated delivery times, cost, order tracking, and terms for returns and refunds.

Related:
How to communicate shipping delays

Get your customer support ready

Considering how important it is to maintain the quality of customer support, you need to prepare your support team for each flash sale.

Here are some tips to help you:

  • Set up a shared inbox: Use a shared inbox system that allows agents to collaborate and provide timely responses to customer queries.
  • Install a live chat feature: Live chat functionality on your website can provide instant assistance to customers during the flash sale. 
  • Optimize automated transactional emails: Ensure that your automated transactional emails (order confirmation, shipping notification, etc.) are set up correctly and are ready to be triggered during the flash sale. 
  • Train your support team: Train your customer support team to familiarize them with the flash sale details.
  • Create a knowledge base: A comprehensive knowledge base that addresses common queries related to the flash sale can help reduce the burden on your support team.

Related:

Order confirmation emails: best practices and examples

Order cancellation emails: a guide for ecommerce success

Flash sale examples

Let’s take a look at some flash sale email examples you can draw inspiration from:

  • Kerrits: Seasonal footwear flash sale
  • B-Wear: Flash sale + BOGO
  • SEE Eyewear: A two day online-only flash sale
  • PRESS Healthfoods: A site-wide flash sale for replenishable items
  • Valerie Confections: A Father’s Day flash sale 

Kerrits: Seasonal footwear flash sale

This flash sale email from Kerrits creates urgency, highlights the exact price drop for specific products, and uses clear CTAs for each product to encourage action.

Other elements in this email’s favor are seasonal relevance, clear messaging, and target audience appeal.

Flash sale conditions:

1. Limited time only.

2. Discount applies only on selected seasonal footwear products.

Kerrits email example

Kerrits transformed its email marketing using Omnisend’s smart features, driving 23% of sales from automated messages while making every campaign count.


Read more about Kerrits’ success here: How Kerrits increased its revenue-per-email by 50% with Omnisend

B-Wear: Flash sale + BOGO

This flash sale email subject line informs readers that there is a ‘flash sale’ and a buy one get one free on offer. 

The body highlights that all decorated apparel is free for 48 hours only. This helps create a sense of urgency and encourages immediate action from the recipients.

Interestingly, the email not only offers a ‘buy one get one free’ deal for St. Patrick’s but promotes its upcoming Easter collections sale on Facebook.  A clutter-free layout, multiple clear CTAs, and a sneak peek of the next promotion work well together in this flash sale email.

Flash sale conditions:

  1. Flash sale for up to 48 hours only.
  2. Online only.
  3. Decorated apparel only.
  4. Buy one get one free on new arrivals.
Flash sale email

B-Wear Sportswear achieved a 66% conversion rate for its automated email series by using Omnisend. 


Read more about B-Wear’s omnichannel success here:
How B-Wear Sportswear shapes marketing strategy with data

SEE Eyewear: Two-day online-only flash sale

This flash sale’s email subject line “Two-day online-only flash sale” creates a sense of urgency and captures the recipient’s attention by highlighting the limited-time nature of the sale.

Once the reader opens the email, they can immediately see the discount of 30% off online purchases.

By repeating the limited-time offer in the body (Two days only!), the email strengthens the FOMO. The words “limited quantities” and “maximum exclusivity” further amplify the deal’s value to drive action.

Flash sale conditions:

  • Online only.
  • Valid on full-price SEE optical and sun frames only.
  • Not valid on previous or in-process orders.
  • Cannot be combined with other offers or services offered by the brand (e.g. insurance).
SEE eyewear email

PRESS Healthfoods: A site wide flash sale on replenishable items

Some of the elements that can contribute to the success of a flash sale email are attractive visuals, a great discount, and a timely offer. These all work for this flash sales email from Press Healthfoods.

The flash sales email is sent at the start of the spring season, the perfect time to promote its juice and soup cleanses. Apart from beautiful product visuals, the email body clearly shows the exact discount for each product category. 

The brand adds credibility and social proof by including a Trustpilot rating and mentioning that it is a plastic-neutral company.  

Flash sale conditions:

  1. Limited period only
  2. 20% off sitewide
limited time offer email

Valerie Confections: a Father’s Day flash sale 

This flash sale email marketing example from Valerie Confections has a short, informative subject line explaining that it is a Father’s Day flash sale. 

By using attractive visuals and a “today only” discount, the email does an excellent job of enticing readers to convert into buyers.

Another thing it gets right is that it goes beyond its Fancy Father assortment to promote its Father’s Day collection and gifts for the “new graduate.”

Flash sale conditions:

  1. 15% off today only
  2. Discount code valid for purchases over $65
flash sale email by Valerie confections

Summary

Flash sales are time-limited promotions that offer customers attractive discounts.

The key to getting the best results out of your flash sales campaign lies in planning ahead. This includes deciding on the timing, planning your inventory, optimizing customer support, and effective marketing. You can increase sales without boosting ad costs when you get these elements right.

Armed with this information and the examples above, you’re ready to run your own sales and reap the benefits.

Supercharge your flash sales with Omnisend.
Richard White
Article by
Richard White

Richard is a Content Marketing Manager at Omnisend. An avid writer, he's said to have been born holding a pencil. Fascinated by all things handmade, if he's not reading or writing he can often be found practicing leathercraft.


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