50% of participants in Finch’s Recharge Your Approach to eCommerce Promotions webinar were only ok or dissatisfied with their promotions. That leaves room for new eCommerce promotion ideas.

And as I covered in my last post, How to Use Buyer Psychology in eCommerce Promotions, a great way to pull off more effective promotions is to understand the psychology of buyers’ thinking.

Once you’ve got that down, hone in on some of the following eCommerce promotion ideas that include the standard price discounts and some others you may not be using in your mix today.

Why eCommerce Promotions Ideas Matter

COVID-19 interrupted life around the globe. It also propelled online shopping into the future. TechCrunch reported last August that Covid advanced consumers’ shift from physical stores to eCommerce by about five years.

There’s no indication that the popularity of eCommerce will slow down either. Consumers and retailers — even many traditional brick-and-mortar stores — around the globe are shifting more focus to online shopping. And that’s with an already estimated 24 million eCommerce companies globally.

Also, online shoppers aren’t terribly loyal. 53% of US eCommerce shoppers have no problem trying new and upcoming brands and products. That’s not surprising with the proliferation of online price comparison engines and the ease of shopping on a phone or computer compared to driving to a physical location.

Bottom line: There’s a lot of competition for online shoppers’ attention and spend. And those shoppers are willing to shop around.

The competition and lack of loyalty make promotions an ideal way to cut through the clutter, bring in new shoppers, and retarget existing customers. And there are a lot of different ecommerce promotion ideas and options.

The Standard Price Discount eCommerce Promotions

Price discounts are among the most popular — and common — types of promotion that online and offline brands run. Who doesn’t love to save money?

A few of the “classic” price discounts include the following.

Special Offers

With special offers, you let customers save money on a specific item, collection, volume, or product category. Special offers are helpful to attract new customers. Because special offers are limited, they help play on the buyer psychology of exclusivity where the shopper thinks he/she is part of a unique group.

An example of a special offer is 20% off select items (rather than all items). You can even go further and limit the offer to a select group of customers for a limited time.

Percent-Off Discounts

With percent discounts, you give customers a percentage-based saving, such as 5%, 10%, 25%. You can also offer a significant percentage off, such as 50%+ to help liquidate merchandise that’s old or isn’t moving.

Clearance Sales

The difference between a percent-off discount and a clearance sale is that clearanced items (or styles or colors) are never available again. According to “The Use of Clearance Pricing as a Price Signal,” consumers are drawn to clearance sales because of:

  1. The fear that the product will be discontinued before they purchase it — the psychology of the fear of missing out (FOMO).
  2. The belief that others will get to the item first — the psychology of FOMO.
  3. The perceived value of the product.
  4. The belief that they’re saving money.
  5. An escalation of commitment due to time spent searching for sales.

Coupon or Promo Code

With a coupon or promo code shoppers redeem an offer at checkout. The offer can be a percent off or dollars off for one item or the entire order, free shipping, or a free item in exchange for a purchase.

Promo codes let you control your offer and can be a great way to create perceived value.

Flash Sales or Daily Deals

This form of promotion uses short-term offers that play on the psychological principle of scarcity. The time and/or quantity is limited — often to a single day — which often means the discounts are higher or more significant than run-of-the-mill promotions. The idea is to drive immediate purchases and take advantage of impulse buying.

Whichever price discount(s) you choose, mix it up. When you run the same discounts all the time, you can condition customers to wait for the next discount before they’ll buy. Also in the interest of mixing it up, consider going beyond just discount promotions.

eCommerce Promotion Ideas that Go Beyond a Better Price

Price promotions are great and have their place. But not every promotion has to be a price or percent-off discount. There are other ways you can capture shoppers’ attention.

So as you plan your promotions, consider these alternative eCommerce promotion ideas.

Volume Discounts

Volume discounts reward users with a form of a discount, but require the consumer purchase more than a single item to get the “discount.” They’re not presented as a discount.

Types of volume discounts include:

BOGO (Buy one, get one) discounts encourage added sales of a product by offering customers another item of the same type, free or for a reduced price or percentage off, with the purchase of one item.

Recently, consumers are favoring buy-one-get-one (BOGO) promotions over dollars-off and percent-off discount promotions.

BOGO offers can span product lines or brands. For example, buy one pair of “brand product” jeans and get a second pair of “brand product” jeans at half off.

Free samples or free gifts give consumers a sample or free gift with purchase and can be a great way to:

  • Increase average order size
  • Create awareness of new products or slowly adopted products
  • Get rid of product that isn’t moving

You can set a minimum purchase requirement or a volume requirement for a free sample or gift. For example, offer a gift with orders of $200 or more.

An example of a gift offer is giving your shopper a free gift card with purchase. Not only does it reward the shopper and increase perceived value, it also encourages repeat shopping.

Thresholds discounts and offers give discounts or offers that go up with the amount of spend — the more you buy, the more you save or get (working with percent-based discounts, free gifts, free shipping, etc.). For example: spend $50, get 5% off; spend $100, get 10% off; spend $200, get 25% off.

Product bundles offer a set of predefined products for a fixed price. For example a certain camera, tripod, and memory card for $750. You can even combine a popular product with a less popular product to create a bundle.

Service Discounts

Service discounts are essentially the same as a price discount but are communicated as an added “service” or value rather than a price or percentage discount. This creates a perception of value without hurting the perception of quality.

Types of service discounts include:

Free shipping is free shipping typically made available with a minimum purchase price. Think of Amazon.com’s free shipping on eligible products shipped from Amazon when customers spend at least $25.

Free shipping can be offered on a select product(s), category, or sitewide. It not only can increase your average order value, it creates reciprocity and perceived value. It also helps counteract that shipping costs are a major reason that shoppers abandon a shopping cart.

Free gift wrapping can be used as a service discount. If you offer free gift wrapping, show the value by including your normal price to drive home the value the customer is receiving.

Longer return windows give users more time to make returns. A stress-free return is a clear advantage for the buyer, especially during the holiday season. To have more time to decide on keeping a gift or holiday purchase with an even longer returns window is a service customers can appreciate.

No taxes, depending on your region or products, a no-tax offer can be a compelling form of savings and offer perceived value to your shoppers.

Loyalty Program-Based Rewards, Offers, and Discounts

A rewards or loyalty program is a great way to reward repeat customers with perceived value. It can also be a great way to attract new customers and increase average order size.

Product and Packaging-Based Offers and Exclusives

Depending on your business type (brand or reseller), product and packaging variations give you an opportunity to increase sales without using price discounts and can include:

Limited editions where you create a “new” product (even if that’s just new packaging for an existing product) with limited availability for a limited time. Limited editions play on the psychological patterns of exclusivity and scarcity. Manufacturers have a huge advantage with limited edition offers when they control their own products and packaging.

Personalization is a form of a limited edition offer that adds personalization to an item. For example, buy a set of towels before x date and get a free monogram on each towel.

Find out more about buyer psychology and how different verticals are managing their promotions in the on-demand Recharge Your Approach to eCommerce Promotions webinar.

Don’t Limit Yourself — Use Multiple Promotion Ideas Together

There’s nothing that says you have to stop at running a single promotion type. Think of the classic Black Friday sale that includes a percentage discount, special offers, and a promo code for free shipping — all for a limited time.

Whatever you do, get creative and test your offers to see which your target audience responds best to.

If you want help creating a growth strategy for your eCommerce business and managing and testing your paid advertising, Finch can help.

The Last “I’s” to Dot for Your eCommerce Promotions

Two last thoughts on eCommerce promotions.

One, when you run promos, always let your customers know why they’re getting a discount or offer. Tie your offer to an event, such as a holiday or season, such as Back to School, You can even discount items to help customers meet their New Years’ resolutions.

Internal events, such as a business anniversary or a new product launch are also good reasons to run a promotion.

Your goal by giving your “why” is to avoid conditioning your customers to expect discounts and essentially reinforce the psychology of scarcity and exclusivity.

And two increase your success with a simple three-step process for maximizing your promotions process.