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Boost Holiday Sales Without Slashing Prices

by Helen Hulskamp

November 7, 2023
Brand identity design, custom website, and copywriting for an e-commerce baby brand
Sugar House offers personalized gift sets.

Strategic Promotions for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday

This post was originally published by Wolf Craft in their PR-focused newsletter which is written specifically to help creative business owners get media coverage for their work and creations.

As the holiday season approaches, shoppers and ecommerce business owners are gearing up for the biggest shopping weekend of the year. While it is common practice for merchants to offer deep sitewide discounts, competing solely on price can lead to a race to the bottom. A race that many small, independent businesses can’t win against box stores and chains. Many of the creative founders who are our clients at Aeolidia are concerned that deep discounts are financially unsustainable while also devaluing their unique products. 

In this article, we explore alternative promotions and tactics that reward your best customers and boost revenue while maintaining your brand’s integrity. These offers emphasize the worth of your products by rewarding customers for larger purchases. To further show appreciation for your very best customers, give them early access to your holiday sales. You can even make any of these offers exclusively available to VIPs.

Bundles and gift sets

Simplified planner bundles
Simplified’s planner bundles include a multitude of options perfect for gifting.

If it is too late in the season to come up with a new product launch for the holidays, create bundles and sets. Curated gift sets are a boon for busy shoppers because they reduce decision-making. As a brand owner, you know best which products your customers like to purchase together and what looks good in a group. You can likely afford to offer a price break on the bundled product due to the higher order value.

Some tips for bundling:

  • Set the list price as the price of all the items if purchased separately and set the sale price as the price of the bundle. Your Shopify theme will then highlight the savings wherever the product is displayed.
  • Utilize an app such as Shopify Bundles to sync inventory between the bundle and the component SKUs.
  • On the product pages for individual items that are also part of a bundle, make sure to upsell the bundle and let shoppers know they can save by purchasing the item as part of a set.
  • If a price break simply isn’t feasible, make your bundle special in other ways by including special packaging or educational materials. Including a free virtual workshop or guide not only adds value for your customers, but also positions you as an authority in your industry.

Volume discounts

Sister Golden’s product pages include volume discounts and upsells.

There are some products that make sense to purchase in multiple quantities like greeting cards, socks, and wrapping paper. During the holidays, savvy shoppers stock up on their favorite gifts, from ornaments to puzzles. A lot of our go-to gifts are products designed by Aeolidia clients and other indie brands — see our past holiday gift guides and sign up for our newsletter to receive this year’s guide. Some tactics to consider:

  • A volume discount could be structured as Buy X Get Y Free, such as buy 2 puzzles and get a 3rd one for free.
  • Or it could be structured as Buy More Save More, such as buy 5 or more greeting cards and get 10% off.
  • You can even offer tiered discounts so that the percentage off increases the larger the quantity.
  • Offer mix-and-match discounts. For example, let customers select their own assortment of greeting cards or socks to meet the threshold.

Free gift with purchase

Entice customers with free gifts strategically chosen from your high-margin items. This promotion is one of our favorites. Everyone loves receiving a free gift, what more is there to say? Here are some ideas to make this promotion especially effective:

  • Display a progress bar to show customers how close they are to earning the reward.
  • Set up tiers based on order value to unlock additional or higher-value gifts.
  • Not sure what product to offer as a free gift? Give a free gift card and encourage return purchases.
  • Gift it forward by offering a donation to a cause that is meaningful to both you and your customers.

Post-purchase upsell

Once an order is secured and there’s a low chance of additional sales that day, use the order confirmation screen to present customers with the opportunity to add complementary items to their existing order at a discounted price. This exclusive offer, available for a short timeframe to recent buyers, can be more generous with discounts, as it’s a sale you wouldn’t have otherwise obtained. Some best practices:

  • Give customers easy options to accept or refuse offers without a hard sell.
  • Use a Shopify app that allows you to display consecutive offers, but limit it to two offers so the process isn’t tedious.
  • Present offers that are relevant to the items the customer has already purchased. Apps that use AI or machine learning can automate this process.
Little Apple Treats has upsells built into their shopping cart and their site includes post-purchase offers.

This holiday season, differentiate your ecommerce business by avoiding the downward spiral of deep discounting. Instead, implement strategic promotions that enhance the shopping experience for the customers you want to keep year-round, not the bargain hunters. By offering bundles, volume discounts, free gifts, and post-purchase offers, you create a win-win situation that rewards your best customers while increasing your revenue. Not only for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, these strategies can be used year-round to increase your website’s revenue per user while maintaining the value of your brand.

Additional resources for increasing your holiday sales

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