As a retail brand, great value for money is always a priority, and that includes thinking about how we manage promotions and sales. When I started out in retail, sales happened two or three times a year – a summer sale in July/August, a winter sale immediately after Christmas, and maybe a short spring sale over Easter to make room for all the lovely summer stock coming in. They were genuine events, to be anticipated by both retailers and customers alike.
Now, of course, things have changed – the retail landscape is more competitive, particularly in fashion and clothing, which means everyone is trying to out-bargain everyone else. For the customer, it can seem like some brands are almost permanently on sale, which begs the question of whether you’re really getting a bargain or whether this is all just clever and manipulative marketing. And of course there’s always the possibility that the beautiful dress you want will be cheaper next week – guaranteed to make your teeth grind!
For the retailer, appearing to be permanently on sale does nothing to support your brand, other than make you appear (at best) disorganised or (at worst) desperate.
We’ve only been trading for a couple of months, and we’ve just launched our first summer sale. Like us it’s only small, but whilst we’ve been planning it we thought we’d share our dos and don’ts of having a sale.
- DO make sure you have a clear plan that allows you to run a worthwhile (and genuine) summer and winter sale for a limited window only
- DO be consistent with your messaging and make sure your headlines and imagery support your brand values – sale messages can often feel cheap and disruptive, but it doesn’t have to be that way
- DO offer customers good value seasonal offers but always provide excellent customer service all year round
- DO offer targeted sales – the weather is often to blame for excess stock and for many retailers this wet summer will have been a disaster! By offering great bargains on summer shorts and swimwear, for example, our customers can take advantage of some great last minute holiday offers (or keep their fingers cross for a scorching July/August)
- DO hold your nerve and think about your sale event carefully, plan and execute well – panic promotions are often the first step to compromising your brand
- DO think about running different types of sale events to stand out from the crowd – secret VIP sales, competitions, 3 for 2, free P&P offers for example. Think differently and be creative – don’t just follow the pack. Be a leader and stand out!
- DO come out of sale at the time you planned, and make sure you have plenty of new and exciting new ranges to talk about
- DON’T always have items on sale – it may be tough out there, but your brand will quickly look distressed and it could also look like your brand is in trouble
- DON’T get sucked into a sale culture – it’s like a drug for many retailers and you have to know when to start and when to stop!
- DON’T forget your headlines – so many brands let themselves down with brash, shouty headlines – e.g. 50% off with another 15% off on top!
- DON’T just think short term and be reactive – think about your long term strategy, and building relationships with your customers
- DON’T drag your sale out longer than planned, it will not only lose momentum, but you also risk alienating customers by not being honest about when it’s due to finish. A final week should be a final week!
So that’s our thoughts – tell us what frustrates you about sale shopping in the sale, and what you’d like to see more of from retailers like IndiaCoco.