When many people think “eCommerce promotion,” they think “discount.”
But promotions don’t always have to mean discounts. And some promotions don’t have to result in any price change at all.
Let me share with you a few eCommerce promotion ideas that don’t require discounting your products:
1. Buy One Get One
Surely you’ve heard of this one before. The Buy One Get One (BOGO) is probably one of the most popular eCommerce promotions ideas out there.
But if you aren’t careful, BOGO can eat into your profit margins.
So how can you make it work? You might want to only offer BOGO offers to your loyal customers who have spent a good deal already. You should also only offer BOGO on your store items with the highest profit margins or your lowest priced products.
Or, rather than offering a free product after just one purchase, you could offer it after the customer purchases several (ie: Buy Two Get One Free).
There are various types of Buy One Get One promotions that you can run:
- Buy One, Get One Half Price (BOGOH)
- Buy One, Get Free Samples
- Buy Three for the Price of Two
- Buy One from Category A, Get One from Category B
- Buy Item A and get % off Item B
And the list goes on…
Have fun with it! But make sure that you put some real thought into this before you start offering BOGO to all of your customers. Choose the products and the BOGO offer that will result in the highest profit for your business.
2. Bundled Products
Let’s say you’re shopping for rock climbing equipment and you have the option to buy:
A harness that comes with a carabiner, belay device, chalk bag and chalk (for a total price of $100)…
Or you can buy everything individually:
- A harness ($60.00)
- Belay device ($25.00)
- Chalk bag ($10.00)
- Chalk ($5.00)
Even though the price comes out to be the same for both options, the first one sounds like a better deal, doesn’t it?
It also eases the decision-making process. Instead of having to think about everything that you need to start climbing, it’s all chosen for you.
If you’re only offered the second option (to buy everything individually), you might end up buying just the harness and the belay device. But if you’re offered the bundle as well, then there’s a good chance that you’ll go with that instead and buy everything.
Am I right?
Product bundling is where different but complementary items are packaged together, often (but not always) at a slightly lower price than if they are all sold individually. It not only helps make decision-making a bit easier for your customers, but it’s also a very effective way of increasing average order value.
Note that your shoppers will be even more inclined to purchase product bundles when they know how much they are saving, so make sure that you advertise this, like The Honest Company does:
Also make sure that you provide your customers with choices. If you only offer product bundles, without giving your customers the option to buy the products individually, then this could turn your customers off and actually decrease your conversions.
3. Spend $X+, Get X
It’s understandable that you probably wouldn’t want to offer your customer a discount when they only spend $5 or $10. But if they spend a significant amount, then it makes sense to reward them for that, right?
A good tactic is to look at your average order value and reward your customers when they spend over that amount. For example, if your average order value is $80, then you could reward your customers with something when they spend $100. You could offer them free shipping, money off of their purchase, free credit, samples or a free gift.
The preppy clothing retailer, Vineyard Vines, is currently running a very practical, multitiered promotion, with the free gifts dependent upon how much the shopper spends.
Having a multitiered promotion like this is smart because it encourages your customers to spend more and more. Surely the ones who spend a lot will also appreciate being rewarded.
4. Subscription Onboarding Discount or Freebie
Subscriptions can be a valuable source of recurring income. In Ecommerce Evolved: The Essential Playbook To Build, Grow & Scale A Successful Ecommerce Business, Tanner Larsson goes so far as to argue that every business should have some source of recurring income.
But good news here: You don’t have to sell a replenishable product to offer subscriptions. For example, you could sell a subscription of digital products or start a highly valuable monthly (or weekly) newsletter.
In order to get your customers on board, you might want to offer them a special price for the first month. For instance, if your subscription normally costs $39 per month, you could offer the first month for $1, just to get your customers to sign up.
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking: But isn’t that a discount?
Well…yes. But only for the first month. Because here’s the thing: People are often scared off by recurring billing cycles, so you might have to lower your price that first month in order to prove to your customers that your product is worth it and get them to stay for the long haul.
Alternatively, you could offer your customers a freebie for signing up, like the cosmetic subscription service, Birchbox, does:
Whatever you offer, the good news is that once you do get your customers to sign up, there’s a good chance that they will stick around for at least a few months.
5. Contest or Giveaway
Throwing a contest or a giveway can be a great way to get your current customers engaged with your brand, acquire new customers and raise brand awareness.
Take a look at what the men’s grooming company, BeardBrand, did. During Movember, men around the world grow beards to raise awareness for male issues like prostate cancer, testicular cancer and male suicide. Beardbrand took advantage of this and held a contest during Movember, where they gave away one product bundle (worth $560) each day for seven days.
The campaign was wildly successful; right after it started, BeardBrand made 4x their average daily sales, and success continued even after the campaign finished.
When it comes to your contest or giveaway, capitalize on the holidays or certain events, like BeardBrand did.
You could also throw a user-generated content campaign and give away a free product to the winner.
Get creative! The possibilities truly are endless. The key is to come up with a prize that your customers will truly value and get excited about….And then promote your contest like crazy.
6. Free Plus Shipping
I used to buy business cards from VistaPrint. The reason I went with VistaPrint and not another service was because they were free. Well, they charged nearly $20 for shipping…but they were still free!
Think about it…what sounds like a better deal to you:
- 500 free business cards with a $17 shipping cost
- 500 business cards for $14 with a $3 shipping cost
If you think that the first option is more convincing, then you’re not alone. According to psychologist, Dan Ariely, free has a very powerful effect on people. Ariely claims that, “most transactions have an upside and a downside, but when something is FREE! We forget the downside. FREE! Gives us such an emotional charge that we perceive what is being offered as immensely more valuable than it really is.”
Free plus shipping is where you make one of your products free and then add the cost of what you would normally charge for that item to the shipping cost. People see that they are getting something FREE and get excited. So excited that they often don’t think about the fact that they are still paying the same amount in the end with a higher shipping cost.
Granted, this isn’t something that you can pull off with every product. Free plus shipping tends to work best with cheaper items (that you would otherwise sell for less than $20). If you have a product that normally costs $100 and you give away your product for “free” but then charge $110 for shipping, then your customers might feel a bit duped.
One last thing you’ll want to be mindful of is the fact that your customers might not believe the offer right away. They might think it’s too good to be true, especially if they don’t trust you yet. So you’ll probably want to explain to them (preferably over video) why you are offering them a free product and how you are able to do it.
Summing Up: 6 eCommerce Promotion Ideas That Don’t Require Discounting Your Products
It might be tempting to just jump on the discounting bandwagon, especially during the holidays when you probably feel like everyone else is doing it.
If you do decide to discount your products, know that there are likely to be some repercussions if you don’t do it right.
The good news is that you don’t have to discount your products to run a successful promotion. Hopefully this blog post has provided you with some helpful eCommerce promotion ideas.
Need a little recap? Here’s what they are:
- Buy One Get One
- Bundled Products
- Spend $X, Get X
- Subscription Onboarding Discount or Freebie
- Contest or Giveaway
- Free Plus Shipping
Experiment with a few of them or all of them to find out which results in the most sales for your eCommerce store.