Small businesses owners may be no strangers to seasonal sales. From Black Friday to end of season discounts, there are countless opportunities to ride on the coattails of big events and hopefully, increase your revenue. But as we’ll cover in this guide, there are challenges for any business looking to give discounts to customers during a frenzied sales period.
Advantages of small business sales
If running a business during a busy sales period sounds tiring, rest assured there may be many potential advantages to consider.
- Attract new customers. Some customers might only shop for certain items once or twice a year when the sales are on. By offering discounts, you may be able to capitalise on the extra attention and retain these customers for the long-term.
- Clear your inventory. If you’re looking to clear your stock and offload some items, a time-limited discount could present an ideal opportunity to freshen your inventory.
- Enhance your reputation. If your sales strategy goes to plan and your customers are happy, you may have an opportunity to amplify your success story on social media and retain loyal customers. You could then retain these new customers through initiatives like a rewards scheme.
The biggest challenges when preparing for sales
While sales are a chance to attract new customers and boost cash flow, it may not be all sunshine and rainbows. Here we look at some of the potential drawbacks of sale season, and how you can prepare to avoid these pitfalls.
Knowing how to find the right discount percentage can be tricky. A big discount could entice more customers, but if you’re making a smaller margin on each sale, you may have to sell lots of items before you break even. You could consider discounts of 20%, 33% or even 50%, and perhaps then test which of these has been effective once the sale has ended.
Getting more customers through the door during a sale might sound exciting, but have you got the staffing numbers to cope with any increased demand? It could be sensible to plan early for busy periods like the Christmas party season, and if you run a hospitality business, taking booking and a pre-authorised payment could help manage the customer flow by making your headcount clear.
It’s all well and good if your products are selling like hot cakes, but what if your stock cupboards are bare? Being ‘out of stock’ is one potential pitfall of a small business sale. To prevent this scenario, you could look into inventory control techniques such as ‘par level’, where minimum stock levels are always maintained, or the Just-in-Time (JIT) method, where goods are moved just before they’re needed to reduce storage costs.
Discount ideas for retail
There are plenty of inventive ways you can offer discounts to your customers during a sale. Here are 10 ideas:
- ‘Early bird’ deals. A reduced priced for customers who make a purchase earlier than they normally would. While you will be charging less than usual, having cash to hand earlier could be worth the trade-off.
- Free delivery. E-commerce has taken off in recent years, and by offering free delivery – for example, to local people who pay online – you could turn a few heads during a sale.
- Flash sales. A flash sale is a time-limited offer which you can advertise on your website and on any email campaigns. It could create a sense of urgency and drive new sales.
- Exclusive discounts. You could offer discounts to certain customer groups, such as NHS staff, the armed forces, or students, for example.
- Buy one, get one free. A classic sales discount is to offer a freebie for each sold item. This could help you offload any products that are taking up storage space.
- Price match. A price match deal is where you refund the customer the difference if they’re able to find a product cheaper elsewhere. This could give customers some reassurance when shopping around.
- Package deals. Offering a discount for customers who buy products in a bundle could free up space in your storeroom. It also gives you the chance to gauge feedback on lower selling items that you may have otherwise struggled to shift.
- Product giveaway. Who doesn’t like free stuff? A 100% discount gives you an opportunity to promote and test new products, get people through the door and create an affinity with your customers.
- Telephone deals. You may want to offer discounts to customers who order by telephone. For example, if you run a restaurant or takeaway, you may prefer customers to order directly through you as it may save you the cost of using online delivery platforms or apps.
- Special occasions. Sometimes there’s simply a good excuse to offer your customers a welcome discount. Whether it’s seasonal holidays like Christmas or Easter, newer trends like Black Friday, or annual events like Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day or Halloween, there are plenty of opportunities to mark your calendar and create bespoke branding for each occasion.
How Tyl can help you during sales season
With any luck, you’ll be selling your products like hot cakes during the next sales season. And to keep track of all that sales data, the Tyl portal (fees and eligibility criteria apply) could give you the oversight you’re looking for. You can also review payments made to you, and view and download your invoices.
The latest from Tyl Talks
There’s plenty more where that came from. Over at Tyl Talks we’ve got some glorious guides, featuring plenty of inspiration to help you run your business. Read some of our latest blogs:
This has been prepared by Tyl by NatWest for informational purposes only and should not be treated as advice or a recommendation. There may be other considerations relevant to you and your business so you should undertake your own independent research.
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