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Ten terrific ways to offer shoppers valuable discount

A large number of online retailers unintentionally train consumers to expect discounts, while the clothing stores are amongst the worst offenders, writes Elizabeth Hollingsworth, an experienced e-commerce merchant founder of three online businesses including My Event Decor in practicalecommerce.com.

Constant discounting makes full-price shoppers believe they’re being overcharged. They often won’t shop until the next sale, which leads to a vicious cycle. It is a rare company that doesn’t get asked for discounts. And it’s a rare business owner who doesn’t, at least occasionally, get annoyed by these requests, says the author, who reviews ten ways to offer shoppers a discount.

Delivery discount

Is your team already delivering near a client’s address?  Asks Hollingsworth and writes, “The savings — time and money — from not having to return to that area could allow you to reduce the client’s shipping fee, or even provide free delivery.”

Newsletter discount

Popup promotions offering a discount to first-time visitors are popular. Hollingsworth uses a popup on my website offering visitors a 15% discount on their first order if they sign up for her email newsletter. When shoppers ask for a discount, and she knows they are not a subscriber, she suggests they take advantage of this. They get a discount, and she grows my list.

Birthday or anniversary offer

When she ran My Wedding Décor (now merged into My Event Décor) her newsletter signup box included a field for the couple’s wedding date. A year afterward, that date became their anniversary. It was an opportunity for her to send a special offer as a gift for their partner, or towards a décor item.

Sell in bulk

Your supplier will likely give you better rates for buying in bulk. You can pass the savings to your customers. For instance, the entrepreneur sells customized usherette trays for product launches, outdoor festivals, and expos. The single custom tray sells $349 and a set of five sells for $1,119 ($223.80 each).

Offer fewer of the same item

This is not a discount in the real sense, but it helps shoppers lower their purchase amounts, she says. Say a shopper has a small, fixed budget per item that is 50% of your selling price. Let the shopper know he can purchase half as many products. This will test whether he is a serious buyer.

For example, one of my customers once said she could afford to rent vases for $12 each. Her rental price was $24 each. She wanted 22 vases, so Hollingsworth suggested that she rent 11, and placed them not on the guest tables but on the welcome table, bridal table, gift table, and bar. (She finally gave in and rented 24 vases at $24 each.)

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Offer ex-rental, end-of-season, and sample items

This tactic lets your shoppers receive a discount while you move inventory. Hollingsworth had a Perth, Australia-based florist who wanted to buy eight new rose mercury glass bowls but balked at the shipping price. So, she charged the same shipping fee but offered the option of purchasing eight ex-rental bowls at a reduced rate, which she readily accepted.

Prestige discount

High-end brands can be the most frequent to ask for discounts, apparently believing us lucky to have their business. Hollingsworth’s suggestion is to offer a discount to these brands if your website is new and you would benefit from social media mentions, press coverage, testimonials, or to use their logo (with approval) on your website.

If, however, your business is established with existing, notable clients, her suggestion is to not offer a discount to the new ones. If they mention something along the lines of “You can say you work with us” (in return for giving them a discount), you can respond, “You can get to work with us, too, like [name other prestigious clients].”

Pay early discount

This is a popular option among service companies such as accountants, lawyers, and advertising agencies. If your company sells products with 30-day payment terms, encourage customers to pay earlier to receive a discount.

Plan-ahead discount

Reward unhurried shoppers with a discount. You can do this because it’s not urgent and therefore they do not need fast delivery, Hollingsworth writes. Or, perhaps other shoppers want the same item. You can order it at bulk (discounted) prices and extend the lower price to all buyers. You could also reduce the price if you have time to source a cheaper wholesaler.

Referral fee

Word of mouth referrals are the best way to build your business, she asserts. Offer clients a rebate on their next order if they refer others to your company. This could be a tiered rebate amount, based on how much the new customer spends, she concludes.

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