“Shop now! Expiring offer! Now! Buy now!” – downsides

4758676577_aa65eda52f_zThere are a lot of reasons for which a store (online or not) should have promotions such as:

  • Expiring offer – valid until …
  • Expiring offer – only … products left on stock.
  • Offer limited only to the clients who meet the following criteria: …

I will bring in this article some light on why you might consider not having this kind of offers.

You know the promotions – you get X product cheaper, within some limitations.

Reasons for which to include an offer (detailed here: Why Clearance Sales are Psychologically “Irresistable” | Psychology Today):

  • Fear of missing out.
  • Competition.
  • Assumed value.
  • Focus on saving, not spending.
  • Capitalizing on time investment.

If I were a retailer, would I use it? Probably. But there are some reasons to hold me back:

  • Apple has almost no offer, and if they do, they’re on very special occasions (Black Friday, you’re a student, you previously owned a machine of theirs). The first reason not to use such offers is that it affects your brand. Deeply. “Apple is the brand which doesn’t do promotions”. This sounds good. It’s a nice thing, I would buy from such a company. “They don’t do discounts. Hmm, this means they value their merchandise as a quality one”. Offering discounts adversely affects your brand positioning.
  • It depends on what you sell. I wouldn’t like to buy an affordable BMW, an easy-to-get jewelry. Nowadays, fake pearls are hard to distinguish from authentic ones. Yet, people still buy the authentic ones. Why do this, since they barely even differ? Why pay a premium for something of a very similar quality (you wouldn’t tell one from another in a blind test)? Why do people slightly prefer Coca-Cola over Pepsi, even if Pepsi, in blind tests, rates better? Why want more of a product which tastes poorer? There are products for which discounts don’t fit in well – like premium products.
  • The promotions won’t stop. In Romania, some big retailers had huge promotions on Black Friday. Now, the question comes – would I buy a laptop in April 2013, knowing that in November I can get a similar laptop from Black Friday for a much better price? Offer one time a discount, and buyers will expect you to match that discount again in order to buy from you. If I buy snickers with 50 USD, at sales, I will have a difficult time buying next time for 80 USD, their regular price. Offer one time a discount, and the people will always expect discounts from you. Always.
  • Let’s say you’re a retailer and have 80 products. You offer discounts for 5 of them. How would I feel, as a buyer, when I want to shop one of those 75 products? I feel I’m actually losing money. Not offering any discounts gives me a peace of mind – “Oh, I know that if I buy from X store, anything I will buy will be at a non-discount price. I might as well enjoy the process”. If you can’t offer discounts for every single product in your offering, people will feel bad whenever they will see a non-discounted product. It’s a similar thinking to the paradox of choice.

You probably won’t listen to my advice, and still do promotions. What are some tips on it?

  • Avoid cheating. If you have a products which sells for $199, and others have it at the same price, don’t claim your product originally was $249, and it’s a discount. Don’t create fake discounts.
  • Consider having discounts on all the products. If you look on any typical product on Amazon, you will see it has a discount. They actually don’t lie with this, the discount is the difference between the price at which you’ll find the product in a typical brick and mortar store and their price. There actually is a difference. Although, to some degree, they do cheat, you can get a similar price from other stores. You don’t actually save if you compare to online stores, you only save when you compare to brick and mortar businesses. A good strategy? If you offer a discount, offer a discount to every single product on your web site.
  • Offer historical comparisons. I would love to buy from a store which is transparent and shows me the price evolution of a product along the previous months (even years, for some products). Show me a graph of how the price evolved, and I will be a happy client. Then, I can take an informed decision – is the promotion you claim you have a real one?
  • Any text of these: “”Shop now! Expiring offer! Now! Buy now!”” is aggressive. By asking the shopper to act now, you are pushing the client, and, perhaps, not making him feel all that well.

I am a Digital Marketing freelancer. My expertise is in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) / UX (user experience) / WordPress. Co-founder of lumeaseoppc.ro (series of events on SEO & PPC) and cetd.ro (Book on branding for MDs). On a personal level, I like self-development - events, sports, healthy living, volunteering, reading, watching movies, listening to music.

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