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Lessons learned from a Flash Sale

AndreasAndreas Member
in Merchants edited May 2012
Hi all,

I wanted to use this forum to share a little knowledge with anyone smart enough to check this from time to time.

A couple of weeks ago my company ran a Flash Sale through We put up 1,000 coupons valued at $33 for sale at $16. It was advertised as Buy One Banjees Get One Free, but I made the coupon valid toward any two items on the site. We could have easily limited the coupon to just Banjees using the Categories option of FoxyCart, but we decided to make it site-wide as an Easter Egg for the curious (of which, there were none! Everyone bought Banjees).

So, the lessons I'd like to share:
1. Prep well ahead. we didn't and it wasn't catastrophic, but I did have a few "pull my hair out"moments. While planning, check with your hosting provider for schedule maintenance and also review the FC status page: Although I did both of these things, our hosting company needed to perform emergency maintenance the day our campaign was scheduled to launch. Fortunately we were able to postpone by a couple of days.

If you are limiting your coupon to a particular category of products, test each and everyone of them with the coupon. The thick of a flash sale is NOT the time to learn you missed an item.

2. Learn the ins-and-outs of the Transaction Report. You'll probably need it to do things such as monitor inventory and account for the coupons used with the flash sale partner.

3. Modify your cart to emphasize coupon entry box. Schwaggle wrote a great description of how to use the coupon both on their website and in the email they sent to purchasers, however, a significant number of people still did not know how to order using the coupon code. A handful of people even placed orders at full price - without EVER using the discount. This was a PITA because we had to cancel the order and get them to reorder (if we could catch it) or refund them the difference and place a bogus order to use the code.

About mid-way through the sale we changed the coupon code box to always be expanded. Some have recommended further changes to more emphasize the box, but I didn't see a need. Frankly, although there were enough people who didn't get it to cause a PITA, the percentage was below 5%.

4. Expect a spike the 1st day of the sale and then a pretty steep drop-off. We launched on a Friday and the deal ran for 6 days. Friday was CRAZY, the weekend was busy, the rest of the week was still much more busy than normal, but not hectic.

5. Send a thank you note to people who purchase the flash sale deal and order with you. I created a new segment in our email database and emailed just the Schwaggle customers with a special offer. We had a 1% unsubscribe rate from that email which is FINE! We still acquired a significant number of new customers to whom we can market.

If you're considering a Flash Sale, feel free to ask any questions. I'll answer what I can.
  • lancelance Member, Community Support Member
    Thanks for the insights, @Andreas. I've had several clients that have done Flash sales or Groupon-style voucher redemptions, and I can confirm that these are important steps. For one of our clients useing voucher redemptions, we've actually bypassed the FoxyCart coupons and implemented our own voucher system, which has worked well for them as it has given us a lot of control over how the UX is handled and allowed greater up-sell potential, too.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with the community!

  • fc_adamfc_adam FoxyCart Team

    Thanks for posting! Great and important notes for sure!
  • An update: Important for the time after the coupon changes value.

    This will be familiar to anyone who has done a flash sale, but for those who have not, the "deal" is typically valid for a period of time (30 days for ours) and then the coupon drops in value for one year. For example, we sold a $33 coupon for $16. This was valid for 30 days, but by law the customer, if they do not use the coupon within the window, still has one year to redeem the coupon for the purchase price ($16) for 1 year.

    The time for us to change the value of the coupon came recently and this post is regarding what I learned.

    First some background:
    -Our partner provided us with the codes to use.
    -When creating the coupon I used the "Import Coupon Codes" option to paste in over 1k codes
    -Each code was unique, so I set the "number of uses allowed per individual code" to 1

    90% of the coupons we sold were used within the initial 30-day window which meant I needed to change the value of the codes for the remaining 10%. When I edited the coupon, it made available ALL of the codes again.

    The effect of editing the coupon was an unknown (see: but based on my experience, I believe it would have indeed had the effect.

    Because of this, I needed to go back and delete from the list the used coupons. Not really a big deal - I was able to do it while watching TV one evening, but something to be aware of.

    In hindsight: I should have:
    -Before editing the coupon, copied the codes and pasted them into a spreadsheet
    -Used a filter to hide the ones with strike-through
    -Copied the remaining
    -Updated the coupon value, delete the codes and replace them with the ones copied from the spreadsheet.

    Hope this helps those in the future.
  • lukeluke FoxyCart Team
    Thanks so much for following up. As posted on the other thread, we'll create a ticket to get this resolved in a future version.
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