13 Simple eCommerce Promotions

2020 Increase in online purchasing

The Coronavirus pandemic has encouraged new and established retailers across all industries to prioritise their online offering and eCommerce promotions. Overall web sales are up year on year across all industries, as shoppers continue the preference to purchase online rather than venture into stores. In fact in the United States, total US sales in June 2020 were up 76% on last year (June, Adobe Analytics).

With many retailers moving swiftly to create an urgent online offering, competition online has been sharply increasing. A priority has been placed on providing consumers with a straightforward UX as well as compelling promotional activity to convert new customers. Providing the opportune time to review some simple and effective eCommerce promotions, especially as many begin preparing for Black Friday and Christmas. 

First steps in choosing an eCommerce promotion

The first step is to identify the objective of your eCommerce promotional campaign and establish how you want to run it. Much of this depends on your business model and what you are selling. Ask yourself:

  • Do you want to promote brands, services, or specific products?
  • Do you want to have banners change at regularly, or just as new ones come in?
  • Where do you want the banners placed on your website? Homepage, every web page?
  • Are you going to be hands-on with creating banners yourself or will you rely on outside sources to make them? 
  • What is your goal with this campaign (e.g. increased sales, new product launch, increase advertising revenue)?

Tips for all types of designing eCommerce promotions

  • Ensure marketing is unobtrusive and responsive – You want to give your customers the option to engage, rather than force engagement.
  • Clear and simple promotions – Make sure your promotion can be described in one clear sentence.
  • Less is more –  It’s okay to run multiple promotions simultaneously, just ensure they do not overlap with an existing promotion or confuse the customer. Ensure the customer knows clearly which offer is best value to them.

1. Start a loyalty program

A loyalty program, although straightforward to the customer, takes time, planning and forward thinking. You must consider how the program will evolve over time and grow to reward loyal customers to improve relationships, increase repeat purchases and reduce marketing costs, as well as gaining valuable customer data.

Many have a full-time employee responsible for loyalty as it requires consistent engagement with members including significant communications such as special loyalty promotions and email updates. For example you may offer a new customer sign-up offer to entice new members.

2. Offer Live Chat and Incentivise

Consumers nowadays are time poor, often wanting things done yesterday. When purchasing they expect their questions to be answered and refuse to spend time finding the answers. If your website does not satisfy doubts or questions. Whether that’s in relation to shipping, pricing or product information, the customer will simply hop to another website that has the answers and will complete the purchase there.

To combat this, Live Chat is an almost instant channel that will allow you to engage with the customer, not just for those who have questions. It can also be a way to engage website browsers and convert them into buyers. You could even price match, offering a limited or exclusive discount or coupon. You can also use live chat to educate, upsell and provide general information – excellent customer service and communication is a foundational step in building trust and gaining loyal customers.

3. Automate Emails – Dropped Basket

In some industries, basket abandonment can be as high as 60-70%. Meaning that only 30% of those visiting the website actually stay on-site to make a purchase.

To counter this effectively, many have employed the use of automation and re-engagement strategies such as triggered emails, targeted remarketing ads and action or time triggered on-site interventions.

An example strategy could be:

a/ On-site Intervention / Pop-up
Trigger: Greater than 5 minutes on-site or intent to close browser

Content: Offer assistance or small conversion offer e.g. 5% off or free shipping

b/ Automated Dropped Basket Email

Trigger: 15 minutes after basket abandonment

Content: Offer assistance and ways to contact us

c/ Automated Dropped Basket Email

Trigger: 2 days after basket abandonment

Content: Offer a limited time discount or offer to encourage conversion

d/ Customer Re-engagement Email

Trigger: 3-6 months since last purchase

Content: 10% off limited time voucher / Upsell new products

4. Limited time coupons or discounts

Create exclusivity and urgency with a short limited time coupon or discount. This can run for as little as 1 hour or perhaps a day. This type of promotion is excellent as converting those that are in the consideration stage of the purchasing journey and may be entice to buy now, if they feel they are getting an exclusive or limited discount.

This type of promotion performs well with new customers, especially if your product or service has a higher price point. The limited time discount creates urgency, encouraging same session purchase.

5. Create bundles – best sellers with high profit margin 

Bundle offers are another long-standing, and highly effective, promotional tactic for retail stores to increase their average order value.

The concept is to take a small cluster of products and package them up as a “Bundle”. Then offer them at a collective price which is cheaper than if a customer was to purchase each of them individually.

The best bundle offers have the following characteristics:

  • Each individual product in the bundle is attractive as a standalone purchase.
  • The bundle is, of course, cheaper than purchasing each of the individual products separately.
  • The bundle includes at least one high-margin product so that you can make a profit from the reduced sale price.
  • The products are complementary

NailsINC.com demonstrates how to create a successful bundle, containing best sellers, complementary products (top and base coat) which are also high margin items. Individually, the product would be worth an RRP of £47. The bundle offers a saving of 47%, an irresistible offer. 

Nails Inc Bundles Example

6. Complementary Cross-Selling 

This is an effective way for eCommerce stores to increase their average order value by offering complementary or similar products at the time of consideration and purchase.

There are two types of cross-selling; complementary and traditional. Complementary cross-selling is most common, which positions a complementary product alongside the product a customer has in their basket. For example: if you add a makeup brush to your basket, a complementary cross-sell could be a makeup brush cleaner or brush holder.

The traditional cross-sell offers a product that is only available when you purchase something specific, often offered at a reduced or exclusive price. Whichever type of cross-sell you choose, the most effective ones are personalised to each customer purchase.

Amazon.co.uk uses complementary cross-sells and to great success. Searching on Amazon for a yoga mat you will be offered a range of complementary products that can be added to the basket or wish list via 1 click. Now, that’s smart shopping!

Complementary Cross Selling Example

7. Multi-buy Deals

A classic, but effective. This eCommerce promotion is a favourite of both online and offline retail stores. By offering customers a deal if they purchase multiple products – such as 2 for 1 or buy 2 and get 1 free – you are increasing the likelihood of a purchase. 

This is a highly successful eCommerce promotion, particularly in health and beauty industries. Customers feel they are getting a fantastic deal – receiving one full-sized free product that they would have been willing to pay full price for. Retailers cash in also, as health and beauty products often have high margins.

Superdrug regularly runs 3for2 promotions across popular brands.

3for2 promotions example

8. Free Samples

Building faith and trust with potential customers can be difficult. Perhaps you’d like to introduce customers to a best seller? Offering free samples can help get your product in the hands of more people. This is particularly effective if the item is complementary to the products being purchased or is likely to need replaced regularly.

Again, health and beauty industries have thrived using free samples or gifts with purchase. Nails INC offer a free full sized nail polish with orders over £30. A perfect incentive to add value to the customer basket, while increasing average order value.

Free samples Example

9. Flash Sales

A flash sale is a short, time sensitive promotion, usually lasting from 1 hour to a few days. Flash sales are synonymous with high value discounts of offering and limited stock availability. This combination creates urgency, enticing customers to buy now, rather than waiting. It really taps into our want to have things right away and our strong fear of missing out #FOMO!

Flash sales in eCommerce are also a specifically good tactic for selling out-of-season stock or underperforming product lines that are simply taking up room in your storage space.

10. Free Shipping, Returns or Exchanges

Hands up 🙋‍♀️ Who actually pays for Shipping?! You’ll find that conversion rate increases when you offer free shipping. A survey conducted by WalkerSands, where 80% of customers said that they would buy a product from Amazon if they get free shipping.

Free Shipping Example

For some businesses, providing free shipping to the customer can mean an additional cost.But you have an opportunity to consider the following options to make it as profitable as possible:

#1 Make it exclusive and give it to members only. (ASOS offered unlimited shipping for £9.99 a year!)

#2 Limit it to a purchase over a certain threshold. (This will also help increase AOV)

#3 Build the shipping cost in your product cost, but be mindful of your competitor pricing.

#4 Offer it on products where the shipping cost is low and affordable.

#5 Review your packaging and courier. Many retailers ‘over pack’ items, you can really reduce your shipping cost by picking the right kind of packaging.

11. Email Signup offers – new customers only

You’ve probably heard this time and time again, email marketing is an extremely important channel. The data collected can be used, not only for direct communication but as an aid for marketing purposes. Email lists can be used anonymously via digital platforms to create new audiences that look just like your existing customers. 

For a customer to enthusiastically sign up to communications, a strong encouragement is a sign up offer. Email offer sign ups encourage a purchase in the near future, as they are often exclusive to new customers and time sensitive. Superdrug has a striking example of how best to use an email signup offer. 

Email Signup Example

12. On-site Interactive Games “Spin to Win”

Spin to win games add a fun element to a website while offering a time sensitive promotion.There are many variations of promotional games that can be used such as “click to reveal” offers or spin to win. Must be popular is definitely the spin to win promotion.

BobbiBrown.com had a fun spin to win promotion running for a limited time. Even if you didn’t win the result was to spin again – encouraging time spent on site, interactions and eventually a purchase using the limited time promotion.

Spin to win promotional example


13. Referral Programs

Referral marketing is the method of promoting products or services to new customers through referrals, usually word of mouth. These are designed to attract and convert the right type of customer by leveraging a brand’s biggest assets – their current customers. Building a program can be a challenge in itself but if we strip it down it’s simplest option, you can create a ‘refer a friend’ program quite simply.

Spotify run consistent referral eCommerce promotions to encourage new user sign up.

Referral scheme promotional example spotify


As we approach the last quarter of 2020, reminding ourselves of some super simple yet effective promotions is a great way to kick start the ‘golden quarter’ planning. Whether it’s launching automatic emails or offering free shipping, hopefully you find this guide on eCommerce promotions useful!

What about us? Get in touch.

Buying and selling online is no longer the future, it is the present.  At Built for Growth, we have a demonstrable track record of helping bricks and mortar businesses realise their true potential online.  With a wealth of experience in consultation, design, digital marketing and much more, we’re uniquely positioned to steer you to success your expectations.

We’d love to be a part of your journey.  If you’d like to find out more about eCommerce Promotions and how we can help your business, get in touch for a free consultation.

We’re Built for Growth.  You should be too!



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