Skip to main content

Running a sale

Executing a sale that doesn’t disrupt your system is actually a by-product of making a better sale experience.

Peter Messana's headshoot
By Peter Messana - CEO

Generally, I hate the idea of running a sale. I believe that your day-in-day-out price should be the best and general sales diminish your brand and create events that you must replicate in order to comp them and show growth each year. That first memorial day sale is now every year.

There are other ways to offload excess inventory and closeouts like outlet categories or even outlet microsites. But sales excite people, those large revenue days are fist-pumping, high fivers.

Most don’t heed my advice or subscribe to my thinking. That is fine, each has their reason for running a sale. I don’t hold it against people. However, there are better ways to run a sale than just blasting out an email, tweet, or TikTok.

I have seen people take down their systems, our system, platforms, etc. It isn’t a function of proper load testing. You can never simulate real-life traffic. Coinbase’s Superbowl ad is a perfect example. They knew exactly how many people would see the ad and scaling up to the level needed is near impossible. They didn’t have the ability to spread the traffic and they crashed. Retailers can control their traffic during a sale.

Executing a sale that doesn’t disrupt your system is actually a by-product of making a better sale experience. Consider customer experience first, not system uptime.

Achieving success starts with segmenting your customers and dividing the sale into different chunks such that everyone participates but you don’t overwhelm your systems. This allows you to provide a great experience for your shoppers.

Those most likely to jump at your sale are people who are already fans of your product and they should be rewarded by an ‘exclusive’ period that allows them to shop first and get in and out before the crowd. “Exclusive” and “Private Events” are great for the customer and even better for your systems to swallow the traffic. New and casual customers don’t know that someone got in early and you already took care of your VIP customers. As an added bonus, even if your site crashes, you have already captured a great deal of revenue while appeasing your best customers. 

Still not sold and still want to blast it to the 8 billion people on earth? That’s fine, but now is the time to employ a waiting room. Large content delivery companies like CloudFlare and Akamai offer this type of product. It essentially protects you from taking yourself down, gives your customers an idea of where they are in line, and throttles traffic so those that wait in line get through and have a good experience. These are used for large events and last week I was reminded when I was invited to a buy early event for the F1 race in Austin. I was in the waiting room, I was number 3,000 and that was fine. It was better than Ticketmaster unable to respond and me having to constantly refresh the screen.

Your customers likely love your sales, but they are even more excited to not have to hit refresh a ton of times. And while crashing the internet is pretty cool, it isn’t going to bring more revenue.