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10 ways to offer shoppers a discount

Many online retailers unintentionally train consumers to expect discounts. Clothing stores are amongst the worst offenders. 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.

In this post, I’ll review 10 ways to offer shoppers a discount.

10 ways to offer a discount

Delivery discount. Is your team already delivering near a client’s address? 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. I use a popup on my website offering visitors a 15 percent discount on their first order if they sign up for my email newsletter. When shoppers ask for a discount, and I know they are not a subscriber, I suggest they take advantage of this. They get a discount, and I grow my list.

Birthday or anniversary offer. When I ran My Wedding Décor (now merged into My Event Décor) my 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 me to send a special offer for 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 example, I sell 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.

Say a shopper has a small, fixed budget per item that is 50 percent 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. My rental price was $24 each. She wanted 22 vases, so I 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.)

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

Prestige discount. High-end brands can be the most frequent to ask for discounts, apparently believing us lucky to have their business.

My 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, my 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.

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. 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.

Elizabeth Hollingsworth
Elizabeth Hollingsworth
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