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Ecommerce Promotion Ideas to Drive Sales

In today’s crowded ecommerce landscape, the battle is on between brands to generate awareness, capture leads, inspire purchases and cultivate a loyal following of customers. One proven way of winning over online shoppers is with an ecommerce promotion.

Written By
Hannah Smiddy

Considering an ecommerce promotion for your Shopify store? Not sure where to start? Fear not, Swanky have you covered.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at how ecommerce promotions can benefit your business. We’ll explore five popular ecommerce promotion ideas that have been proven to attract shoppers and drive sales. Also, you’ll find some helpful best practice tips to keep in mind when planning and running an ecommerce promotion.

Let’s get started …

Why are ecommerce promotions important?

Online consumers are becoming increasingly savvy. Not only this, but they are being presented with more buying options than ever before. With this in mind, what can you do to persuade visitors to invest in your products? In your arsenal of persuasion tools, consider a promotion as one of the most valuable for your ecommerce business. Let’s take a look at why.

Increase revenue

Firstly, a well-crafted, well-timed ecommerce promotion has the potential to increase your sales revenue. Consumers are after the best possible deal. Price is an important factor for them at every stage in the sales funnel. As a merchant, you can capitalise on this and guide your customers through their buying journey using promotions to drive sales.

A small incentive can go a long way as well. Don’t be fooled into thinking you need to offer astronomical discounts to have a positive impact on sales.

Convert traffic

Ecommerce promotions are a great way to engage and convert traffic. By analysing your conversion funnel, you can identify key drop-off points (the places where people leave your site before completing the desired action). You can then use promotions to better engage them and keep them on your site through the point of conversion. This will create more sales opportunities, along with a higher return on investment from any paid traffic campaigns.

Raise brand awareness

Promotions are an effective way of creating a buzz around your brand. Not only do they provide content for your social channels, but they also increase the likelihood of word-of-mouth recommendations.

Engage visitors

Ecommerce promotions present a valuable opportunity to directly engage with your site visitors with something that could be of value to them. Offering a prospective customer a reward such as free delivery, a gift on purchase or a special offer, enhances their shopping experience and fosters the beginnings of a positive brand-consumer relationship.

5 ecommerce promotion ideas

#1 Flash sale

‘Flash sale’ … two words that shoppers thrive on. When you host a flash sale, you offer your products at a steep discount for a short period of time. Usually, the product quantity is limited.

A well-executed, well-thought-out flash sale has the ability to drive sales, increase customer lifetime value and earn you brand loyalty. Flash sales create a sense of urgency. They entice customers into completing their purchase on the spot. Furthermore, flash sales compel shoppers to explore non-sale products on your site. It could be a powerful promotion for your ecommerce store.

A screenshot of Skinny Teatox's online store showing a flash sale ecommerce promotion.

Here Skinny Teatox are using a flash sale to drive sales of Clear Skin Tea on their Shopify Plus store.

Also, flash sale promotions can be a super-effective method for quickly getting rid of excess inventory, or selling items that are no longer in season. This means you can make more warehouse room for newer, more popular inventory.

Finally, flash sales are a great opportunity for increasing brand awareness. They provide a basis for adverts and content across all your channels, as well as discount sites and blogs. Consequently, your visibility is raised and you become a top-of-mind brand for consumers.

Tip: However, get a flash sale wrong, and you could be feeling the effects lightning fast. If you’re not prepared for your promotion and fail to deliver on inventory and order fulfilment, your reputation as a trusted ecommerce retailer could take a hit.  

For more tips on running a profitable flash sale, check out this comprehensive guide by Shopify.

#2 Free delivery

Free delivery means a lot to consumers. Did you know that nearly half of shoppers would reportedly abandon their cart if they found out free delivery wasn’t included? And orders with free delivery tend to average around 30% higher in value? With these numbers in mind, it goes without saying that free delivery is an important promotion for your ecommerce brand to explore.

If you’re unable to offer free delivery all the time, short free delivery promotions can be a clever way to boost conversion rates, increase average order values and build up a loyal following of customers. From a psychological perspective, customers can browse your ecommerce store more confidently knowing you are offering free delivery. They can be sure that the price they see on the product page is a true representation of the final price they will have to pay. This creates a much more positive shopping experience, one that they’ll want to share with fellow shoppers.

There are several different types of free delivery promotions to consider, but here are a few popular examples.

Free delivery threshold

By offering free delivery over a specific spend value, many shoppers will actually add additional items to their cart just to receive the free delivery. A huge 48% of US shoppers are willing to do this, in fact! This type of promotion will help increase average order value and potentially boost profits within certain product categories.

A screenshot from Morphe's online store to show an example of a free delivery ecommerce promotion.

An example of a free delivery threshold ecommerce promotion on the Shopify Plus store of beauty brand Morphe.

Free delivery for X hours only 

Offering free delivery during a specific time period can help increase sales during slow periods. Also, it offers shoppers a further incentive during busy trading seasons when industry competition is high. Similarly to a flash sale, this sort of ecommerce promotion pushes consumers to take urgent action and complete a purchase before the offer runs out.

Free delivery on next order

If repeat sales are what you’re aiming for, consider offering shoppers free delivery on their next order. This is a great way to incentivise shoppers to return to your store.

Tip: Check that offering free delivery is a viable option for your business. You can limit discounts to specific countries and groups of customers if necessary. Also, you can avoid cutting into your margins by excluding shipping rates over a certain amount.

#3 Free gift with purchase

Providing a free gift with purchase is a simple yet effective way to drive sales whilst creating a more attractive shopping experience for your customers. Numerous studies have highlighted the benefits of gift promotions for retailers. Let’s explore a few of these advantages in more detail.

A free gift encourages customers to follow their purchase through to completion by giving them more things for the same price. It adds perceived worth to a transaction, as well as surprising and delighting customers. If customers feel like they have received an unexpected deal and been provided with greater value, a closer connection is generated between retailer and consumer. As a result, shoppers are more likely to respond with loyalty and visit your online store again. Not only this, but they are more likely to share their positive experiences with others.

Typically, promotional gifts are limited, which creates a sense of exclusivity and urgency. These are both things that can lead to an increase in conversions.

A screenshot from Huel's online store showing an example of a free gift ecommerce promotion.

Huel offer two free gifts with first orders of their Huel Powder, adding value for consumers and creating a positive shopping experience.

Finally, offering gifts with purchases also boosts your competitive advantage. This is an important benefit in today’s crowded ecommerce market.

Tip: Be sure to pick the right product to give away with purchases. Think about your target consumer and what will appeal to them, whilst keeping in mind the financial needs of your business.

#4 Percentage-based discounts

A common promotion seen across ecommerce sites is percentage-based discounts. The size of the discount you offer to shoppers will ultimately depend on your promotion goal, as well as your business’ financial needs. Small discounts like 5% or 10% can be all that’s needed to incentivise shoppers. Larger percentage reductions like 20% or 25% will really drive sales. If you’re looking to sell large volumes of slow or out-of-season merchandise, significant discounts of 50% or more will encourage quick sales.

A screenshot from The 5th's online store showing an example of a percentage-based discount ecommerce promotion.

Premium watch brand The 5th are using a percentage-based discount to sell off their Tokyo range. The wording on this ecommerce promotion creates a sense of urgency to drive immediate action.

Percentage-based discounts are a simple way to encourage customers to complete their orders because they create a sense of urgency. The anticipation of missing out on a discount spurs shoppers to act quickly. Hence, this means increased sales numbers during the promotion period. You could see an increase in sales of non-discounted items too, as shoppers are likely to explore other parts of your site as well.

Discounts attract new shoppers to your store, especially when only valid for a brief amount of time. They are a great way to acquire new customers without investing in a large marketing campaign.

A screenshot from Pipcorn's online store showing a pop-up offering 15% off.

Here, Pipcorn are using a percentage-based discount to help acquire new customers. This pop-up is presented upon arrival on their Shopify Plus store.

As an ecommerce merchant, you can also use percentage-based discounts to express gratitude to your existing customer base. Offering X% off to loyal customers helps to increase their emotional attachment with your brand. This reinforces their feeling of loyalty, which can contribute to repeat sales and increased revenue.

Tip: Set firm objectives and compute the right metrics to ensure you don’t cut into your profits.

#5 Cross-selling promotions

Cross-selling is a way of increasing your sales by suggesting an additional, relevant product to a customer. You can combine this sales technique with a promotion by offering a secondary item at a discounted price.

Promotions that focus on secondary items are a simple way of providing value to your customers. We know that convenience is key for consumers. Ideally, they are looking to shop in one place. By offering cross-selling promotions with complementary products, you’re satisfying their desire for a smooth and convenient shopping experience.

A screenshot from Skinnydip's online store showing an example of a cross-selling ecommerce promotion.

Skinny Dip cross-selling a half-price screen protector with the purchase of a phone case.

There are of course benefits for you as an ecommerce manager too. For instance, cross-selling promotions can increase average order value and ultimately contribute to increased revenue. Also, highlighting a relevant secondary item to your customers and then offering it at a reduced rate can improve customer satisfaction and engagement. As a result, this can improve customer retention.

Tip: The key to cross-selling promotions is to always provide something valuable to your customers. Offering a discounted item of low-quality and little relevance to a shopper who has perhaps purchased an expensive, high-quality item could be a damaging move.

Ecommerce promotion best practice

Deciding upon an ecommerce promotion that will work for you and your brand takes time and consideration. Once you’ve settled on an idea to run with, take time to optimise your promotion so that it performs as best as possible. Without dedicated planning and preparation, a haphazard ecommerce promotion risks damaging your brand.

Here are five best practice tips to consider before running your next ecommerce promotion.

#1 Promotions should be mutually beneficial

Make sure your ecommerce promotion strikes a careful balance between benefitting your business and appealing to shoppers. As we’ve emphasised throughout this article, it’s essential to review your financial metrics before planning and running any sort of promotion. Check which discounts and deals you can viably run. Once you’ve got a clear idea of what you can offer, consider what type of promotion will entice and incentivise shoppers most.

#2 Call attention to an ecommerce promotion

Use tools such as pop-ups, banners and slide-ins to call attention to your promotions. Smart, brand-consistent on-site messages will help engage your site visitors and ultimately drive action.

No coding or design experience? Fear not – thanks to our friends at Justuno, you can launch a pop-up or promotion in just a couple of minutes using their super-intuitive promotion setup wizard. With fully customisable designs and display rules, it’s never been simpler to launch high-converting pop-ups for your ecommerce store. Check out these six high-converting Justuno template pop-ups for some inspiration!

A screenshot of JustUno pop-up promoting a Cyber Monday sale.An example of an engaging full screen JustUno pop-up, complete with countdown timer.

More than creating beautiful, engaging pop-ups, JustUno is a complete conversion rate optimisation suite. As well as enticing consumers to engage with your promotions, you can use the platform to increase subscribers, reduce cart abandonment and increase sales conversions.

Learn more about how JustUno works with Shopify in this handy bitesize video, and find them on the Shopify app store here.

#3 Engage customers at key moments

By tracking funnel abandonment, you can pinpoint where in their journey people are leaving your site. Armed with this insight, you’ll know exactly where to place your promotions.

Above all, look to engage your store visitors when they arrive on your site and when they decide to leave. These moments represent key opportunities to engage shoppers and drive conversions. 55% of users will exit your site within 15 seconds. Therefore, aim to notify them of any discounts or gift opportunities within this time period. As a visitor is about to leave, engage them with a promotion. This is especially important if they are attempting to leave their cart without completing their purchase.

#4 Take advantage of seasonal opportunities

Start planning promotions around holidays and special events well in advance! With a seasonal ecommerce promotion, you can capitalise on periods of high-traffic where online shoppers are more inclined to part with their pennies. Seasonal promotions are a great tool for enticing customers with limited-time discounts and thus increasing visibility among consumers.  

There are endless possibilities for crafting unique seasonal promotions that align with your brand and your audience. Firstly, you can build seasonal promotions from recognised holidays like Christmas and Easter. Next, there’s annual events such as Black Friday and back-to-school season which also make clever ecommerce promotion opportunities. Finally, don’t forget special events which are supported and celebrated by businesses (think named days such as International Day of Happiness, as well as international events like Fashion Week).

A screenshot from Sunday Somwhere's online store showing an example of a seasonal ecommerce promotion for Australia Day.

Australian fashion brand Sunday Somewhere based a recent percentage discount ecommerce promotion around the annual celebration of Australia Day.

#5 Experiment with your ecommerce promotions

As with everything you implement on your ecommerce store, promotions should be viewed as an ongoing learning experience. There are so many variations to consider. Different strings of wording in your on-site messaging could bring you different success rates, as could different discount amounts and different pop-up styles. To really make the most out of an ecommerce promotion, you can use A/B testing to compare variations and track which ones are most successful for achieving your objectives. You can systematically work through variations, incrementally improving each one to increase conversions and drive sales.

To find out more about A/B testing and how Swanky’s conversion rate optimisation service could assist your brand, check out our website.

To conclude

Ecommerce promotions can be a powerful tool when it comes to increasing sales, driving customer loyalty and quickly moving stock. Consumers love getting a good deal, often displaying very predictable behaviour in their quest for the best prices. Know your audience and their needs inside and out, and use this knowledge to provide sales-boosting promotions that add value to their shopping experience.

Not only can you use an ecommerce promotion to benefit both you and your customers, but they are quick and simple to implement on your Shopify store. The native discount functionality of Shopify allows merchants to create, manage, edit and track discounts easily. Furthermore, the platform’s app store features a huge variety of discount-focused apps that can help automate your ecommerce promotions.

To optimise your ecommerce store’s online presence, why not get in touch with Swanky’s team of Shopify Plus experts – we’d love to hear from you! We have a dedicated team of CRO experts who can help you take your brand to the next level.

You can also head over to our blog for all-things-ecommerce – we’ve got plenty of useful tips and tricks to get your ecommerce store thriving!

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