Shoppers are always looking for a deal. Research shows that discount codes and promotional offers can drive customers to your site and boost sales, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. The trouble is, special offers can kill profitability (especially for smaller etailers that are dependent on drop-shipping).
But we have good news: There are coupons and promotional offers that can drive business without flattening profits. Here are some examples.
Discounted Shipping Offers
Most aftermarket retailers offer free shipping, so this trick isn’t applicable to everyone in the auto parts and accessories business.
However, if you sell OEM replacement parts, you probably charge for shipping. Why not offer a discount on your quoted shipping rates? It’s a great way to offer your customers a discount, without losing much money.
For example: you can offer 25% off shipping, which (on an average order) will work out to a discount of about $3. To protect your margins, you can exclude items over a certain weight, and/or you can exclude items that are shipped via freight or LTL.
You can also set a minimum purchase amount on this offer, but frankly this offer makes money even on small orders…the less the part costs, the less it costs to ship, so the smaller the discount.
While most auto parts retailers can’t offer anything like a “buy-one-get-one-free” type of promotion (the margins just aren’t high enough), it’s easy enough to offer a “buy-three-get-the-fourth-one-free” promo on parts with a margin of 30% or higher.
For some parts – like brake pads, oil filters, shocks, and floor mats – this kind of offer can work. It won’t generate a ton of profit, so it’s important to offer it on parts that get used up quickly, and/or are the first purchase consumers make when they have a new vehicle.
Add a Free Gift, or an Accessory at a Big Discount
Free gifts for orders over a certain dollar amount (say, $199) can be a great way to move the needle without sacrificing profit.
Take, for example, a free t-shirt. T-shirts are cheap…you might spend $10 each if you order 100 at a time, and that’s assuming you get a premium shirt with more than 1 color ink. However, the retail value of a t-shirt is $15 to $25, and making it a freebie could be a big deal if the t-shirt looks nice.
Same goes for a clever sticker, hats, or even branded mugs and tumblers. Your customers are drinking coffee out of something, right? Why not give them a branded mug that they’ll use every day if they order more than $250 worth of parts?
Big savings on a well-liked accessory that most people would replace if the price was low enough (like a set of floor mats or seat covers) is another idea. “Spend $250 or more, and get $50 off any set of floor mats.”
Note: Some floor mat brands will get snooty if you mention them by name and/or show their products in your ad…so be sure to be careful with your creative.
Tools are another great giveaway or discount item: “Order more than $100 worth of product, and you can add a torque wrench to your order for just $25.”
Tips and Best Practices
- When you come up with your offer, be sure to emphasize it’s a ‘limited time offer,’ and/or that it’s only available to the first 100 customers (or whatever). This will limit the amount of discounting, and it will create a sense of urgency with the consumer.
- If you’re going to give away a product (or offer a big discount), be sure to mention the full retail value of the product you’re giving away. “Get this toolbox for just $25 (full retail price is $79).”
- It’s OK to give away or discount off-brand or self-branded products, but be careful giving away or discounting premium brands. Many companies have MAP policies that prohibit giveaways.
- Test, test, and test some more. There are one or two good ways to state an offer, a dozen mediocre ways to state an offer, and 1,000 bad ways to state an offer. Make sure your verbiage is clear, and then test alternative wording/phrasing once you land on an offer that works.
- Don’t be afraid to go back to the same offer over and over again. Sometimes, it’s important to come up with a fresh idea. Sometimes, you just need to stick with what works. Discounts and sale offers are the latter.
- Keep it simple. Don’t offer 10 different specials. Don’t offer overly complex discounts. Don’t outsmart yourself or confuse your customer.
If you structure your special offers correctly, they won’t kill your profits, and they’ll generate a nice boost in revenue. Good luck!