Timely resources for sellers

How to Reach Christmas Bargain Hunters During COVID-19

In this time of economic upheaval and societal unknowns, many shoppers are looking for one thing: great deals, especially online. Enter the bargain hunter.

These sale-searching, deal-detecting bargain-hunting buyers pop up in every segment. A study into online shopper behaviour found that around 7 in 10 Australian shoppers (68%) are always on the lookout for discounts.

Never is this truer than in a time when many consumers are tightening their belts in the face of economic uncertainty and feeling anxious about going to brick and mortar retailers. According to the Australian Retailers Association, 62% of consumers said they now don’t feel comfortable shopping in a crowded location. In many cases, consumers are now motivated to stay home and take their shopping online.

Here’s what businesses need to know about capturing the attention of the bargain hunter online shopper.

Discover our festive season selling guide.

Get valuable insights from Square experts on how to sell this season.

Understanding the bargain hunter

For bargain hunters who appreciate the thrill of a deal, Christmas (and the Boxing Day sales that come afterwards) really is the most wonderful time of year.

They’re strategic. Bargain hunters do their homework before “adding to cart”. They’re not swayed by the need for instant gratification. In fact, according to Paypal, nearly half of shoppers would wait until the item they have their eye on goes on sale before committing to buy it. With the COVID-19 pandemic sidelining in-person retail, particularly in the state of Victoria, bargain hunters are taking their hunting online, with everything from browser extensions like Honey to cashback deal websites like Shopback.

They’re not confined to one demographic. Until recently, analysts said discount shoppers were mostly of one generation or income level. Today, we know better. Recent coverage from Inc. tells us that more than half of millennial shoppers “always” look for a deal before buying online, as opposed to only 40% of their Baby Boomer counterparts.

They love the chase. The thrill of the hunt stems from a gaming spirit, not necessarily a stingy one. As cited by PYMNTS.com, the psychology of bargain shopping creates a level of satisfaction that a shopper has found something special. By purchasing something at a discount, bargain hunters feel like they’ve won something. Plus, in this time of great economic uncertainty, people need to make smarter financial decisions than ever before, so while there is still the thrill of the hunt, it has also become about necessity.

They’re not difficult to please. Along the same lines, sale spotters shouldn’t be viewed as annoying, especially right now. According to a recent consumer survey from GlobalData, 53% of bargain hunters in lockdown said that they would like to see news about money-saving initiatives adopted by brands during the pandemic. Everyone is looking for ways to save money and stretch their hard-earned dollars further, so offering any kind of sale, deal or bundle is going to appeal to bargain hunters.

How to meet the bargain hunter’s expectations

With bargain hunters actively seeking out deals, and potentially comparing prices at other retailers, pointing them in the direction of your seasonal promotions is key.

Prominently display sales. Sale seekers scan for clearance sections and bargain bins first, their well-trained eyes spotting discount signs and sections. This contrasts with the wandering, display-browsing meandering of typical shoppers, who look at items first, signage second. Online, bargain hunters also prioritise clearance and sales. Instead of scrolling through your home page, they may click your navigation menu or “Shop All” tab, hoping for a festive season sale option among the usual FAQ, about page, return policy and contact links.

Understand shoppers’ online referral sources, and pay it forward. Did website visitors arrive from a link shared in a sale-swapping group full of online promo enthusiasts? Or from an Instagram post featuring your item in a gift list of great seasonal deals? You can see how uniquely motivated each visitor is by understanding where they came from, and also help them brag about their bargain to others. According to Consumer Reports, only 10% of delighted deal winners keep the news to themselves. Keep the excitement going by providing them an affiliate link to share their experience.

Make your deals readily accessible. If no deal is detected, they’ll move on, and fast. Check your online store’s bounce rate for disappointed value shoppers who could be skipping out. Specifically, you’ll see visitors go to product pages, sniff around for a telltale price-slash graphic or sale badge, and, if unsatisfied, leave. Another common exit point for bargain hunters is the checkout page. Shoppers may pause mid-buy to open a new tab and hunt promo codes before ultimately deciding against the purchase.

How to catch their eye

Because bargain hunters are tantalised by savings, it’s all about making it appealing and fun to cash in on every great deal they find.

Offer COVID-19 discounts or bundles. You can also offer ways for people to buy in bulk, something that consumers are doing a lot of during the pandemic. It is also smart to emphasise that if a consumer likes your business, supporting it now during these trying times is going to help you stay in business and weather the storm.

Offer multiple ways to “win.” Use coupon codes to offer a deeper price cut on sale items. Or incentivise the purchase of multiple gift cards by offering a pack at a cheaper price. You could also offer a one-time discount for joining your email list or subscribing to your newsletter (which you can also use to tell them about your next big seasonal sale).

Make it easy to share their haul. Use a hashtag for your promotion so happy buyers can snap a selfie with your product or leave an easy review of your product online. You might also consider referral incentives so their whole network hears of their happy experience.

Tease the next win. The value in a bargain buyer is repeat business. Drive them to return to your online store by enticing them with the dates of the next clearance event, complimentary gift wrapping on their next purchase, or loyalty points to accrue toward free products and services.

Reaching Bargain Hunters Checklist

  • Prioritise sales on your site or in your store.
  • Offer discounts and incentives for referring your business to friends and family.
  • Give shoppers multiple ways to “win” and get the best deal.
  • Provide discount bundles that make it easy to save.
  • Encourage sharing their bargain haul on social media to reach new shoppers.
  • Tease out your next great deal to build anticipation.

Discounts and promotions not only help keep bargain hunters on budget, but they’re also a way to gamify the experience and make them feel proud of their purchases. While major stores offer their flashiest promotions leading up to Christmas, small businesses can also get involved and engage with their shoppers, both during the festive season and at other times of the year. By doing so, sellers can create a shopping experience that draws in bargain hunters all year ‘round.