This article is part of Square’s definitive guide on eCommerce best practices during the holidays. Explore the guide to learn how to curate a festive and stress-free shopping experience for your customers and stay competitive.
The holiday shopping season calls to mind iconic window displays and a rush of shoppers, with retailers pulling out all the stops to delight holiday buyers. But some shoppers are only looking for one thing: great deals. Enter the bargain hunter.
These sale-scouting, coupon-clipping, deal-detecting buyers pop up in every buyer segment. The National Retail Federation (NRF) reports that 76% of shoppers consider discounts and promotions to be either very or extremely important to them. Recent research from Hawk Incentives puts that number closer to 97%.
Never is this truer than during the winter holiday season, when these competitive shoppers hop online to scout quality gifts and all the trimmings — for less. Here’s what businesses need to know about capturing the attention of the bargain hunter.
Understanding the bargain hunter
According to the NRF, 70% of shoppers said the best time for deals is the holiday season. For bargain hunters who appreciate the thrill of a deal, this really is the happiest time of year.
They’re strategic. Bargain hunters do their homework before committing to a purchase. They’re not swayed by the need for instant gratification, the NRF reports. In fact, nearly half of shoppers won’t buy something if it’s not on sale and another 85% said they would back out of a deal if it’s not on sale, choosing instead to wait.
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 miserly one. As cited by PYMNTS.com, the psychology of bargain shopping creates a level of satisfaction that a shopper has found something special. Furthermore, by purchasing something at a discount, bargain hunters feel like they’ve won something. Clocks announcing a sale, for example, are one way retailers trigger a sense of competition between shoppers and create excitement.
They’re not difficult to please. Along the same lines, sale spotters shouldn’t be viewed as troublesome. Pop in to an online forum like the 200,000-member Money Saver Bargain Hunter, and you’ll find a joyful, thankful, delighted online community.
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 holiday 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 meander of typical shoppers, who look at items first, signage second. Online, bargain hunters also prioritize clearance and sales. Instead of scrolling through your home page, they may click your navigation menu or “Shop All” tab, hoping for a holiday sale option among the usual FAQ, about, 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 coupon-clipping enthusiasts? Or from a blog 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 score 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.
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How to catch their eye
Because bargain hunters are tantalized by savings, it’s all about making it appealing and fun to cash in on every great deal they find.
Create FOMO. Offer holiday flash sales or a deal of the day, or create a coupon or announcement pop-up showing your dwindling supply of inventory. Create a sense of urgency around your seasonal promotions with similar tactics — such as using an online countdown clock, or sending email reminders that there are only so many days left of your winter sale — to let them know your special prices won’t be around forever.
Offer multiple ways to “win.” Use coupon codes to offer a deeper price cut on sale items. Or incentivize 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 and gush their joy. You might also consider referral incentives to ensure 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 tantalizing 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.
Shoppers love holiday sales, some more than others. 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 big-box stores offer their flashiest promotions during the holidays, small businesses can also get involved and engage with their shoppers. By doing so, sellers can create a shopping experience that draws in bargain hunters long after the last holiday sale.
The holidays can be the busiest time of year for businesses. From helping shoppers find the perfect gift to keeping up with your inventory, sellers need to wear multiple hats. Square is here to help. We have all the tools you need to start, run, and grow your business, whether you’re selling in person, online, or both. And we’ve made all our tools to work together as one system, saving you time and money — and making decisions easier. So you, too, can enjoy the most wonderful time of the year. See how Square works.