Last Minute Deals: Good or Bad for Retailers?

Richard F.


Last minute deals became big for retailers when e-commerce arrived on the retail scene. First, the last minute deal scheme whipped up travel agents into a froth, next were dealers selling small, easily shipped items and software. Groupon was the internet’s first discount e-commerce site. Since then, others like LivingSocial, Tippr and BuyWithMe have been burning rubber and catching up.

Some deal websites make good money while customers, well most of them, are happy with their bargains. But what about retailers? Are last minute deals also good for them too? They can be, if they follow the following guidelines.

Rule # 1 – Provide Genuine Value

William Congreve, not Shakespeare, penned the immortal phrase "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned." around 1697. These days he might have added, "or customers grumbling on social media". By all means use last minute deals to motivate customers to make the purchase. Just make sure your products sold are of the same quality standards as products not purchased as a deal.

Rule # 2 – Don’t Cheapen Your Image

As a general rule of thumb, it is bad practice to sell identical goods to different customers at different prices. If a customer finds out that he or she has paid more for a product than someone else, they will become disgruntled, lose respect for your brand and perceive your products to be worth less than what they paid for. If retailers are going to offer last minute deals then these offers should either mention that it is exclusively for online, immediate purchases or simply discount the price of the goods across all platforms and stores.

Rule # 3 – Beware Remorse Factors

Last minute customers have a habit of holidaying where it is cheap, and buying bargains because they are. While special deals are great for rolling stock, customers seldom think them through as carefully as when paying the full price. If they take delivery of the product this is often the first time they weigh it up against their perception of quality. The pleasure of that extra turnover can be sullied by complaints, returns and worse.

Rule # 4 – Stock up to Discount

Last minute deals are a good idea for retailers trying to get rid of excess or outdated inventory. This scenario aside, the best last minute deals for retailers are those where they negotiate discount from their suppliers first, and then pass some of these savings on to customers at their traditional mark-ups less a few percent to stay ahead of the competition. They need to be smart to avoid the tender trap of being caught in the middle.

Successful last-minute deals are thought-through marketing strategies, not necessarily a means to shed surplus stock in a hurry. Knowing the difference is part of the solution to making last minute deals work for you too.


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