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3 Tips for a Successful Clearance Sale

Posted by Liz Schulte on 6/6/22 7:00 AM
Topics: bookstore events, revenue generating ideas for college stores, increasing bookstore sales

Summer is a fantastic time to clear out old or dated inventory to make room for your new fall merchandise. However, summer also means fewer people on campus which leads to less foot traffic for in-store sales. To maximize store traffic this summer, offer shoppers great bargains online and in-store.

Three tips to market your store's clearance saleClearance sales help make room for new inventory as well as serve as a useful tool for encouraging first-time shoppers with your store, especially when your store implements a diverse marketing strategy. We have gathered a few marketing tips to help get you started.

Three Tips to Market Your Summer Clearance Sale

  • Email and text message
    Text message is a great, immediate way to get in touch with customers — if your store has that capability. Keep your messages short and to the point, link directly to the sale items on your site, and create a sense of urgency that they need to act now or they might miss the deal. Also, use text messages sparingly. If you are sending out daily messages or bombarding customers with sale posts, it is easy to unsubscribe.

    Email might seem overly simplistic, but it remains an effective marketing strategy. Through email, you can reach the most potential shoppers, visually show them what they could get and personalize your messaging for different target audiences like students, alumni, faculty, etc.

    When creating your email marketing campaign, keep a couple things in mind.
    1. Craft a compelling email subject line
      Every part of your email only has a limited opportunity to catch the recipients’ attention. Consider the subject line wording and how it will entice customers to open it without seeming like spam.

      Let’s take a look at a sampling of email headlines sitting in my inbox:
      - Check out our newest styles!
      - What’s hot for summer?
      - Happy Pride Month! Celebrate in style.
      - Memorial Day is here — Don’t miss our 2-day sale
      - Get 20-60% off literally anything

      There are a few things we can learn and implement from this collection of email subject lines. First, consider which one you would be most likely to click on. Personally, the 20 to 60% off everything is the most intriguing to me. It is specific about the savings I can get. Next, I would be interested in the 2-day sale because I know it is only available for a limited amount of time. However, the check out our latest styles subject line is vague and doesn’t offer a tangible incentive. So, let’s bring this together.

      - Exclusive 1-day sale! 70% off clearance = Best. Day. Ever.
      - Update your summer look with $5 logoed shirts — 2 days only!
      - Your saving expires in 24 hours. BOGO cute socks, sweatshirts and more!

      Be specific about the bargain they are getting, the limited time frame they have to get it and why they need it.

    2. Keep the email succinct and visual
      Make sure the deal customers are getting is front and center (along with any promo codes they might need), show a sampling of what’s available, and link directly to the sale page on your website.
  • Word of mouth
    Word of mouth is easily the most effective marketing, but it is also the hardest to implement and predict. However, there are a few things you can do to encourage customers to tell their friends about the great deals they get in your store.
    1. Provide a great deal
      Whether during a sale or buyback, customers who feel like they have gotten a great price will tell their friends and word will spread.

    2. Focus on customer service
      Friendly and familiar customer service willing to go that extra step to make the process convenient wins over shoppers.

    3. Incentivize referrals
      Need more product reviews on your website? More social media traffic? Offer shoppers who have recently purchased something from you a coupon or savings if they leave a review or post on social media (tagging your store in the post).

  • Social Media
    Social media is a great way to drum up in-the-moment excitement for your sale. Post pictures of the great deals people can get, use student models, make fun videos, fashion recommendations, etc. The best part of social media is you have the ability to approach marketing from so many different directions. Determine which audience you are speaking to and create a variety of marketing options that might appeal to that group.

    Some ideas:
    1. Create fun videos where you style different pieces that you sell in the store together to create cohesive looks. For an example, check out the Stitch Fix videos on Instagram.

    2. Promote an upcoming flash sale and then post the sale items individually during the time of the sale.

    3. Wear your store merchandise in videos or images you post online. Even if the image is selling a water bottle, make sure the model is also wearing clothes that can be purchased in your store.

Additionally, you have the option to create additional sales channels through Facebook and Instagram. Learn how to increase college store sales with social media shopping.

What marketing strategies have worked best in your store? Share in the comments below.


Download the 2021-2022 College Store Social Media Marketing Guide white paper  to learn simple ways you can promote your store, streamline posting and improve  engagement. Download Now  


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