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How to Run an Effective End of Summer Sale

Last Modified: February 28, 2023

How to Run an Effective End of Summer Sale

Don’t worry! You still have a lot of summer left since it technically ends around the 22nd or 23rd of September each year (and with global warming, potentially never!). But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be preparing to run your end-of-the-summer sale at your online e-commerce shop. And now’s the time to start prepping for it.

Part of the early start is that many Americans see Labor Day (September 2nd) as the official sign of the waning summer, and that’s when they expect to see not only Labor Day sales, but close-out-of-the-season sales as they head into a Fall mindset. And it’s not uncommon for the best sales of the year to take place over Labor Day as well, so customers are accustomed to seeking out and finding great deals.

Let’s break down how to go about prepping and launching your end of the summer sale.

Take stock of your overstock


Savvy customers and savvy businesses align at this point in the year: now’s the time companies want to get rid of their excess stock of products in order to make room for the new hotness that they’ll want to be pushing during the holiday season. That means offering big discounts on overstock items that shoppers will be lapping up.

Putting aside the fact that last year’s post-mortem should have prevented excessive unsold inventory, now is the time to check your warehouse of exactly how much you have to liquidate. Knowing the number left lets you add that piece of information to each product’s description in order to push urgency to your visiting shoppers. This is a powerful psychological tool to increase conversions.

Bundle for fun and profit

Bundle for fun and profit

Pushing overstock can sometimes be as simple as including these items along-side other more popular items, or bundling a few of your overstock items together. Sounds intuitive, but there is a secret to bundling that you might not know.

According to “The Dynamic Effects of Bundling as a Product Strategy” a research paper out of Carnegie Mellon University, there is a specific type of bundling that yields the best results. As Forbes summarized from the paper:

The researchers found that consumers might actually value the bundle less than they would value the individual component products, that is there was a “negative synergy” associated with the bundle. Despite this, they found that Nintendo sold the most products when it offered a bundle option — a video game console and a game sold together as one package- — coupled with an option to buy each piece individually.

Sales from this “mixed bundling” offering were estimated to be much stronger than a scenario where such a bundle was not offered.

In short, only offering bundles led to negative results. Offering both a bundle and the choice to buy each item separately led to much higher sales in total. Be sure to keep this psychology in mind as you offer bundles.

Discount dynamically for dynamite dealmaking

Discounts in a shop

You’ll obviously be discounting your overstock items, but the question is how much? Well, there’s the easy way and the other easy way (that might cost a bit).

The first way is relying on the rule of 1/3rds: a third of your remaining inventory of product A will be discounted by X, the next third by Y, and the last third by Z. For example, say you start with a 25% discount around Labor Day. After either the first third sells or the first week goes by, then you can further discount the item by, say, 35%. Repeat until most of the product is sold. This method is basically manual dynamic pricing.

The other method is more of an automated dynamic pricing. If your store uses Shopify, there are apps that can do this for you once you input the parameters you want. These apps make it easy to set up rules to automatically adjust prices lower as time goes on, or if inventory doesn’t sell as much as you want to.

Either way you go, changing your prices over time is a better way to push product during your end of summer sale, rather than just setting and forgetting an overall discount.

Activate your affiliate marketing team

People with chatclouds

Now’s also the time to prepare your affiliate marketing reps to make their individual push about the upcoming end of summer sale. Keep in mind the 3 I’s of this process:

Inform: Be it through a newsletter, a private Facebook group, or old fashioned telephone calls, communicating with your reps is the first step in activating their efforts. Let them know exactly when the end of summer landing page will be going live, what products will be on discount, which ones they might want to personally push, and anything else you want them to know as the sale looms.

IncentivizeMotivate your affiliate reps with a limited time bump in commissions, or a bonus for selling. As most of their traveling and summer vacation activities will be winding down, they’ll most likely be back to the grind. This might make it the perfect time to establish a leader board to foster healthy competition between your reps. The person with the most sales at the end of summer gets a new car! …Or a bonus that’s more appropriate for your business.

Ideas: We’ll say this again and again, don’t rely on your affiliates and Influencers to do all the heavy lifting for you when it comes to these promotions. It behooves you to come up with the cool and fun ideas that they can easily push to their followers. Be it a contest to great images/videos to memes, don’t sleep on generating the ideas that will make your sale really take off.

Winter is coming. Restock.


And now, with all the room you’ve freed up after moving inventory, start stocking up on what you’ll be selling during the holiday shopping season. It’s just around the corner, even if it still 95 degrees out!

Happy selling!

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Written by

Ruthie Carey
Ruthie Carey