eCommerce Email Marketing: Flash Sale – Weekly Spotlight

Eradium ecommerce email marketing blog flash sale

eCommerce Email Marketing: Flash Sale – Weekly Spotlight

Would you buy or not? Flash Sale

This article is a part of our weekly series of posts about eCommerce Email Marketing Best Practices.

In this eCommerce Email Marketing weekly spotlight we review examples of email campaigns from Bed Bath and Beyond, Lowes and Puma.

Flash sale:

A very short period of time when a store sells products at much lower prices than usual: A reduction in consumer spending has caused some stores to hold occasional flash sales, lasting just one day.

Another definition:

Deal-of-the-day (also called flash sales or one deal a day) is an ecommerce business model in which a website offers a single product for sale for a period of 24 to 36 hours. Potential customers register as members of the deal-a-day websites and receive online offers and invitations by email or social networks.

 Invoking urgency in the sale can increase conversion by as much as 25%.

Urgency is one of the most basic but important tactics used in marketing campaigns. There have been many new businesses that have been created on this principle alone, such as Gilt, Beyond The Rack, Zulily and many others.

Creating effective flash campaign requires creativity, analytics and planning. Putting “sale ends in midnight” in a weekly newsletter might only work once but will quickly lose its effectiveness once your audience knows it is just a sales gimmick.

Urgency must feel real and actionable at the same time. Urgency promotion without a clear plan of action is not going to generate the desired lift in sales.

Do not forget to lead your consumer on the easiest path to conversion once the urge to purchase has been awaken.



All emails will be rated from 1* to 5*, where 1 means poor and 5 is great.

We review on a weekly basis:


  1. Colors – colors have good contrast, consistent
  2. Typography – fonts have readable size, clear titles
  3. Images – clear, visible, easy to understand
  4. Formatting – blocks follow each other in an easy to navigate pattern
  5. Mobile Optimized – all elements are visible and formatted correctly on the mobile phone


  1. Subject line – signals urgency and clear main offer that will be found inside the email
  2. Clear offer – one main offer with clear call to action
  3. Urgency to purchase – time, stock, shipping that motivates the buyer to purchase
  4. Product highlights – clear description of the products to evoke the interest of the reader

Bed Bath & Beyond

Bed Bath & Beyond a chain of domestic merchandise retail stores in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico. Formed in 1971, the stores sell goods primarily for the bedroom and bathroom, as well as kitchen and dining room. The company is included in the S&P 500 and Global 1200 Indices and the NASDAQ-100 Index. It is also counted among the Fortune 500 and the Forbes Global 2000 as well.

Since the liquidation of Linens ‘n Things, Bed Bath & Beyond has few major retail competitors except Walmart, Target, J. C. Penney, and some mid-sized players like Pier 1 Imports. Companies such as Crate & Barrel, IKEA and the numerous Williams-Sonoma companies (e.g. Pottery Barn and West Elm) are also competitors.

Email 1: Bed Bath & Beyond

Subject Line: KitchenAid Savings Event

Eradium ecommerce email marketing blog flash sale -Bed Bath & Beyond 1
Eradium ecommerce email marketing blog flash sale -Bed Bath & Beyond 2


  1. Colors: 5*– The email has one of the best color combinations I have seen. What a creative way to showcase a very traditional product with all available colors to make it stand out and appeal to a wide range of audience.
  2. Fonts: 4* – Very clear fonts; good color combination as well as readability.
  3. Images: 5*– Vey sharp, clear and inviting
  4. Formatting: 4* – All the product blocks line up in a perfectly aligned puzzle, all the products look connected to each other, there is a very cohesive visual display to the entire email
  5. Mobile Optimized: 4 *–The email looks very bright, fresh and easy to read


  1. Subject line: 5* – It is very specific, and clearly indicates that the offer is for people who are in the market for a Kitchen Aid products. The click trough rate should be high.
  2. Clear offer: 4* – There is a very specific offer for specific products and the discounts being given. The whole email is centered on one brand and 1 type of product line.
  3. Urgency to purchase: 5* – each product has a very specific promotion associated with that is clearly labeled and visible
  4. Product highlights: 5* – There is a great, big and clear picture, with name and pricing. This helps to increase conversion since the shoppers that will click are already familiar with the product.

 Overall rating: 4.5*


This email is a great example of a single brand promotion. It has a very clear offer, combined with urgency. Every product is beautifully showcased: it is relevant, has a description, and a direct call to action. The layout is very attractive, and it even shows how some of the products can be used. If this email was sent to a targeted list, it could have a high click-through and conversion rate. Combining great creative with clear and urgent offer is a recipe for a great marketing campaign.


Lowe’s Companies, Inc. is an American company that operates a chain of retail home improvement and appliance stores in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Founded in 1946 in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, the chain has 1,840 stores in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Expansion into Canada began in 2007 with the opening of a store in Hamilton, Ontario in early 2008. Lowe’s started the construction of two stores in the Mexican city of Monterrey officially entering the Mexican market.In 2011, Lowe’s released plans to build over 150 stores in Australia (as Masters Home Improvement) over the next five years, hoping to compete with the A$46 billion industry. Lowe’s Companies, Inc. is ranked #52 on the Fortune 500 list.As of 2010, the chain is based in Mooresville, North Carolina. Lowe’s is the second-largest hardware chain in the United States behind The Home Depot and ahead of Menards. Globally, Lowe’s is also the second-largest hardware chain, again behind The Home Depot but ahead of the European stores B&Q and OBI.

Email 2: Lowes

Subject Line: Outdoor Essentials FLASH SALE-Get a $99 Lawn Mower and MORE!

Eradium ecommerce email marketing blog flash sale - Lowes 1


  1. Colors: 2*– The chosen colors do not work well together with the subject line and the overall campaign messaging.
  2. Fonts: 3*– Fonts are too light and blend with the white background, hard to read and not eye catchy.
  3. Images: 2* – The images are very plain, fuzzy, small and not attractive to get attention unless the shopper already familiar with those items.
  4. Formatting: 3*The black border around the top 3 items and no border under the last three items creates a visual separation with no particular reason.
  5. Mobile Optimized: 3 *– The black color of the main banner is too overpowering, and the border does not display properly.


  1. Subject line: 4* inviting and will generate interest to get people to open as it generic enough to appeal to a wide crowd and using flash sale in the subject line indicates urgency
  2. Clear offer: 4* – The email clearly shows a group of products that are on sale for this particular window of time.
  3. Urgency to purchase: 5* -There is a very short window to get the discounted price on the items included in the promotion
  4. Product highlights: 4* –There are all the necessities-price, name, picture, description and a link to the product page

Overall rating: 3.3*


The idea of a clearly defined flash sale is an excellent way to generate urgency. The creative design however is not well executed. To have a big black banner for a spring flash sale is pretty depressing.

In a successful flash sale, it is important to give the shopper at least some notice, especially for big items. Giving only a few hours to purchase something for a store that usually does not support this model is eliminating a lot of potential buyers as they are not expecting this when they open the email. 


PUMA is one of the world’s leading Sports Brands, designing, developing, selling and marketing footwear, apparel and accessories. For over 65 years, PUMA has established a history of making fast product designs for the fastest athletes on the planet. PUMA offers performance and sport-inspired lifestyle products in categories such as Football, Running, Training and Fitness, Golf, and Motorsports. It engages in exciting collaborations with renowned design brands such as Alexander McQueen and Mihara Yasuhiro to bring innovative and fast designs to the sports world. The PUMA Group owns the brands PUMA, Cobra Golf, Tretorn, Dobotex and Brandon. The company distributes its products in more than 120 countries, employs more than 10,000 people worldwide, and is headquartered in Herzogenaurach/Germany.

Email 3: Puma

Subject Lines:

  1. ‏Sale ends in 3, 2, 1
  2. Our made-for-lazy-Sundays SALE.‏
Eradium ecommerce email marketing blog flash sale -Puma 1
Eradium ecommerce email marketing blog flash sale -Puma 2


  1. Colors: 3*-There is no prominent color; the background and the font appear to blend. Only the red buttons seem to provide any life to the email.
  2. Fonts: 2* – The fonts are not sharp, too thin to read over the dark background.
  3. Images: 3* – Having only one image is a very bold statement, using one of the top soccer players to advertise sports shoes is a good connection but it is not enough. After all, this email is not selling tickets to a soccer match but running shoes.
  4. Formatting: 3* – The white line under 30% is overlapping with the text.
  5. Mobile Optimized: 3* – the email is not resizing, it just the same email as on the desktop


  1. Subject line: 4* – The subject lines are short, precise and inviting to open the email
  2. Clear offer: 4* –  There is 30% of shoes, and there is only primary offer, which central and straight forward
  3. Urgency to purchase: 5*– Very clear message about the sale ending, in a very prominent location
  4. Product highlights: 2* – there is no product information in this email at all. The email should at least feature information on the shoes Mario was wearing. There needs to be some product information especially for the people that are not very familiar with Puma product lines.

 Overall rating: 3.2


This email is a great example of “urgent” type of sale. Puma sent few emails in sequence notifying the shopper of the sale and urging them to make a purchase. The use of similar creative is a great way to remind and also invoke interest in the sale. This approach was an original idea that was simply poorly executed. The lack of product information and poor creative push this email into the “not so great” pile.

Just for Fun

Here are images from the email I have received from lululemon. The use of such language in an email campaign, which is not targeted to a specific group, is a pretty bold statement. What if a tween opened this email? How do you explain to them what this means? Marketers have to be more responsible in the messaging that gets send out from their brand. They are obligated to remain professional and not alienate potential shoppers. Until they can guarantee that the target audience receiving this email is comfortable with such language, such language should not be used.

Eradium ecommerce email marketing blog flash sale - Lululemon


Flash Sale is an excellent technique to create urgency and increase conversion rate. However, they should be well planned and only used limited times per year; otherwise customers will not treat them seriously.

8 Effective tactics for a successful flash sale:

  1. Generate interest by advertising that such sale is coming 1- 2 weeks prior but do not disclose the products
  2. A few days before send a teaser preview with some of the products and others not fully visible
  3. On the day of the sale send an email with all items. If there are too many items, then put no more than ten products and the rest should link to a special promo page. The sale should not be more than 24 hours.
  4. Advertise the available quantity and exact window of the sale and provide clear instructions at every step of the way. If coupon codes are required, make sure they are available and adequately tested.
  5. Send a second email during the day reminding that the sale end is coming and include updated quantities if available, cross out items that already sold out
  6. Make sure that the URL from the promotion page links to correct product pages and provide as much information as needed to make a quick decision by the shopper
  7. Send an email with a final reminder that the sale is ending 1 hour prior to the promotion end.
  8. Send a “Thank you” message to all about how successful the email promotion was and also when the customers may expect the next one.
Anna Battrick

Anna Battrick is Eradium’s Director of Ecommerce Services, has an extensive background in retail marketing and project management. With over 10 years of managing complex projects from inception to completion while always maintaining “it can be done” spirit. The world of retail is not only a professional interest but also a personal hobby which lets Anna see the other side of retail, from a shopper perspective. This helps create engaging marketing programs that speak personally to the shoppers interests and engage them in a conversation.

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