Opinion: what are the alternatives to offering discounts?

Many businesses turn to discounts when they look to grow their customer base. It may work in the short term by driving one-off sales, however, these customers won’t usually develop any affinity with your company – they’ll be hard to retain. Instead, in the long run, you could end up with an audience of bargain hunters expecting low prices, rather than a growing base of loyal customers who value your product. Below, we explore some alternatives that can help grow your business. 

Gain loyalty with a solid program

For a start, developing a strong loyalty program can help encourage one-off buyers to become long-term supporters of your brand. Instead of giving discounts to any buyer, a loyalty program operates by incentivising purchases by offering discounts in the future. For instance, you might offer customers a discount after they’ve shopped with you five times, or if they’ve spent over a certain amount with your business. This can encourage customers to stay with you in order to benefit in the future.

Make use of gift cards

One of the downsides of discounts is that you don’t know exactly how much value you’re giving away. This can make it difficult to calculate financial projections and plan for the future. However, gift cards solve this issue. By giving away a set value through small gift cards, you can work out exactly how much value you’re offering.

Free shipping

Instead of discounts, you can consider other perks that might entice sales. One option is free shipping. This can seem similar to offering a discount, but research suggests that the offer of free shipping is incredibly compelling to consumers. You can implement free shipping by offering it on orders that reach a certain value to ensure you don’t give away too much value as well.

Charitable donations

Another option is to offer a charitable donation instead. Consumers are more concerned with brand ethics than ever before. By demonstrating your brand’s interest in social responsibility, you can attract and retain more customers. You can offer to give back five per cent of each purchase’s value to charity to entice more sales.

Offering widespread discounts can damage your brand in the long run. However, by selecting one of the alternatives above, you can build your customer base without putting your business in jeopardy in the future.