Flash sales can provide great opportunities to sell a large quantity of products in a short period of time, but they can require some preparation if you're expecting a large increase in your checkouts. In most cases, special preparations are recommended only if you're running a flash sale and you expect tens of thousands of customers to start a checkout within a few minutes.
For example, Shadi usually gets 10,000 visitors and 100 orders per day. They're running a flash sale and expect 50,000 visitors and 1000 orders over a period of 24 hours. This sale doesn't require any special preparation. Later, Shadi's business is featured on a major network, and they set up a flash sale to take advantage of the feature. They expect a significant increase in demand, with tens of thousands of customers competing for inventory, with stock selling out in minutes each time it's restocked. That's a substantial increase, and requires some preparation to make sure the flash sale goes smoothly.
Plan in advance
If you determine that your flash sale will generate enough orders that you need to prepare in advance, then you should start as soon as possible. When appropriate, start your preparations weeks in advance to make sure you have time.
Prepare preview products
If you want to provide a preview of the products you're offering during your flash sale, then create unique preview products separate from the ones that you'll actually be offering for sale when the event begins. When you publish products to your online store with inventory available, customers are able to complete a checkout with those products. While some theme modifications can hide Add to cart actions, these shouldn't be relied on to stop customers from purchasing.
Create a branded password page
In the event that a technical issue with a third party affects your ability to serve your customers, the best course of action is to lock your storefront to prevent the issue from getting any worse. If you activate your password page, then new visitors are unable to create a new checkout in your store, but customers already in the process of checking out can complete their purchases. Locking your storefront lets you to make changes and resolve the issue in the background, and assure users that you're working to resolve the issue and resume your sale.
Create a theme with event-specific collections and product pages
Create a collection specifically for your sale items and, if possible, a theme that highlights and simplifies your product pages. Showing streamlined collections and product pages during the sale provides an easier, faster checkout experience for your customers. In particular, consider disabling the following:
- Collection filtering menus
- Recommended products
- Social network feeds
- Slideshow or carousel views
- Popups or upsell functions
Check fulfillment locations
Verify whether multiple locations are enabled in your store. If they are, then you should consider disabling fulfillment locations that aren't fulfilling online orders for the duration of the sale. You can re-enable them after your sale is complete.
Disable customer accounts
Consider whether customer accounts are necessary for the duration of the sale. If not, then they can be disabled for the duration of the event.
Disabling customer accounts doesn't prevent orders from being associated with customers. All customers still receive order confirmations, and your customers will be able to review their order history after customer accounts have been re-enabled.
Capture payments manually
If you capture payments automatically, then you should consider changing your settings to capture payments manually for the duration of your flash sale. Capturing payments manually avoids potentially high credit card fees in the event of overselling or cancelled orders, and allows you to review and verify that orders are legitimate before the payment is completed and the fulfillment process starts.
Review third-party functions
For large flash sales, you need to make sure that your third-party integrations can handle the increase in traffic to your store.
If you have third-party apps as part of your checkout process, then you should contact the developers with an estimate of the volume of orders you expect and the duration of your sale. They can provide information on what their app can handle. If they're not confident that the app can support the amount of checkouts that you expect, then consider disabling the app for the duration of your sale.
Shipping apps typically display poor performance during extremely high volume events. Because a checkout can't be completed if shipping rates aren't provided, consider disabling shipping apps and carrier-calculated rates for the duration of your sale. Instead, set up custom flat rates directly in your Shopify admin. For example, if you have a shipping app installed in your Shopify admin that provides calculated shipping rates to your customers, then you should consider disabling the app, and use your own custom flat rates instead. Using your own custom flat rates lets your customers complete the checkout without needing to wait for shipping rates to be calculated.
If you have private apps installed in your store, then you should review them to make sure that they are as efficient as possible and that the API call rate is sufficient. If you aren't sure that an app can handle the volume you're expecting, then consider disabling it for the duration of your event. Refer to our guide on maximizing your use of the Shopify API to learn more.
If you don't use Shopify Payments, then contact your payment provider to ensure they can support the volume of sales you expect. Consider setting up a second payment provider in case your primary provider isn't able to keep pace with your orders. Make sure to test your providers beforehand to ensure there aren't any problems for your customers at checkout.
External payment providers
An external payment provider is a service that directs customers to complete their payment outside of Shopify, and includes payment options that allow paying later or partial payments. These payment options can result in overselling of merchandise, because of the time needed to transmit the checkout to a third-party service and back again with completed payment information. If you offer a payment option like this, then consider disabling it for the duration of your sale.