Flash sales can provide great opportunities to sell a large quantity of products in a short period of time, but they might 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 to make over ten times your usual daily sales within two hours or less.
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 million visitors and close to 1,000 orders per minute during the show's broadcast. That's a substantial increase, and would require some preparation to make sure the flash sale goes smoothly.
Plan in advance
If you expect 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 you should 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, while customers already in the process of checking out can complete their purchases. This lets you to make changes and resolve the issue in the background, and lets you to assure users that you're working to resolve the issue and resume your sale.
Create a theme with event-specific collections and product pages
You should 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
Check whether multiple locations are enabled in your store. If they are, then you might want to 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.
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 reach out to 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 can display poor performance during an extremely high volume event. Because a checkout can't be completed if shipping rates aren't calculated, consider disabling shipping apps for the duration of your sale and setting up flat rates instead.
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're not using Shopify Payments, then reach out to your 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, due to 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 these options for the duration of your sale.