11 Secret Strategies to Drive eCommerce Sales Without Discounting

by | Jun 21 2021

Every performance marketer responsible for eCommerce sales needs an arsenal of approaches to drive revenue and profit.

For brands that are happy to offer prudent discounts, the list of available approaches is very long. From voucher and coupon code offers to new customer and customer reactivation offers, to escalating discounts for cart abandonment messaging. That list goes on.

The merchandising year is now full of promotion periods in which consumers expect, and retailers respond with, significant price-off discounts. These periods of seasonal discounts include:

– Amazon Prime Day
– Black Friday and Cyber Monday
– Boxing Day
– 9/9, 10/10, 11/11 Singles Day, and 12/12 days in China and throughout Southeast Asia
– Back to School
– Mother’s Day
– Dads and Grads
– End of Year Clearance

The advent of flash sales and flash sale websites and apps has also contributed to the ubiquity of discount offers.

In short, online sales and a blizzard of discount code offers have made digital marketing synonymous with price-off selling.

Nevertheless, a substantial number of brands believe that percentage or dollars off discounts are something to be avoided at all costs. They charge their marketing teams with delivering promotional tactics that eliminate the need for deep discounting. For some, this is to preserve essential profit margin, brand equity, or both.

Merchants that sell items from other brands – especially luxury brands – often recognize that their agreements with those companies sometimes prevent price-off discounting.

Creativity is critical

At RevLifter, we work with a variety of high-end retailers and other brands that do not promote through blanket discounts and coupons. Instead, our technology is used to help drive potential customer acquisition as well as customer retention without always relying on such offers.

It’s essential to identify an array of new eCommerce promotion ideas to deliver effective marketing campaign results. If that seems difficult, here are 11 strategies that don’t involve percentage discount, price off, and other pricing strategy concepts.

1. Get personal

There’s no better way to deliver improved sales lift than personalizing your promotional messages. By promoting the items most likely to appeal to customers, brands can go a long way toward boosting sales without having to resort to promo codes.

Personalization is the foundation for the RevLifter suite of products, which are used by many discount-eschewing brands to improve promotional lift while remaining true to their non-discounting pricing models.

Our platform starts by analyzing a host of customer shopping signals to develop an individual profile for each customer. From there we leverage AI and machine learning to deliver personalized offer pages, on-site messages, and much more.

Additional tools like RevWallet give customers easy access to bundling opportunities and other types of non-discount incentives that drive sales of the items that are most likely to interest them. If the brand prefers to avoid discounts, we simply eliminate those options from the deal development engine.

2. Gift-with-purchase programs

Many luxury brands leverage the free gift approach in both the on-premise and online store environments.

The cosmetics industry, in particular, focuses on this as a critical strategy. Pioneered by beauty entrepreneur Estee Lauder in 1946, gift-with-purchase offers are now an essential part of cosmetics merchandising, and a good way of using excess stock as a sales tool.

The idea has also been applied to other verticals, like apparel, electronics, toys, health products, and accessories, which are now increasingly reliant on this approach to sales promotion.

3. Loyalty points programs

Many luxury retailers leverage points programs in lieu of a discounting strategy. Points offer advantages to such merchants in that they also stimulate future purchases, which helps drive customer loyalty.

While the number of people that are motivated by loyalty points is probably more limited than those who love a sale, these customers can be extremely lucrative for a retailer. And when you create a long-term relationship cost-effectively, everybody wins.

4. Promoting what’s new

A sizable chunk of buyers like to have access to the newest thing. This is just as true for apparel merchants as it is for those within electronics, sporting goods, and many other categories.

By promoting early access to the latest items, you can stimulate increased demand without having to resort to money-off incentives. It’s definitely an area in which personalization makes a difference. Provided you have a way of understanding the categories and brands of greatest interest to each shopper, you can tailor messages to them as individuals.

For some, promotional units focused on seasonal couture will be incredibly motivating. For others, it may be access to limited edition kicks from Nike, New Balance, or Adidas. It depends entirely on their past purchases among other actions.

5. Free shipping offers

To many brands, “free shipping” is unviable due to the associated cost, but hear us out.

The challenge with free shipping is to ensure that the offer is part of a conditional promotions program. By using a high cart value in order to earn free shipping, you can drive sales without breaking the bank.

At RevLifter, we have pioneered a variety of messaging types – from stretch-and-save messages, to units that feature progress bars so the user knows how much more they need to spend in order to earn the free shipping offer. You increase your revenue; they gain what they perceive as a reasonable incentive to purchase. All without cutting the price.

6. Free returns messaging

It might seem like part of your service to a customer, but offering free returns to customers and delivering an advertisement for the service can drive significantly higher conversion rates.

Most brands provide free returns beyond a certain price point anyway, so making more of the message simply promotes this standard offering to people who will view it as a highly convincing offer.

It may also make sense to test some alternate descriptions of this merchandising tactic, like “money back guarantee”, just to see what works.

7. Cross-selling

A number of our luxury retailers have taken to offering bundle discounts when they encourage customers to buy items from a particular category. When doing so, the focus should be on creating ties between products, as relevance is always key.

Bundles are an eCommerce promotion idea that always offer an effective discount on an item without harming its brand equity, or violating retailer agreements.

8. Scarcity messaging

Now a popular approach with Amazon and many other retailers, communicating limited availability can help make people “buy now” instead of waiting or failing to convert.

At RevLifter, we’ve helped many retailers achieve success with this strategy, often by delivering information directly from an inventory system – e.g. “Hurry! Just 5 left!” Used properly, this is a great conversion rate builder.

9. Offer discounts on multiple upsell purchases

Again, this is a strategy that stimulates a special purchase for which your company may find a discount acceptable.

Some retailers use this approach to ensure they capture a greater share of customer requirements, in exchange for a manageable discount.

10. New customer offers

Many eCommerce brands discount a first purchase to new customers if it meets an acceptable profitability target.

With personalized deals that can distinguish between new and returning customers, brands can field discounts judiciously while ensuring that existing customers never see these offers. Personalized deals platforms like RevLifter keep new customer offers out of sight of other shoppers to protect the brand.

11. Buyer reactivation offers

Similar to a new customer offer, some retailers selectively leverage discounts to communicate to past buyers that “we want you back.” This approach is increasingly popular among B2C retailers, many of whom were able to garner a one-time purchase during COVID but now need a way to drive a second sale.

If someone hasn’t made a purchase in six months, for example, calling them an existing customer really overstates their relationship. Buyer reactivation strategies turn one-time buyers into repeat customers, and deliver a high perceived value when it comes to the customer experience.

With a deals and incentives solution provider like RevLifter, you can pinpoint the right buyers and show a discount only to them. The perception of an “exclusive discount” helps drive incremental revenue and profit for your brand while also giving the prospect a sense of VIP status.


These are just some of the most popular eCommerce promotion idea areas that we and our clients use to promote purchases without “blanket” offers.

Some can be effective without the layer of 1-2-1 personalization in which we specialize. Additionally, a range of brands leverage more social media and influencer-based programs simply because these channels can sometimes deliver more involved, less price-sensitive customers.

In essence, most non-discounting promotional tactics and strategies work better when we can deliver a bespoke offer to each user. By avoiding those costly one-size-fits-all promotion code and coupon offers, and instead delivering strategic offers on a 1-2-1 basis, you can meet your targets without the problems that sometimes come from discount promotions.

Learn more about RevLifter

To learn more about RevLifter, our hyper-personalized incentives platform, and the specific solutions that enable discount-less incentives on personalized landing pages and polite, on-site messaging, request a demo today.

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