5 New Ways to Generate Sales During an Economic Downturn

Times they are a-changing. Ecommerce stores are closing left and right due to things like plummeting sales, supply shortages, extended fulfillment times and serious cash flow issues. We hate to see anyone suffer like that, so if you’re looking for new ways to generate sales, drive traffic and increase cash flow, this article was written just for you, friend.

Ecommerce Friends

1. Set Up Subscriptions for Recurring Revenue

There are two ways to make people really WANT to buy from you – solve their problems and make their lives easier. Well, what could be easier than automatically getting a product you want every month without even having to lift a finger? It’s what makes Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program so successful.

Subscriptions work even if you don’t sell consumable products. Look at Stitch Fix, Book of the Month, KiwiCo or any other subscription service. Busy people love automatically getting the products they want every month.

To get people interested in your subscription service, offer a discount like Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program does. Or create a referral offer so people will share with their friends.

2. Drive Demand with Sold Out Products

With Amazon cutting off inbound shipments and issues with shipping from China, lots of sellers are having trouble keeping their products in stock. You can look at this as a nightmare that has caused your sales to plummet. Or you can look at it as an opportunity to drive demand and generate sales.

When a product is perceived as being limited in availability, it becomes more attractive. This phenomenon is called scarcity. It’s what makes people feel like they have to act NOW to get the goods. It’s why so many ecommerce stores (including Amazon) show how many items are left in stock for products with low inventory. Get it before it’s gone!

Use scarcity to your advantage with out of stock products by creating a limited time offer for people who pre-order items before they’re back in stock. Throw a countdown timer on the offer to really pump up that feeling of scarcity.

3. Create a Fundraising Campaign to Generate Sales

This works really well if you have true fans of your brand. Tell them about your struggles. Make it personal, but don’t come off as desperate. Communicate in a straightforward, human way and don’t be afraid to show your vulnerabilities.

Some stores have done this by asking their followers to purchase gift cards to help keep them afloat. Other stores have talked about how they need funds to prevent layoffs in order to encourage their followers to place pre-orders.

Fundraising for More Sales

Here are a couple of examples:

+ “Hi everyone! Here we are waiting for things to turn around. We wish everyone safety and wellness. You can always support us by purchasing gift cards for the future when we can celebrate the end of this pandemic together.”

+ “We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and cannot express how much it means to us to be able to continue serving our community. Your gift card orders allow us to continue to support our staff of three, and although we’ve had to transition to a skeleton crew, we hope to be able to keep this new service model going until things are back to normal – whatever/whenever that may be. If you’d like to invest in the future of our store, please consider purchasing a gift card.”

Another idea is to use the Kickstarter method – put together a couple of packages for people who help “fund” your store. Or create a membership program where people can pay to get exclusive deals, early access to products and other surprises. You can even create a membership page that displays member names (like buying a brick at a stadium). People love feeling like they’re famous.

4. Make Your Products Essential

Let’s say you sell puzzles. Obviously puzzles are not essential products. But positioning is everything in the marketing world. If you position your puzzles as an essential part of maintaining positive mental health during quarantine, people are more likely to buy.

If positioning won’t work for your products, see if you can add new essential products to your lineup. For example, one of our Amazon Import & Sync users sells swizzle sticks. Yep, those little plastic stirring sticks for fancy cocktails. Obviously swizzle sticks are not essential, and demand has gone way down since so many restaurants have closed. So they talked with their manufacturer and discovered that they could cut production on their plastic swizzle sticks and start production on plastic face shields for healthcare providers. Booyah, essential products.

5. Cut Costs

Okay, this might not be a good way to generate sales. But if you can reduce costs, you won’t need as many sales to stay afloat. This is the perfect time to take a critical eye to your accounts and see where you can tighten up your bottom line. Are you still paying for software you no longer use? Are you getting the best deal on fulfillment? FBM or a 3PL company might be less expensive than FBA.

Another option: cut down on physical products and start offering more digital products. We wrote a whole article on how to make money with digital products during Coronavirus.

You can also apply to The App Fund for Shopify Stores. We’ve partnered with some of the best Shopify Partners and App Developers to create this fund for stores affected by Coronavirus. There’s nearly $400k worth of discounts and freebies up for grabs!

Shopify App Fund


As an entrepreneur, you’re used to adapting and quickly finding new ways to make things work. This is no different. Don’t get bogged down in negative thinking. Look at this time as a challenge to come up with new ideas to generate sales and make your business better than ever.

About the Author

Gennifer is the Marketing Manager at ByteStand, where she lives and breathes customer service education while sipping coffee in her pajamas.

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