What does the future of online sales events look like?

Traditional sales events used to be the pinnacle of a shopper and retailer’s calendars alike, but globalisation and e-commerce growth has resulted in an oversaturation of the market. So, what’s the impact of this growth? Is it a case of sales events overload? Is the saturation diluting the benefit of these events? Or, on the contrary, are these events driving sales and shaping consumer preferences.

New research by Power Retail, the number one resource for Australian Online Retail Industry insights, content and news, has synthesised findings from over 9,400 Australian shoppers and 90 retailers in their latest Spotlight Report, “Sales Events – Growing and Evolving”.

Managing Director of Power Retail, Grant Arnott says, “Online sales events are on the incline, with research stating that retail sales in November overtook sales in December 2016, as a result of events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Across the whole of the Australian retail industry, there is general agreement that online only sales events are also directly impacting in-store retailers.”

The Power Retail Advisory Panel notes that retailers and shopping centres are attempting, and will continue, to converge online-only retail events with in-store activations, playing on the excitement and FOMO that these online sales create, and thus minimise lost sales opportunities. For example, Australia’s largest shopping centre, Chadstone, embraced this concept and encouraged its retailers to participate in Black Friday in 2018, which resulted in a 20% increase in foot traffic, with retailers reporting strong sales increase.

Grant continues, “Looking to the future, it’s important for Australian online retailers to increasingly look to international markets, and particularly consider the rapid growth in the size and number of sales events in Asian markets such as Singles Day. Only 21% of Australian online retailers hold a Single’s Day sale with only 3% nominating it as a ‘major sale’, yet it’s the world’s largest one-day sales event. Retailers will be left behind if they don’t consider it a viable growth option.

Another innovation that will impact the future is highly experiential in-store activations for sales events, which is largely driven by millennials who are well known for their penchant for multisensory stimulation. These events will be driven by both increasing consumer demand and retailers supporting non-discount-based events. For example, we’ll continue to see the rise of beauty and lifestyle festivals, similar to Meccaland or Sephoria, and ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunities to create a similar sense of urgency.”

Key findings from the Sales Event report:


  • Participation in sales events is the norm, with 82% of online shoppers participating in at least one sales event in the last 12-months.
  • There are differences in sales event participation when it comes to age. The vast majority (91%) of under 25-year old online shoppers participate in sales events. This declines to only 59% for those aged over 65.
  • Younger families (who have at least one child under the age of 10) also have very high participation rates in sales events.
  • Online shoppers have a clear preference for online-only sales events (48%).
  • Those who plan their purchases further out from the event tend to have larger basket sizes and a higher overall spend as well as a higher number of visits to the event (meaning that they buy multiple moderately priced purchases over many visits).
  • Online-only sales events encourage ‘opportunistic’ buying behaviour. The average opportunistic sale at an online only sales event is 13% higher than at a multichannel sales event.
  • Across all sales events, the most popular time for online shoppers is between 6:00PM and 9:00PM.


Commenting on these findings, Grant says, “Unsurprisingly, our research shows that consumers crave ‘big discounts’ and convenience. While this isn’t revolutionary, it should cement the idea that retailers can’t adopt a scatter gun approach in participation, but instead focus on targeting their particular market in these sales. This is how they can take advantage of the repeat purchase behaviour and high levels of planning which our research shows is common in sales events purchase behaviour.”

Grant concludes, “It’s also important to note that online retailers are investing more in advertising and marketing activity in the lead up to sales, rather than focusing on offering significant discounts for their shoppers. This is where they fall short and compromise sales.”

/Public Release. View in full here.