Deciding Not to Discount: 4 Ways to Make It Work

a store with shelves of organized shoes and purses denoting deciding not to discount

Growing up, I loved the thrill of digging through the racks at the mall in search of a deal. My Nana taught me how to hunt for bargains. She always had her coupons (pronounced “cue-pon”) and would religiously read the Sunday circular, scissors at the ready.

The days of hunting for a bargain appear all but dead. As shoppers, we’ve come to expect that there will always be a promotion or deal. For some businesses discounting can be an amazing tool. Who doesn’t love to see a spike in sales? But it also can lead to addictive behavior on the sellers’ part and form expectations on the buyers’.

If you’re torn between discounting and not, I’ll show you a few tactics you can use to forgo discounts and still see sales.

The Decision to Discount

Retailers need to take a good look at their businesses and decide: do I commit to a discount driven business or take the less common, discount free path? The choice they make will ultimately affect the behavior and expectations of their customers over time.

Just look at JCPenney. In 2012 they decided to stop offering discounts and promotions, opting to instead offer a lower price point for all merchandise they sold. JCPenney pitched it as an end to fake prices. It totally backfired on them— sales tanked, their CEO was fired, and they reintroduced inflated prices and discounts again in 2013. All because customers had come to expect that they would always get a discount at JCPenney. When that went away (despite lower prices), so did they.

If you haven’t yet gone down the road of discounting, you still have the opportunity to decide which path your business should take.

Opting to Not Discount

Deciding to sell discount-free can feel empowering and probably a bit intimidating. You may wonder how will you be able to encourage shoppers to buy without an added incentive.

Newsletters: Offer an opt-in or “subscribe to newsletter” call to action on your website, blog, and any transactional emails. From there you can produce a newsletter to keep folks up to date on your business and other interesting tidbits– like industry news, trends and stories from other customers.

Remove Any Field for Coupon Codes: Even if you don’t offer discounts, having a field appear on a checkout page can lead shoppers to think there might be one out in the wilds of the web. It could actually hinder them from purchasing.

Build Your Brand: We’re living in an attention economy. If a visitor bounces from your site, stay top of mind by using retargeting and having a robust social presence. By understanding where your customers hang out online, you can focus on building out the right presence on different channels.

GoPro, LuluLemon and Under Armour are great examples of companies building awesome brands. Check out more creative brands from this post by DIYGenius.

If you’re looking to find new shoppers, Facebook’s Lookalike Audience feature is a great place to start reaching similar profiles.

Follow Your Favorite Brands Who Don’t Discount: There are a lot of other business out there who don’t discount and they find new ways to get customers excited without a discount.

Take etailer Chubbies, for example. They don’t offer discounts (except for those in the military), and they don’t normally run promotions or sales, except for twice a year on Julyber Monday (2 mondays before 4th of July) and Thighber Monday (aka Cyber Monday), when they give out free gifts with purchase.


Creative ideas like this can keep subscribers excited and help your business stand out.

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