Promotions: Which to Pick for the Holidays

November 21, 2016 by Ethan Harmon

Business Environment eCommerce Technology Design and User Experience Online Marketing
holiday season
shopping cart rules
catalog price rules


It’s been said several times before - a lot of those times came from me, most likely - but the time has come to get ready for the holidays. Is your store ready for the massive spike in traffic? I would hope your answer is a resounding “yes!” and not a shoulder shrug. But, I’m not here to talk about your servers and whatnot. I’m here to talk about the types of promotions you will be running on your e-store.

“But Mr. Application Specialist, running promos is easy! We already know what to toss up on the site. Piece-o’-cake!” Yeah, yeah, yeah. I hear you. Setting up promotions and coupons is not as taxing as building a new landing page. However, knowing which rules to set up on your Magento store is essential. This not only helps your sales, but gives customers a better understanding of what they will be receiving. So, let’s dive in, shall we?

Catalog Price Rules:

This one is very self-explanatory, but I’ll explain it anyway. A catalog price rule, as the name implies, is a promotion that applies to the live catalog. So, if you want to give customers 30% off your “Clothing” category, this would be the rule to use. When active, this rule will display the original price of an item with a slash through it, and post the sale price in red. There is no way to remove the original price without some custom code, so keep this in mind before applying the rule.

A catalog price rule can be very useful, especially during the holiday rush. This rule is an easy way to apply discounts across the board, and immediately inform your customers that a sale is happening. It’s a great way to draw attention to your promotion. Just note that you can only provide discounts on items, so no free shipping, coupon codes, etc.

Shopping Cart Price Rules:

These rules are specific to the shopping cart page. Instead of applying a discount to a page or category, these rules activate after certain conditions are met when a customer lands on the cart page. Unlike the catalog price rules, these require a lot more specificity in order to function correctly.

Shopping cart price rules are generally the preferred method when running a promotion. Why? Because you can set up the conditions for the sale. You can create a 15% off or $5 off discount that only applies if the customer has X total in the cart. Or you can establish a free shipping method, but only if a customer has X and Y products in the cart. This is also the rule that allows you to generate coupon codes for customers.

Wrapping Up…

Okay, so now that we have established what the rules are and how they are used, do you now understand when to use them? I’ll make it simple: Use catalog rules when applying bulk discounts on the live catalog, and use shopping cart rules if you need to establish conditions for a discount to work. Knowing when to use these rules will help increase your sales, if done properly. Don’t overthink it, too much. Plan your promotions and figure out which rule works best for the sale. Make it simple for the customer, and you will reap the benefits.

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