Promotions

Overview

You can set your own promotions in Hotcakes. These promotions are for discounts based on specific criteria. Promotions are created to draw traffic and ultimately more sales and revenue to your store. It improves revenue by adding a discount for certain customers or providing some kind of deal that the customer can use to add extra product with a certain purchase.  This helps to not only entice customers to come or return to your store, but it also helps them spread the word about your store to their network of friends and family.

This article will help you to understand how the built-in promotions engine works by walking you through the individual views you might see.  Additional articles will describe each individual promotion type, including how it's created and applied on your site.

Requirements

The following prerequisites will be necessary to accomplish the goals of this article:

  • Have access to your Hotcakes store administration
  • Have a basic understanding of how a promotion can work

Getting Started

There are no prerequisites to follow along with this article.

Promotions

You set promotions from the Marketing menu.

When you arrive at the promotions page for the first time, you won't see any promotions added yet.  You'll need to create some.  When you do, they'll appear in one or many listings in the right panel.

Administrative Features

The left panel contains a few administrative features.  First, you can search for specific promotions. This is especially useful will you have a lot of promotions running.  The search will look through both the customer description, as well as the system name you give to your promotions.

Next, you have a checkbox available to display promotions that have been disabled.  This is unchecked by default, only showing you the promotions are are currently active.

Finally, you have a drop down list and a button that together allow you to create new promotions.  All you need to do is choose the type or promotion you're interested in running on your site, then click the "New Promotion" button to get started.

Promotion Types

As you'll see from the drop down list used when creating a new promotion, you have plenty of promotions available to you.  You can use one or many of any of the promotions you see, allowing you to implement your promotional strategy exactly as you desire.

There really are only 6 types of promotions, and they're the first 6 you see listed.  All of the other choices you see are simply a shortcut that pre-fills the next step a bit to save you a few clicks.  Each type of promotion will have things that are unique to it, which will be discussed below.

Sales allows customers to instantly receive a discount, without really having to do anything else. Offers on the other hand generally require that the customer do something to earn the discount, such as use a coupon code or spend a certain amount.

Promotion Type Description
Sale Sales allow you to almost automatically and globally change the pricing of products on your site, with little to no additional requirement.
Offer for Items These promotions run against a listing of items in the customer's shopping cart.  You would use this promotion to adjust something about a specific item in the order.
Offer for Free Items When using this promotion, you can reward a customer by adding one or more free products to their shopping cart.  An example of this might be giving your customers free samples that are related to another product.
Offer for Subtotal You would use this promotion to adjust the order total based on any number of conditions.  An example of this might be to discount the total order after spending a high amount, such as 10% if you spend $500 or more.
Offer for Shipping These promotions allow you to adjust the shipping for the order.  If you want to discount or offer free shipping, this is the promotion you should use.
Affiliate Promotion If you're running an affiliate program, you can reward existing affiliates by issuing them reward points for recruiting other affiliates.  Reward points can then be used towards purchases in your store, if you have this enabled.

Promotion Editor

The promotion editor will appear when you create or edit any promotion.  This view will look almost identical for each promotion type, except for the qualifications and actions being different for each.

Setting Description
Enabled When checked, this promotion will be active.  It's shown to you, and potentially being applied to your customer's orders (as long as they qualify).
Do Not Combine with Other Offers This setting will not impact sales.  Your sales will always run, regardless of any other offers or sales you might have running.  Customers can potentially qualify for multiple offers and sales.  This checkbox will force the promotions engine to skip this specific offer when it's checked, but only if the customer has already qualified for another offer.
Promotion Name This is the "system name" of the promotion that you'll see in the administrative area here, and your developers might be using this value as well.  Your customers will not see this value.  This makes it very useful for internal naming conventions.
Customer Description Your customers will see this value, so it should be the customer-friendly version of the promotion name above.
Start Date Promotions can run for a limited period of time. This value will default to the current date, but you can change it to be in the future.  Your promotion will begin running at 12:00 AM in the time zone for your store, on the date specified.
End Date Promotions can run for a limited period of time. This value will default to a year from the current date.  Your promotion will expire at 11:59:59 PM in the time zone for your store, on the date specified.
Qualifications This is a collection of one or more conditions that must be true inn order for your customer to receive the rewarded action (discussed below).  When you begin to specify multiple actions, you can get very specific at how your customers can save money, such as being required to spend a specific amount and enter a coupon code, instead of only one or the other.
Actions Actions are the reward the customer receives as a result of successfully qualifying with the conditions you set in the qualifications section.  While some promotion types allow you to add more than one action in a single promotion, it's much more common for a promotion to have a single action per promotion.

When you add or edit a qualification or action, a popup will appear with relevant editing options, like shown below.  Each popup will have slightly different options, depending on the qualification or action you're currently working with.  Specify your desired promotional updates and click the "Save Changes" button to apply these updates to the promotion.

As you save your qualifications and actions, you'll see them begin to populate in their respective section like shown below.  Each will show their description, followed by edit and delete icons.  You can have as many qualifications and actions as you'd like for any promotion, to help you achieve the customer behavior you're looking for.

Promotion Listing, Sorting, and Execution

As you begin to add promotions to your store, you'll see them populate the listing on the right panel of the promotions view.  You'll see them segmented into sections that match their respective promotion type.

Each section is listed in the order that it's potentially applied to your customers orders.  For example, sales will always run before Offers for Free Items, and that will always run before Offers for Subtotal, and so on.  At no point can a customer qualify for a subtotal promotion before first potentially qualifying for a free item promotion.  

To be clear...  When an order is placed and/or recalculated by the system, the promotions engine will iterate through each promotion in each promotion type, in the following order.

  1. Sales
  2. Offers for Free Items
  3. Offers for Order Items
  4. Offers for Order Subtotal
  5. Offers for Shipping

When the promotions engine iterates through any specific promotion type, it might find that there is more than one promotion to qualify.  In these instances, the promotions engine will iterate through each promotion in the order you see in that section.  However, you can adjust the sort order of those promotions at any time, by dragging and dropping them to be in the order you desire.  You'll see the related icon for this in the first column of the grid you see below.

Each promotion type listing will use the same grid formatting.  The columns are described in the table below.

Column Description
[no name] This first column is what enables you to be able to sort the promotions in any specific promotion type section.  Simply drag and drop the promotion using this icon.
Name This is the promotion name or "system name" that you gave the promotion. This is different from what the customer sees.
Status You will see one of 4 possible statuses here, depending on the date and whether or not it's enabled. The status that you might see includes Active, Upcoming, Expired, and Disabled.  Active and disabled should be self-explanatory, based upon the Enabled column below.  Expired will appear when the end date is in the past, and Upcoming will appear when the begin date is in the future.
Enabled This column will indicate if the promotion is enabled or not.  If checked, the promotion is enabled.  This is especially useful when showing disabled promotions alongside the active promotions.
[no name] This is an action column, allowing you to edit or delete the respective promotion.  The first icon will let you edit the promotion, taking you to the promotion editor view.  The second icon will allow you to permanently delete the promotion instead.

Creative Uses of Promotions

We've all been conditioned to think about our promotions as discounts only.  However, there's plenty of use cases where you might need to raise a price conditionally, and this promotions engine allows you to do that.  Imagine having a specific product that whenever purchased, you'd need to charge an additional fee.  This could be a 2% insurance fee, for example.  You could create a promotion that added a 2% surcharge for this kind of scenario.  Promotions are quite flexible, so feel free to get creative with them.

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