Making a huge sale is great. But joy turns to regret if your customer gets stuck with merchandise and never orders again. "We don't believe in onetime deals," says Emery Klein, CEO of Alaron Inc., a $33-million electronics importer and custom product designer. So the Troy, Mich., company encourages customers to order less so their cash isn't locked up in inventory.

"We advise them to buy conservatively, and if the promotion goes well, we tell them, 'We'll be here for you," says Klein. When stores run low on an item, they can depend on Alaron to meet their needs, with delivery in about 10 days. "I'm a hero if customers have sold out rather than overbought. In the long run we end up selling more."