Flash-Sale Sites: Get It While It’s Hot

Flash-sale sites – the online businesses which specialize in selling brands' excess inventory at deep discounts for a limited time – are the next trend in social media. The popularity of these sites that feature products for typically only 36 – 48 hours is growing quickly. Consumers are learning that they rarely need to pay full price for brand name items and are not likely to turn back. Unlike regular e-commerce sites, flash-sale sites engage customers by guaranteeing a totally new shopping experience each time you visit the site.

Exclusive Experience
The flash-sale experience feels exclusive from the moment you register to become a member, regardless of the fact that it is free. Gilt Groupe Chairman Susan Lyne describes her company’s goal as recreating the excitement of a sample sale online. And a clock ticking down the minutes until the sale ends; sure makes it feel like you must act fast or miss an exclusive buying opportunity. Bargain hunters with a taste for luxury have increased traffic to flash-sales over 100% in July 2011 compared to one year earlier, as reported by Experian Hitwise.

The flash-sale market is extremely fragmented and competition is tough from both online and offline. Zulily, featuring top-quality fashion for moms and kids, has only 16% of the market, followed by Ideeli with 9% and Living Social Escapes with 8%. Gilt.com, a higher-end site originally at the forefront of flash-sale sites and modeled after France’s Vente-privee.com, ranked as only the 7th most popular flash-sale website. Many analysts say that most flash-sale sites remain unprofitable.

Act Now
Although some e-commerce experts believe this is another bubble waiting to explode, everyone recommends jumping into flash-sales now while they are hot. Marketers, that means being creative about including the flash-sales idea in your social media strategy. Small businesses can use the urgency of a limited-time offer to push products and services on their own website. By the same token, multinational brands can put exclusive temporary promotions on their Facebook pages.

My Favorites
Personally, I enjoy logging on to flash-sale sites a few evening a week to see if I can catch a deal. Some of my favorites are One Kings Lane, The Foundary and Joss & Main for their selection and ease of browsing sale items. It’s entertaining and I can save up to 70% on brand name home goods, accessories and travel. I have even gotten into the habit of checking the sites before heading out to stores or looking elsewhere online for gifts and other items I need.

Please share below some of your thoughts on the topic of this post.


  1. Sharon -- You just introduced me to a new world I didn't know about -- flash-sale sites. I'm personally addicted to SmartBargains, and the Chico and Coldwater Creek outlet/clearance sites online. I will definitely check out your favorites. Thanks for the tips! Jeannette

  2. I've been using flash-sale sites for years, but I never knew that's what they were called! My favorites are Woot.com (they have several sub-sites for different types of products) and Thwipster.com (mostly geeky collectibles). Amazon bought Woot not too long ago, so now they'll have even better inventory from time to time. I've saved so much money shopping there, but it's not a surprise that most flash-sale sites aren't profitable. That's the problem with deep discount stores, I suppose...

    Great post! I can't wait to read more of your stuff. :)

  3. Thanks Ladies for your comments. There are so many deals to be had. I will need to check the sites you mentioned.

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