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