Flash Sales: Fashion's Answer to Snapchat
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) The site Retailfetish.com appears to have been abandoned, remaining silent to all requests to speak through either social media or e-mail. It offered a service that promised to condense a handful of flash sale e-mails into one so its users wouldn't have to wade through a multitude of spam ad nauseam to find the deals they really wanted.
"Flash deals sites can be a very effective of locating deals," says David McGoldrick, a U.S. analyst with market intelligence firm Euromonitor International, "but require consumers to constantly check various sites to see what is available."
Perhaps the inactivity of Retailfetish.com is simply the signal of a bigger trend: a relatively new flash sale market already out sick.
If you want to understand what a flash sale is, think of Groupon or Living Social-type deals for clothing and accessories, flashes in the pan for the world of retail lasting between an hour and a few days. The idea is that these rock-bottom limited time deals could help consumers acquire the goods they're looking for at a killer price.
However, these sorts of bargains are not likely to work in a consumer's best interest, says McGoldrick.
"Flash deals sites promote impulse purchases because of their fleeting nature," he says. "Consumers often purchase things that they would not have otherwise seen or purchased."
Those seeking to benefit from flash sales and other limited clothing bargains should first make a list of the apparel they're looking to purchase soon. With that list in mind, consumers can be sure they'll gravitate toward discounts for things they actually need.
Apparel Sales Trends
The flash sale market had a rough 2013 as the Wall Street Journal recently reported:
"In a sign that consumers are growing wary of the industry, one study found shoppers' complaints to be widespread: Forty-four percent of comments on flash-sale Facebook pages were negative earlier this year, according to findings released in May by Dotcom Distribution, which provides fulfillment services, including serving as a warehouse, for companies that sell products via e-commerce. Just 29% were positive. Meanwhile, a look at the unique desktop visitors of 10 popular flash sale sites (data supplied by comScore, an analytics firm that tracks consumer behavior) reveals that they declined for all but three of them in October compared with a year prior."
Virtually all flash sale sites have suffered. Rue La La and Gilt Groupe have had to restructure and lay off employees. Fab laid off the most, seeing out somewhere over 300 employees, reports the Verge's Ben Popper, who also says the leadership failings of CEO Jason Goldberg had much to do with its downturn:
"When Goldberg was making the decision to let go of staffers in Europe, his executive team begged him to review the American side of the business and make all the cuts at once, say sources, but he declined. The result was that staffers who moved from America to Europe were asked to move back home. They were assured at the time that their jobs would be safe. They arrived in New York, only to be laid off themselves a few months later. 'It was absolutely crushing to morale,' says a developer still with the company."