Flash Sales – Marketing

February 1, 2011 at 5:09 am 3 comments

To conclude our series of posts on Flash Sales, here’s a post on how these sites market themselves:

Flash sales are a brilliant example of viral marketing. Access to such sites is ‘by invitation-only’ which lends an air of exclusivity (although anyone can get an account if an invite is requested).  It gets referrals through users’ personal networks and offers incentives (e.g. $25 credit, Rs.1000 credit, free designer bags, etc.) to current members to invite their friends to join the community.

One of the most critical things in such a sales model is that the shopping interface be user-friendly and convey premium-ness. So most websites have used rich, deep colours to give it that exclusive feel, and ensured that the website is very easy to navigate. These websites, preferably called “premium shopping clubs” are targeting 20-35 year olds who spend a lot of time on the internet. These websites have a strong presence on social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter, which act as daily reminders, discussion forums for the on-going sales as well as forums to generate interest through contests, etc.

In response to the concerns of members about the site getting too crowded, the ‘Gilt Group’ even created ‘Gilt Noir’, an exclusive loyalty program, which gives big spenders and VIPs advance access to sales, and brings private promotions from designers who refuse to sell on regular Gilt.

For differentiation, some of the websites have deviated from the original model, for instance, those visiting the ‘DesiCouture’ website do not need an “exclusive membership” to view the merchandise on sale. ‘DesiCouture’ also offers the option of special ordering – either by size or if the product is sold out. In addition, it also has the option to sort the products by product type, price, designers, etc. While most other websites sell previous season Indian designer wear, ‘DesiCouture’ works towards promoting upcoming designers by commissioning garments to be made at a price point as low as Rs.1500 alongside established designer prêt lines.

Marketing expenses are at a minimum; sales are announced by email a day to a week in advance and an email reminder is sent at the time of the start of the sale. All sales start at the same time, so as to condition members to log onto their website at the same time every day – almost making it a routine for customers – simply a brilliant way to achieving repeat visits by customers. According to New York Magazine “During the hour after its weekday sales kick off, between noon and 1 pm…its site (Gilt.com) is visited by an average of roughly 100,000 shoppers.

Most such sites have tied up with certain designers, celebrities, stores, fashion magazines and blogs, TV shows and events. These tie-ups vary from a features spread in a fashion magazine saying “available on 99labels.com”, to a small spread on upcoming sales on popular fashion blogs like highheelconfidential.com or purseblog.com. Sites also have tie-ups with TV shows like ‘LaunchMyLine’ – a show that encourages new talent in fashion designing, and with Film Festivals and fashion events, for instance, ‘Fashion and You’ partnered with Lakme Fashion Week as their official online partners. This gains them sufficient mileage without having to spend much on marketing.

These websites also have their own blogs which talk about the latest fashion trends, upcoming designers, as well as top picks for the month from their merchandising head and leading fashionistas. The blogs also link back to relevant sales that may be going on at the time. This is also a great way to keep readers returning back to the website. Here are some links…



Roshni Jhaveri

Entry filed under: E-commerce, Luxury Goods, Marketing. Tags: , , , , .

Flash Sales – Procurement Des Mera – travels through small towns

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. R J  |  February 1, 2011 at 11:56 am

    I end up refering to blogs and discussion boards to get a sense of what is new out there in the market – new trends, the buzz surrounding them etc. I still have not gotten around to purchasing anything online through these flash sale websites even though fashion blogs do end up talking about them. What would entice someone like me to go ahead and purchase something online in India?

    I have purchased items online in the US because a) there seemed to be a larger variety offered, b) shipping and return policies seemed much better than what is offered in India. c) I have a strong opinion that all luxury items in India are sold at much higher premiums. d) I feel that things which do seem well-priced have some flaw or are counterfeit.

    What type of messages should these sites send out to eleviate such mental blocks which I believe a lot of potential customers have in India?


    • 2. escapevelocityblog  |  February 7, 2011 at 7:14 am

      Hello R J

      I agree, I also started following blogs to keep myself up-to-date with market and consumer trends.

      There are a lot of things that these websites are doing right to entice consumers to shop online in India, such as:
      a) Compared to earlier when such brands and avenues weren’t available, having the option to buy these brands (in whatever limited variety) now, is a huge plus in itself. If we see the shift that has happened from the number of brands that these websites offered when they were launched to now (about a year later) there is a much larger variety of brands and products being offered. So these websites are striving to provide larger variety and meet different needs.
      b) They are building credibility by being associated with leading designers, participating in events such as Lakme Fashion Week, being featured in fashion magazines and leading blogs, etc.

      That said, there is scope for improvement:
      a) Better shipping and return policies – option of next day/ 2-day delivery which is not being offered currently.
      b) Better return policies – free return shipping in case of size issues/ damages. This will encourage people to make a purchase, since they know that they do have the option to return incase they are not happy with their purchases.
      NOTE: But, given their business model as well as their procurement challenges, it may be difficult to provide faster shipping and flexible return policies.
      c) Also, each of these Indian websites is currently offering a whole gamut of products and services; owning a certain category may give an edge over the others.
      d) Providing price comparisons across websites (both Indian and foreign) may be a way to boost confidence of consumers about competitive pricing of products.

      To outline a marketing strategy in further detail, it is important to do in-depth consumer research.



  • 3. sales marketing  |  September 27, 2013 at 6:56 am

    Well,I am hearing first time about this marketing and I am too glad to know about it,by the help of your post.So,I am very thankful to you for sharing this post with us.And it is very useful blog to know about new marketing fundas and trends!!!




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Recent Posts


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 5 other followers

%d bloggers like this: