Hello-Hello and welcome to a Wednesday!
We start today with a look at a new phenomenon in online shopping, courtesy of several upscale retailers: the limited-time sale. It generally starts with an email like this:
The image above is from a Neimans email we received Monday; it is for the ‘midday dash’ at Neiman Marcus, a two-hour online-only sale. At the appointed time this is what a savvy shopper will see at the Needless Markup Neiman Marcus site; the merchandise changes with each sale.
“Customers learn about the sale mere hours before it begins. This week’s “dash” featured a $697 Burberry handbag, marked down from $1,395. A Carmen Marc Valvo chiffon gown was $575, down from $1,150. And Cole Haan flats were $82, down from $165.”
By no means is Neimans the only luxury retailer trying new ways to prompt consumers to open (re-open?) those pocketbooks. The following screen grab shows what one sees today after the most recent Saks ‘Fashion Fix’ sale ended.
The Fashion Fix email explained “Today, the rush begins. Get Yours. Online Only.” and promoted 50% savings on top brands at Saks like Herve Leger, Alice and Olivia, Chloè, and more.
However, not all ‘secret sales’ are online only, as the Times story details:
“… the benefits of secret sales — whispered discounts and discreet price negotiations between customers and sales staff in the aisles of upscale chains. A time-worn strategy typically reserved for a store’s best customers, it has become more democratized as the recession drags on and retailers struggle to turn browsers into buyers.”
Nor do the higher-end stores want to tell everyone in the world about their discounted goods.
“The conventional wisdom is that the more consumers who know about a sale, the better for business. But that rule does not necessarily hold in luxury retailing.”
“The realm of online “private sales” so far has been dominated by a small number of retail startups that specialize in the brief sales of discount designer apparel. Their Web sites, including Gilt.com, RueLaLa.com and HauteLook.com, have built a following with virally marketed, daily “members only” sales.”
Below, a recent Rue La La screen shows listings for that day’s ’boutiques’.
AOL’s Daily Finance has more on how the designers’ perceive these sales:
“The sites are popular with designers, who’d rather have their goods sold there than hung in clearance racks at department stores. Designers know their brands are their currency and they are very wary about cheapening them; it’s a constant point of friction between designers and department stores. That’s why you’ll never find Hermès sold off-price.”
Back to Stephanie Rosenbloom’s story in the Times, with more on the psychology behind selling this way:
“Such discreet sales preserve a brand’s veneer of exclusivity and help create a sense of urgency by limiting the time customers have to score a deal. Additionally, secret sales enable stores to discount their merchandise deeply without angering regular customers who may have bought at full price.”
In many respects this doesn’t seem all that different from what many retailers have been doing online for some time, providing early notice to its better customers of special discounts, sale and promotional events. One issue that may be a concern is overexposure; below, another email received here at the Prepatorium from Neimans, this one touting the Last Call sale currently underway.
Some customers may start to feel inundated with ‘special sale’ notifications and promotions. It’s no secret that we find J. Crew a repeat offender in this category, with the volume of email creating a perception that everything is always ‘on sale’, and if not currently ‘on sale’, it will be ‘on sale’ again very soon.
On the other hand, here at the Princess we have been told we should email customers on our mailing lists more frequently. We only send our newsletters to those requesting them, generally every four to five weeks. We take your email address and privacy very seriously, and while desirous of offering special savings and sharing new merchandise with you, we want those occasions to remain ‘special’. (If not a subscriber and interested in receiving either our Preppy Planet or Lilly Pulitzer newsletters, just click here for our home page, and look at the lower right-hand side of the page to sign up.)
BTW, if anyone needs invites to the ‘members only’ sites like those listed above, just email us (thepreppyplanet@gmail dot com) and we’ll get one on its way to you.
Also on the hit parade today, a follow-up to yesterday’s post showing a rather scantily clad Blake Lively attending the premiere of her new film. It is not unusual for Ms. Lively to be out and about in such apparel (or lack thereof), while Gossip Girl co-star Leighton Meester is generally deemed to be more conservatively clad. Ummm… perhaps not so much any more.
Ms. Meester is seen at last night’s American Eagle store opening party, where she performed several songs from her new album.
Whiles these images may look fairly provocative, the actress’s photos in the December issue of GQ are far racier. The one we show below is the only image not carrying the dreaded NSFW caution.
We really were amazed at the other pictures.
“Trachtenberg will apply her tough-girl meets sugary-sweet vibe to her first jewelry collection in collaboration with Coach under the accessories giant’s youthful and spirited Poppy line.”
The new line will launch next Spring.
We close with a special Pretty in Pink, French department store Printemps is all aglow for the holidays.
We loved shopping at this retailer when they entered the US market many years back (ultimately an unsuccessful endeavor), but we have not visited any located on the far side of the pond for years.
On that, may everyone enjoy an evening that is light, bright and filled with fun!