Tag Archives: preppy flash sales

Preppy Brands at Flash Sale Sites

Hello-Hello, today we continue with our look at flash sales, focusing on prep brands sold via this method.

Many of the companies offer sale events several times a year, almost on a quarterly basis, others may be sold even more frequently and some less often. Prices are generally very good, at least 25% off MSRP, with the majority of items marked down by 40% and more.  Special sale and promotional events (Sunday Night Styleathons at RueLaLa, Last Day Discount at another site) provide even deeper price cuts. Here are just a few names you know that can be found at the discount-driven sites: Lilly Pulitzer, Brooks Brothers, Vineyard Vines, Vera Bradley, Jack Rogers.

For example, Lilly Pulitzer will be back again this Thursday at Rue La La.

RueLaLa

Most recently Lilly was sold at RueLaLa in mid-May, that event featured the label’s stationery and gift items.

Even when there are multiple opportunities to purchase discount goods via flash sales, that does not translate into easy acquisition of merchandise you may covet. Why not? In part because there is a limited amount of inventory available, but also because there is an abundance of savvy shoppers very quick with the trigger finger, aka the ‘enter’ key. Lilly and other popular brands sell out very quickly. RueLaLa sales events generally start at 11am, it is not unusual to find a third or more of the inventory gone within seconds, there are that many people who are that fast.

As many know, RueLaLa is a dominant player in the flash sale market, that is where we have found Brooks Brothers on sale.

RueLaLa.com

Along with the retailer’s edgier, pricier Black Fleece line.

RueLaLa.com

Vineyard Vines also calls RueLaLa home for its flash sales.

RueLaLa.com

But as we mentioned Monday, many brands are now doing their own limited time sales, Vineyard Vines & Brooks Brothers among those having done this in the past. Below, two promotional images from previous flash sales the brands have conducted on their own websites.

Vineyard Vines/Brooks Brothers Black Fleece

We expect to see more of this in the future from a growing number of companies, as well as more brands ‘taking over’ a flash site, where they are the only thing offered. Below, an image from one such event at Gilt, Kate Spade was the brand showcased.

Gilt.com

Another brand many like, Vera Bradley, has been offered on a number of the sites. Back in 2009 (and possibly 2010) the line was found at RueLaLa, but most recently it has been on sale at Ideeli, the promotional image below is from this February.

Ideeli February 20, 2012

Handcrafted needlepoint accessories from Tucker Blair have been offered via Gilt, another industry leader.

Gilt.com

Smathers and Branson, the primary competitor to Tucker Blair, can be found at another site, more on that in a moment.

Another accessory brand sold at discounted prices, Jack Rogers.

RueLaLa.com

The photo above shows them at RueLaLa, Jacks have also sold at Gilt, the image shown below is from January, 2012.

Gilt.com January 23, 2012

You can also find brands many preps like offering house and home merchandise at the sites, like Macbeth Collection with its bright array of colorful containers and partyware. This piece is from an email campaign promoting a sale event at Haute Look, the site owned by Nordstrom.

HauteLook.com

Macbeth has also been sold at One King’s Lane, and is currently on sale at Beyond the Rack, through tomorrow (June 7).

BeyondtheRack.com

Jonathan Adler’s classic designs are occasionally offered, this image is from an April event at One King’s Lane.

One Kings Lane

Preppy Plates merchandise is also discounted with regularity.

RueLaLa.com

A sale at RueLaLa just wrapped up, but the line has also been sold via One Kings Lane, Joss and Main and perhaps other venues.

A few more preppish brands that can be found discounted, followed in parentheses by the specific sites where I *know* they have been sold, there may be many others I simply don’t know about:

  • Sperry (RueLaLa, MyHabit)
  • Sebago (Ideeli)
  • Nautica (Beyond the Rack, Ideeli,  and
  • Bill’s Khakis (RueLaLa)
  • Bonobos (Haute Look)
  • Lacoste (Ideeli, Beyond the Rack, The Top Secret)
  • Tommy Hilfiger (Gilt, Ideeli, Biva, Beyond The Rack, RueLaLa, etc.)
  • Patagonia (Gilt – men’s footwear)
  • Bungalow Scout (Zulily, One Kings Lane, Haute Look, name a site & the brand may well have been offered there)
In Monday’s post we mentioned Five Mile, carrying merchandise for men, especially those with an active, outdoor lifestyle.

FiveMile.com

The site has done sales featuring Smathers and Branson, Southern Proper, Columbia, Barbour, Filson, Southern Marsh, Castaway Clothing, Knot Belt Company and several others.

Another niche discounter that may hold appeal for readers, Uscoop, targeted primarily at a college demographic.

UScoop

Uscoop has done an outstanding job of engaging customers and potential customers through social media, it is a fun spot to visit. This is also the company that just launched Tuckernuck, many readers are already familiar with the new endeavor dealing in preppy style and related brands.  We will be writing about it in the future.

One more appealing online store has also recently launched, Country Club Prep. This venture is a members-only operation, but that is for membership rewards, etc., it is not a flash sale operation. (However, it is a site we enjoy, we will also be writing about CCP in the future.)

A few points to keep in mind:

1) Some brands offer different categories of merchandise via different outlets. Clothing can be found at one site, sunglasses at another, bedding and home goods at a third, perhaps accessories at a fourth.

2) Those tracking sales at multiple sites often set up a specific email account just to handle the email, I did that when deciding I wanted to research the topic for a series of posts; it allowed me to maintain sanity (kinda’ sorta’).

3) Other options for tracking online sales: Racked.com’s Morning Flash Sale Roundup is a good list, although shorter than some may like; for those who enjoy reading Sample Sales Site has an extensive list found here.

4) Following sites on Facebook and/or Twitter has its advantages, many offer additional information and photos on upcoming sales.

That’s it for now, we’ll be back in a few days with a look at the deals being offered… are they really bargains?

NOTE: If in need of an ‘invite’ (ahem) to any of the sites, those I trust are listed here (scroll to the bottom of the post), as well as Part One of our look at the flash sales phenomenon.

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Filed under preppy, Sales & Savings

About Those Flash Sale Sites

Today’s post is a bit of a departure from our normal fare. For months we have chatted with friends about those ubiquitous flash sale sites, a phenomenon almost unheard of until the last several years. Usually we talk about upcoming sales, new or different sites, and how good the bargains are; lately the conversation has focused more on that last theme. I finally decided to explore the topic, hoping it will provide a modicum of entertainment, perhaps you can even share input and insight from your own experiences.

Just a few years ago those in search of discounted merchandise visited factory outlets, or off-price retailers like TJ Maxx and Ross Dress for Less.  Upscale department stores also offered their unsold inventory at outlet shops like Saks Fifth Avenue’s Off Fifth and Neiman’s Last Call. (In fact, the “luxury off-price” business model proved so successful many of the high-end outlets now have merchandise made exclusively for sale at their discount stores and they continue to open even more off-price stores.)

But then These Troubling Times arrived. When the Great Recession hit, stores were faced with enormous amounts of unsold merchandise that was discounted, then discounted again, and perhaps several more times. In many cases it still didn’t sell. This was particularly true for luxury retailers, they had racks overflowing with merchandise no one wanted, or could afford to buy.

More in this story from Reuters:

“The original flash sales model for the U.S. exploded during a time when there was this huge abundance of excess inventory,” said Steven Dennis, founder of SageBerry Consulting and a former executive at retailer Neiman Marcus.

Gilt is credited with launching the first flash sale site in the US, but others soon followed. And they continue to follow, as explained in this story from The Business of Fashion.

“Gilt’s success also spurred hundreds of other competitors to enter the flash sales market, from start-ups like Ideeli and Rue La La to strategic players like Amazon’s MyHabit and Nordstrom’s Hautelook.”

For those unfamiliar with the flash sale sites we share a brief primer. They are referred to as “members only sites,” a term generally excoriated occasionally questioned in this space, as most anyone with an email address can “join”.  Once signed up, daily emails are sent with a list of that day’s offerings, as well as a preview of upcoming sales.

Below, the Haute Look landing page.

HauteLook.com

Most sites require that you sign in before showing whatever sales they are offering, although not every site requires a log-in immediately. Here is another home page example from Zulily, a site specializing in merchandise for “Moms, Babies and Kids”.

Zulily.com

Once past the sign-in page you see the specific sales in progress. A glance at Beyond The Rack’s sale events underway last Friday shows Burberry, Coach, and “limited edition pre-owned Chanel” among the offerings.

Beyond The Rack June 1, 2012

There are even “prep-centric” flash sale sites, like Five Mile.

FiveMile.com June 1, 2012

Brands offered by Five Mile are familiar to many a prep: Knot Belt Company, Southern Proper, Castaway, Salmon Cove, to name only a few.

FiveMile.com

Once you are signed in you can start doing your product perusal, always intriguing and generally a lot of fun. Should you want to purchase an item, things operate like any other e-commerce site. It is in order fulfillment that the process may be different: what you purchased may ship from any number of places. It could come directly from the original manufacturer, it may be shipped from the flash sale site’s warehouse, or from a third party. Sites are usually very good about posting estimated shipping dates, below we show examples gathered on Friday:

  • Editor’s Closet item description on a Chloe dress: “Ships same business day if ordered before 2pm EST”
  • Joss & Main French Laundry Pillow: “Expected Arrival Date: Between 07/18/2012 and 07/23/2012″
  • RueLaLa Vineyard Vines Men’s Polo: “Ships in 5-7 days”
  • Ideeli David Yurman Silver Ice Necklace: “Expected to ship between Jun 19 and Jun 25, 2012”

The broad range of delivery dates serves as a reminder shoppers need to pay attention to the fine print, especially if making a time-sensitive purchase like a gift, or something for a special occasion. One more caveat: popular brands, such as Lilly Pulitzer, sell out very (*very*) quickly. It is not unusual to see items marked as “sold out” less than a minute after an event has started.

The explosion in sites has been enormous, the marketplace is now crowded. Some of the larger companies like Gilt have expanded into new terrain with specialty shops like Gilt Taste.

Gilt Taste

There are offerings for almost any niche or interest or activity, from travel and tourism deals to artwork, daily deals and local bargains. An example of what one site is doing via CNN:

Home furnishings flash sale site One Kings Lane recently announced the addition of Vintage & Market Finds, where a selection of marked-down furniture, accessories and art are available for five days at a time as opposed to its usual 72-hour time frame and new items are added daily.

Another dilemma created by a crowded field? Consumers becoming overwhelmed by email offers landing in their electronic in-box around. A CNBC story from last week:

Email fatigue is one of the biggest challenges flash-sale sites face. Emails are the primary way of disseminating deals, but after a while web shoppers can tune out and unsubscribe. This was even more true as more flash-sale sites came on the scene and as active shoppers subscribed to more than one flash-sale site.

“It has gotten to be an incredibly crowded marketplace, and there is the risk that all these offers can overload consumers,” said Stephen Wyss, a partner in the retail and consumer practice at BDO.

With stores becoming far more savvy in what (and how much) merchandise they order, there has been a steep decline in the availability of all that bargain inventory, especially luxury brands. One outcome is the growth of themed sales, no longer grouping items just by brand or designer, but by theme. Merchandise may be grouped by season, like “Flirty Tops for Summer” or “Backyard BBQ Essentials”.

There are even manufactured sales, such as an event Gilt held the second week of May, a sale titled “Revenge: Emily’s Beach House,” playing off the popularity of the TV show.

Gilt. com 5/17/2012

Here is a portion of the sale description:

The Hamptons was Emily Thorne’s old neighborhood, until something happened that destroyed her family and their reputation. Years later, she has returned to right those wrongs.

While it’s a lot smaller than Grayson Estate next door, Emily’s beach house is no shack. It’s the epitome of laid-back yet luxurious East End style. This sale includes authentic props from the set of Revenge; the most well-known is the porch swing, originally built by Emily’s father. You’ll also find the pedestal table found on the patio, and a candlestick from the living room. We’ve complemented these props with accents, from artful dishware to sconce lights.

Another tactic, making deals to launch certain collections via one of the sites. As mentioned in Thursday’s post, the Trina Turk for Banana Republic collection was offered online at Gilt.com more than a full week before consumers can buy it at Banana Republic. (But the merchandise was not a bargains, pieces were sold at full price, the appeal being the chance to get items before anyone else.)

Gilt.com

Retailers have fought back by jumping into the arena, doing their own flash sales. Below, a screen grab of an email I received from Neiman Marcus.

Neiman Marcus

Another example, Brooks Brothers did a limited time sale this weekend offering up to 75% off its Black Fleece line, the following image is from a Brooks Brothers email promoting the sale.

Brooks Brothers

It isn’t just upscale retailers taking part.

Kohl’s

And some have moved their outlet stores online as well, J. Crew “opens” its online factory store during the weekend.

J. Crew

Another rapidly growing area is Facebook, many start-ups are offering flash sale sites on their fan pages, especially jewelry vendors. A photo of an item is shown, and the first shoppers who enter a comment saying they want the item are able to purchase it. Again, the sense of limited merchandise and a short time span prompts buying from those who don’t want to “let it get away,” or be “left out,” with actual financial transactions generally handled off-site.

We have been fortunate with many of the sites and made some *marvelous* purchases over the years, particularly back in the early days of the genre. Good products, great prices and solid service.  Later this week we’ll have Parts 2 & 3, looking at some of the more preppish brands sold on the sites, as well as an examination of just how good the deals really are these days… or not.

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ADDENDUM: If interested in signing up for any of the sites, here are links to some where I have shopped *and* enjoyed a positive experience. Another interesting facet of the flash sale business model are the varying rewards offered for those referring customers, most offer merchandise credits of anywhere from $10 to $25 if someone uses your invitation link and also purchases something.

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