Just four years ago flash sales were the “next big thing” and stormed onto the eCommerce scene during a sluggish economy. Consumers were looking to cut costs and retailers were looking to unload excess inventory – the match seemed as if it was made in heaven. Different from the initial daily deal model in its products don’t “expire” after 24 hours, the flash sales industry has continued to see growth like much of the eCommerce industry. But with growth and success comes competition – there are approximately 100 flash sale sites currently online today and as many as 150 are expected to launch by 2017.
However, some consumers and experts believe the “novelty” of the flash sale industry is wearing off. Many consumers are still excited to open an e-mail from their favorite flash sale site but many have suffered “deal fatigue” and even industry experts are having difficulty keeping up with the rapid growth and changes in the industry. Here are 5 ways in which the flash sale industry is changing:
- Growth of flash sale sites will soon begin to slow – Recent research from IBISWorld has predicted that flash sale sites will see revenue growth next year of 12.4%, down from 26.3% last year. As more flash sale sites pop up and competition becomes more direct among specific product categories it only makes sense that revenues will begin to decline.
- Flash sale sites will become more segmented – With so many flash sale sites now in existence consumers are looking to specific sites which focus on a small selection of similar products. For example, there are currently flash sale sites focusing on high fashion, kids, electronics and home décor – each with their own unique audience and customers.
- Offset discounts through social sharing – Some flash sale sites are finding it more difficult to offer the same discounts in previous years and are asking more of consumers to merit these larger discounts. One way is through social sharing, where consumers share their purchases or favorite deals on social networks for a better discount on the price. Essentially the consumers are trading the value of their social brand for a discount with the flash sale site.
- Scrap limited time offers and focus on community – There are certain flash sale sites which have moved away from the “limited time” discount model and have focused more on the sale and community of their site. This especially works well for sites that offer “unique” or “quirky” products and have a value-add service in the eyes of their customers for originality. Some sites have even removed the sale element altogether, offering instead exclusive products at full price to their community.
- Customer data allows for more individualized marketing – Through advancements in data collection flash sale sites now have more customer data than ever before. This allows the sites to offer the most specific and relevant deals to current customers based on their provided information. This strengthens the bond between the flash sale site and consumers in the face of growing competition and increases the conversion rate of the site as interested consumers are looking at products relevant to their lifestyle.
Like many industries, the flash sale industry continues to evolve and adapt to the ever-changing eCommerce landscape. While its role as a discount merchant was in demand a few years ago, this demand is decreasing and it’s up to flash sale sites to listen to the new demands being voiced by their customers and community. Whether online retailers should partner with flash sale sites is an individual brand decision based on many variables but remember this – consumers always love a great deal.