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Flash Sale Sites – What to Expect in 2011

One of the things 2010 will be remembered for within the eCommerce industry is being the year of the “flash sale” site. With the majority of these sites having restricted memberships and only offering limited time deals at a drastically discounted price, it’s no surprise that given the economic climate these sites are catching on. In fact, the three most visited flash sale sites, Hautelook.com, Gilt.com, and ideeli.com have all seen at least a 60% increase in traffic per month compared to last year with ideeli.com more that quadrupling their average monthly visits from one year ago.

But what will be the future of flash sale sites? The majority of the popular flash sale sites are currently geared toward apparel and luxury goods, targeted primarily at young adults. Not until recently have other flash sale sites in different industries started to emerge, showing that the flash sale site is far from an industry specific fad.

Here are a few examples…

Totsy focuses primarily on baby and children’s apparel, furniture, and accessories catering their membership towards young mothers. The site was founded in June 2009 and really started to gain traction in the summer of 2010. Totsy has seen their site traffic grow from approximately 20,000 visits / month to over 110,000 visits / month over the past year.

One Kings Lane features an array of home décor products at dramatically discounted rates. Started in May 2009 and now run by former Scene7 CEO Doug Mack, One Kings Lane has been featured in the New York Times and O Magazine. All of the media exposure has caused the average monthly site traffic to increase over 500% in the past year from 75k visitors / month to 375k visitors / month.

As a spin-off of successful flash sale site Gilt.com, Jetsetter features travel deals for their members which are only available at specific times each day. Founded in September 2009, the site has really carved out its own niche in the flash sale industry but beware, I hear the wait list to get in is fairly long! Jetsetter saw a huge spike in site visits over the summer (over 300k visitors per month in June / July / August) but has seen traffic drop as the peak travel season ended.

With all of these flash sale sites emerging in 2010, it begs the question – what will happen to the flash sale industry in 2011? It certainly has legs and won’t be going away anytime soon. With that said, here are some industries I think could really do well with niche flash sale sites…

  • Tech Supplies – This, in my opinion, is the next area for flash sales to expand into. There could be a great opportunity to attract unique tech-affluent males and females through wholesale deals on computer parts and accessories.
  • Pet / Animal Lovers – Especially with the “empty nester” population increasing and feeling more comfortable online, there’s certainly an opportunity for this age group to spoil their pets even more. While it’s been shown that most flash sale sites appeal to young people, this may be due more to the nature of the sites (fashion, luxury, etc) and as flash sale sites become more prominent on the internet the level of acceptance will also increase.
  • Sport and Celebrity Memorabilia – This industry would be absolutely perfect for a flash sale site given the low quantities of some items and the mass appeal of sports and entertainment. Have some extra autographed posters after the new movie premier? No problem… put them up for sale and they’ll be sold in no time. In addition, rare memorabilia items could also benefit from a private auction element where unique items (such a celebrity’s handbag from a movie) are auctioned off for charity to the highest bidder while the flash site makes money from sponsorships and additional sales from the increased site traffic.

 

So what do you think will be the future of the “flash sale” industry in 2011 and moving forward? What industries would they succeed in? Feel free to comment below…