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Get Bulgari and Zac Posen on the cheap: (Not so) Private sales and exclusive shopping discounts

Fashion, Shopping

Is there such a thing as a truly private sale or discount anymore? I started thinking about this when I read a Closet Therapy post about a private private sale at Gilt, an invitation-only designer shopping group (read this for a bit more about Gilt Groupe’s model).

In pre-internet times, retailers could send out special coupon codes and notices about secret sales to their customers, and those sales would remain relatively private. It was just more difficult to share that information with others. But these days, I can do a quick Google search for coupons, discounts, sales and limited releases and find basically anything I want. I recently got an email from Newport News about an online, one-day-only, $10 shoe sale, so I picked out a couple pairs I liked and added them to my shopping cart. Then I Googled “newport news coupon” and found one 20% off coupon code and another for free shipping.  I got my shoes for $8 a pair and didn’t have to pay for shipping. That is just ridiculous. (PS – The shoes are great! I love NN for inexpensive, cute footwear.)

How many blogs broadcast just this kind of information about discounts and sales? I read a few of them, and I know there are many, many more. The Budget Fashionista is a good example; she posts a new retail deal or discount every day. This information is so easy to find if you just look for it.  In fact, if you’re paying full price for something you find online, you’re not looking hard enough. You can almost always find a better deal.

So that leads me back to invitation-only groups like Gilt. This might be one of the only ways to ensure that sales remain actually exclusive. I remember a few years ago when Gmail was first released. To sign up for an account, someone had to invite you, which means you had to know someone who knew someone who worked at Google.  Because of this, it took several months for access to spread. If there had just been an access code, anyone could have posted that code on a blog and everyone could have found it, signed up and had Gmail almost immediately.  But since you had to receive an invitation from someone with an account, and members only had a very limited number of invitations, access to Gmail was very exclusive.

And as I was discussing a few weeks ago, the fashion industry thrives on exclusivity. Newport News is not an exclusive retailer, but the designers who sell through Gilt are; designers like Marchesa, Rachel Roy, and Bulgari have sample sales exclusively for Gilt members. I think this is a great model.  It is incredibly difficult to keep anything a secret on the web (in fact, that’s why we love the internet!), but it seems worth it to try to come up with new ways to do this online. I keep coming back to the thought that the fashion industry has the potential to make some really big innovations in this area, and I look forward to seeing how this plays out.

Jenn @ October 17, 2008


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  6. Value Your Private Sales and Your Prospects Will, Too | The Invesp Blog: E-commerce and Landing page Optimization March 2, 2009 @ 4:25 pm

    […] you’re worried about the exclusivity factor (how does anyone keep anything private on the Internet?), you’re not alone. Customers are, too. They know that once invitations hit the […]

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