While most online stores operate by opening their virtual doors to just about everyone, there is a niche segment of ecommerce retailing that thrives on exclusivity. Invite-only stores or private shopping clubs require a person to be approved as a member before they can shop the items offered by the store.
This alternative model of selling on the Web has seen tremendous growth in the past couple of years, spurred by the recession and consumers’ need to cut spending and find better deals.
Private shopping sites typically buy the excess merchandise directly from luxury brands and designers, and then mark items up to make a profit. Given the exclusivity of membership, these sites are attractive to high-end designers as offering their products on these private shopping clubs doesn’t diminish the image of their luxury brands, as compared to getting their products sold in discount stores like Ross or TJ Maxx.
How Private Shopping Clubs Work: Ideeli.com
An example of an invite-only shopping site is Ideeli.com , which offers brand-name fashion, home, beauty and other luxury products. Ideeli.com is a veritable online sample sale, with prices up to 80 percent off retail. The site offers for sale a limited number of highly discounted merchandise from luxury retailers for a short period of time.
Some of Ideeli’s sales events feature apparel and accessories products from Lanvin, Chloe, Christian Lacroix, Dolce and Gabbana, Gucci, Max Mara, Zac Posen, Pucci, and other high-end designers and brand names. They also offer home items such as Calvin Klein Home, Nourison rugs, Aviva Stanoff decorative pillows, and Coffeeshop | Latte. The site also does red tag events and giveaway contests, and recent giveaways include Jimmy Choo shoes, Derek Lam clutch, and Linea Pelle bags.
Membership is by invitation only, though you can apply online on the Ideeli.com site (acceptance is not immediate, and you may have to wait until the site accepts new members). A faster and easier way to get accepted is to be referred by an existing member or one of their partner media sites. Once approved, you will be sent an email about the product lines offered for the day. The virtual “sales door” opens only at 11 a.m. EST. with sales lasting about 36 hours, or until items are sold out. The really hot items are gone in under an hour, with some as quick as a few minutes.
The shopping experience in Ideeli is fun, exciting and fast-paced. Just like Apple fanatics wait in line for hours to get hold of the newest Apple products, the anticipation and excitement starts to build up for Ideeli members especially as the clocks gets closer to the opening time. Star-Telegram.com http://www.star-telegram.com described the excitement of buying from Ideeli as this:
“You have to jump on it,” says Abby Stark, a junior at Texas Christian University. “If a good boutique is coming up, there are three of us who will run to the computer lab so that we don’t miss anything, and then we’ll run back to class.”
Once you put the item in your shopping cart, you only have about 10 minutes to complete the purchase or the item becomes available again for other buyers. No time for dilly-dally, otherwise you’d see the dreaded “Sold Out” sign marking the item.
The site generates revenues via their product sales as well as membership upgrade to what is called First Row. First Row members get to shop an hour early than the non-paying members (hence, hot items can be gone before the event opens to non-paying members). First Row members can purchase the items beginning at 11 a.m., while non-paying Second Row members can buy an hour later. The paying members are also offered exclusive First Row sales events.
Even with a significantly lower number of customers, Ideeli.com has very motivated customers who will watch the clock (yes, the site even uses a countdown clock!) until the sale starts.
Other Private Shopping Clubs
Invite-only shopping sites are proving that the number of visitors is not important; it’s all about having the right visitors who are passionate about the products you offer and are willing to buy them.
Aside from Ideeli.com, other private shopping club sites include:
- BuyVIP http://www.buyvip.com = European private shopping club
- One Kings Lane http://www.onekingslane.com = top home decor brands and designers at up to 70% off retail.
- Gilt Groupe http://www.gilt.com = fashion and luxury items for about 70% off
- Glamlist.com http://www.glamlist.com = private sales at sample prices for fashion and luxury products, high-tech, baby items, among others
- Private Outlet http://www.privateoutlet.com = European shopping club
- Rue La La http://www.ruelala.com = premier-brand, private sale Boutiques
- Vente-Privée http://en.vente-privee.com = original founder of exclusive sales events on the Internet specializing in fashion and stylish homeware.
- Editor’s Closet http://www.editorscloset.com = high end products, including apparel, accessories, jewelry, watches and children’s products
- Haute Look http://www.hautelook.com = top brands for women, men, kids, home, and beauty
- Secret Style http://www.secretstyle.com = designer fashions
- Billion Dollar Babes http://www.billiondollarbabes.com = fashion, home and beauty
- Totsy http://www.totsy.com = members only site for moms
- Jack Threads https://www.jackthreads.com = skate, streetwear and contemporary fashion
Editor’s Note: PowerHomeBiz.com is not affiliated with any of the above companies. However, I am a member of Ideeli.com, and loves to shop their deals.