Flash Sales

Felice is hooked on RueLaLa.com.

In today’s "Wall Street Journal" it is revealed that Saks Fifth Avenue, arbiter and seller of first line, high-priced wares, is going into competition with RueLala, and Gilt.com and HauteLook.com.  In other words, Saks is going to sell out of season, oftentimes one year old, yet fully desirable merchandise, at a deep discount one item at a time with a countdown clock.  Buy now, on impulse, or experience the agony of losing a bargain.

I too am a flash site devotee.  I go to Tramdock.com.  Where they purvey skiing equipment, one item at a time, at a deep discount.  Right this very second, they’re selling Scott skis at 55% off.  One color, two sizes.  Buy ’em now or…

Usually, flash sites will send you a daily e-mail (opt-in, you can always check the site yourself).  Telling you about the deals that will unfold in the next twenty four hours.  On hot items, shoppers keep refreshing their browser, divining when that one desirable item in the size and color they want will be revealed.

Everybody loves a bargain.  Everybody loves a deal on something worthwhile.

And the stuff is always good on these sites.  It’s not bargain basement crap.  Sometimes it’s overstock of a special model that turned out to have less desirability than retailers thought.  Sometimes, the new model has changes and the old one has to be blown out.  And if you receive your item and don’t like it, you can return it for free.

In other words, shopping is fun.  Addictive.  You end up buying stuff you didn’t even know about, never mind had a desire to acquire.

Like concert tickets.

How low does the price have to go before you take a flier?

You’ve heard of this band, would you check them out for ten bucks instead of the seventy five it takes a true-blue fan to sit down front?

If most of the concert tickets go unsold, why not find innovative ways to move them?

The artists and agents are standing in the way.  Contracts usually forbid these momentary deep discounts.  But why?  Do acts really not want people to see them? And, if a casual fan comes to see them is the act so bad the newbie will laugh, or be converted on the spot?

Instead of using Goldstar, instead of papering, sell the unsold inventory at a deep discount, via a flash site.

Can you imagine concertgoers all over America checking multiple times a day for deals?  Signing up for e-mail to be told what will go on sale that day?  Imagine what else you can sell/inform them of in said e-mail!

And we all know, the quicker you click, the better your seat.

Felice found out about RueLaLa from her sister.  I found out about Tramdock from EpicSki.com, a forum for skiers.  I kept hearing retailers bitch and consumers be thrilled.  I finally had to check it out for myself.  I bought a waxing iron at deep discount.  When I saw I pair of Smith ski goggles, the exact ones I use, at almost 70% off, I immediately contacted Felice, to tell her to log on and buy them right now!

Furthermore, the customer service is great.  It was unclear which goggle lens to purchase, but the Tramdock person who e-mailed advice had used them all!  These flash sites are not adversarial, they’re like a giant club, everybody in it together to get a deal.

Flash sites are coming to concert ticketing.

It’s just a matter of when.

Is the touring industry gonna be like the record industry, afraid of change, afraid of new technology, afraid of taking a risk?  Or is it going to experiment with the hottest sales technique for unsold inventory today?

You launch it, the public will spread the word.  It’s not about advertising, costs are especially low, and in the concert sphere there’s no issue of returns.

If you want a guaranteed good seat, log on to Ticketmaster at 10 A.M. on Saturday morning.  Better yet, get an American Express card and join the fan club.  But if you don’t need to go to the concert, but if the deal gets attractive enough you will, shouldn’t the industry cater to you too?  You know you’re not getting the best tickets, but you’re getting a deal.  And if you don’t think people are into deals, you never talk to anybody.  And I can’t tell you how many acts I ended up loving after taking a flier on promos in the record store bin in the seventies.  Shall we start with Karla Bonoff, Be Bop Deluxe, Alan Parsons…

One Response to Flash Sales


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  1. […] Bob Lefsetz figures that it will begin with concert ticket sales…  How cool would that be?  Well- we already have scarcity (there are only a number of seats you know..)… so add to that an expiring deal and you may just have something great! […]

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  1. […] Bob Lefsetz figures that it will begin with concert ticket sales…  How cool would that be?  Well- we already have scarcity (there are only a number of seats you know..)… so add to that an expiring deal and you may just have something great! […]

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