Like many Americans, I am a big online shopper. I'm busy, I know what I like, and just like my scooped out toasted bagel and coffee, I like it delivered. It started out as just garden variety online shopping, but then a few years ago avid shoppers were blessed with the now wildly successful phenomenon of Flash Sale Sites. It was like we died and went to Century 21 Heaven, minus the smelly crowds and the horrific communal dressing rooms. Clearly, Gilt was the frontrunner in this shopping genre. Since then, a slew of others have popped up and jumped on the luxury bus. In the beginning, it was all fashion all the time. Kara Ross jewelry, Tory Burch flats, Burberry raincoats. Quickly, categories were added. Men, children, travel deals and even home.
That's where I come in. While I love me some Mui Mui platforms and Kenneth Jay Lane cuffs, I am always looking for the latest in home products. Accessories, bedding, furniture and whatever else might be on my mind at the moment. I do this for a living. Even if I'm not shopping, I'm always looking. It's been interesting to watch the evolution of Flash Sale Sites and see how each one is carving out (or not) their niche in this vast and highly profitable market.
I picked the sites I am most familiar with. There are a few more, I know. But, these are my picks and my breakdown of what they're doing and what you can expect if you are not familiar with them. The one common denominator is that you can expect is roughly 70% off retail prices from all of these sites. 70% off what price is the bigger question. More importantly, I want to find things I can't score on a good day at Home Goods.
As I said earlier, Gilt is the pioneer in this shopping genre. Gilt started out as purely fashion and quickly evolved to sell just about everything. I actually wrote about them several months back when they launched Gilt Home. You can snag everything from Michael Aram frames to Sferra linens. They have a very wide variety of items, unquestionably. However, such rapid growth often creates other issues. To me, the site is starting to feel a little overwhelming. Like there's almost too much choice. I've also seen a slight change in the product lineup. In one of their curated design selections there is a chair just shy of $3000. I get it, I'm a designer. But, it might be a little aspirational for the 30-something-year-old shopper they tend to attract. There are far more pieces in the $100-$200 range that will surely keep their customers coming back. I'm going to guess the demographic is a fairly well-heeled, well-educated shopper. Savvy, stylish and knows good stuff but loves a deal. Recently, I had an experience with customer service. On a scale from 1-10 I would give them a 8.
One Kings Lane
If Gilt Home is Barneys, One Kings Lane is Neiman Marcus. The home page looks like it was developed to cater to the Waspy and Faux Waspy sets alike. The pristine and elaborate home entryway, the dog, the perfect flowers. When you click on their "about" link you come to a small section that talks to "the best designers" and the "best in living and giving", etc. They do a lot of designer curations with very unique and expensive pieces. Generally I don't buy $5000 antiques online. Clearly, there are those that do. I am just not one of them. Interestingly, today I saw a certain item I will not mention that I can buy on HSN. Could be that HSN now carries a larger variety of upmarket brands, could be One Kings Lane is looking for the coveted impulse shopper. Likely, a combination of both. I did use some decorative boxes from One Kings Lane on one of my NBC home makeovers and the items were beautiful and they arrived quickly. if you have a ton of money to spend and you are very well versed in high design and antiques, this is your new BFF.
According to their site, they've been around for a couple of years. I only recently became familiar with them. Looks very similar to Gilt. Very. A good mix of fashion, travel, home. I saw a gorgeous set of acrylic chairs yesterday for under $500. I can't speak to their service, but their look screams modeled after Gilt. I may have to go back and see if those chairs are still around. That is a perfect example of something I could probably not get at a Home Goods in a good neighborhood. That's what I'm talking about.
If you're home product junkie like me this is probably not your go-to flash sale. Ideeli is heavy on women's fashion, lighter on everything else. In the home category, there were only three brands available to me today. Sheets, which I probably wouldn't buy without touching (that's just me) and some really cool rugs for under $300. Cute, but a little specific as to decor style. Lastly, there was Rosanna cutlery that made me drool. But, after Christmas, snowed in for weeks I probably don't have a need for pink cutlery no matter how utterly fabulous it is. It was pretty fab, though.
The newest kid on the Flash Sale Site block, the one most closely representing my decor style and my brand itself is The Foundary. Comprised of mostly emerging and under the radar designers at relatively affordable pricing. On The Foundary, I feel like I'm shopping in a cool boutique instead of Bloomingdales or Saks, for example. A variety that is not huge, but enough to keep me coming back. They are owned by the very successful online retail giant, Hayneedle but have done a very good job of defining their brand independently. I bought a dollhouse for my daughter at Christmastime and found the process seamless and pleasant. If you know Hayneedle, their customer service is something they pride themselves on. They have items you may or may not have heard of and they are, in my opinion, very well priced. The Foundary was the only site where I found a clearly defined "about us" section that clearly speaks to their brand. I like that, it's friendly. One to watch in the future.
All in all, there are a plethora of deals to be had in all of the above mentioned sites. It really boils down to who you are as a shopper, your personal style and how much you're willing to spend.
Just like shopping in person, you have your haunts and I have mine. And we are all looking for a great deal.
Check your local TV listings for more of Courtney Cachet's style and design ideas. You can catch her frequent appearances on NBC nationwide where she dishes out all the latest in home and lifestyle! Keep up with her online at http://www.facebook.com/TheCourtneyCachetPage