My youngest daughter shared with me a new website, NoMoreRack.com. I was intrigued by the incredibly deep discounts offered on a wide variety of merchandise. In fact, I ended up buying a $100 set of headphones for $22. There were other truly amazing deals to be had, including laptops for less than $200! After doing some research into this one site, I learned that there is a new category of websites emerging based on what are called 'Flash Sales.'
What Is A Flash Sale?
You've heard the term 'flash mob;' now there are 'flash sales.' I could not find one agreed on definition of what a flash sale actually is, but the idea is limited time sales that are over in a 'flash' (thus the name). Some people consider Groupon type offers a flash sale (and I would agree), others suggest that a flash sale website offers only a handful of discounted items at a time, while others argue that a flash site is simply any site that offers deep discounts. It appears that what we are talking about here is what used to be called 'clearance sales.' While I was a kid in Chicago my mom made it a regular practice to hit the outlet stores throughout the city. Deep discounts on out of season and discontinued merchandise were plentiful. So, you can consider flash sales to be online clearance sales (it should also be noted that flash sales are not just limited to physical merchandise and can also include travel deals as well). One difference in today's flash sales from old fashioned clearance sales, is that on occasion a new item may be discounted as a part of its promotional launch. In these cases, you are not buying yesterday's hot item, but maybe tomorrow's.
I won't spend a lot of time here trying to settle the argument over what is and what is not a true flash sale website. Listed below are those widely accepted as the leading flash sales sites.
MyHabit (operated by Amazon.com)
What You Will Like About Flash sales
Of course, everyone loves the discounts. But you will also find a wide variety of items that change frequently. Even if you make a repeat visit to one of the above sites within a few hours, you will find a substantial turnover in inventory. If you are interested in new products, you will likely find a lot of things you may never see in stores (especially techy gadget items).
What You May Not Like About Flash Sales
Bargains come and go quickly, so you have to act fast. If you are not very disciplined with your spending you might end up spending too much money very quickly as the deals can be irresistible. Sometimes you may find a better deal elsewhere. In the example of the headphones I bought, they supposedly represented a retail value of $100. I wanted to be sure I was getting a bargain so I compared my 'deal' against prices at Amazon. The headphones were $60 over there (yep, I was still getting a good deal, but not quite as much as the $78 discount that I first thought). Depending on the site you buy from, you won't likely find as generous of a return policy as a standard online retailer (and shipping costs my be more as well).
Flash Sales Popping Up Everywhere
While some would suggest that the only legitimate flash sales are those that take place on websites entirely dedicated to the concept, we find them many times on regular retail sites. Take Amazon.com for example. Yes, they do have their own flash sales site (listed above), but on their regular retail site you will find their 'Deal Of The Day' and 'Lightning Deals' which represent a modern day version of the old Kmart Blue Light Special (see video below).
Go High Tech With Flash Sales
Most of these sites offer smart phone apps and e mail alerts which keep you up to date in real time on the latest deals. This may be especially helpful if you can be patient and can wait to make that purchase until the item you want becomes deeply discounted.
My Own Flash Sale?
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I love the idea of these flash sales, especially for gift buying. Most of these sites feature products that represent items what are more indulgences than the basic necessities of life (luxury goods at discounted prices). I find them to be sort of like a discounted version of the popular home shopping shows on cable TV. If you like to peruse interesting new items and also enjoy discounts you will really love these sites. As a tech gadget lover myself, I especially enjoyed 'window shopping' all of the latest tech deals. In fact, I almost bought a 'Dick Tracy' style gadget for $25 that would have made it possible to receive phone calls (via bluetooth) on a wristwatch (no, I didn't need it and didn't buy it).
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