I finally took the leap and made my first flash sale site buy. I have been window shopping on flash sale sites like Joss & Main, One King’s Lane, and GroopDealz for a while, but never made a purchase. I get a little anxiety over the time constraint. If I see something I like, I only have a few days (or hours if it is a hot item) to decide if I want to buy. I usually take longer making decisions for online purchases when I have not seen the item in person.
My clients often ask me advice about buying from flash sale sites. Although I don’t have much experience purchasing from them, I do provide a few tidbits of advice. Since I spend so much time online shopping for my clients, I have picked up a thing or two.
- Flash sale sites don’t always have a better or the best price on items. They usually have good prices and the sense of urgency to buy makes you think it must be a great deal, but not always. A lot of times sites like Wayfair and Overstock have the same or better prices on some items.
- Flash sale sites have very limited product photography and details. You usually get one or two pictures of the product and a very limited description. I find it hard to judge the product with limited photos and information.
- Flash sale sites have a “No Return” policy. I will admit this is my biggest hesitation with purchasing on these sites, specifically for larger items like rugs or furniture. Some times sites like Wayfair or Overstock may have the item for the same or better price, plus they allow returns.
So would I recommend buying from flash sale sites? Yes!!! But, with these thoughts in mind:
- Watch before buying. Flash sale sites make a false sense of urgency to buy, because the sale will end in hours or days. But, if you watch these sites long enough, then you will see some items go back on “sale” routinely. Once you know you want a product, then you just have to be patient for it to appear on “sale” again.
- Accessories are low risk. I think small ticket items, like accessories, are relatively low risk. If you love it and can afford it, buy it.
- Shop around. Sometimes it is difficult to get enough information to do this, but if you know the product name or description I recommend searching online to see it is available elsewhere. You may find a better price or the same price at a retailer that accepts returns.
- Have a backup plan. If you buy something that ends up not working or you don’t like it, have a backup plan to offload the item. Since you can’t return it, you would have to try to resell the item. If you got a good deal, it shouldn’t be too hard to resell.
- Expect what you pay for. This is really the moral of my post today. Remember, with some things you get what you pay for or it may be too good to be true.
Here is my experience with my first flash sale site buy:
I bought a pair of “Anthro-Inspired Curtain Panels” for $35. The inspiration, the Coqo Floral Curtain in 96″ length, retails at Anthropologie for $148 per panel. I really wanted these curtains for my basement family room, but I am pretty sure I will never spend $300 on a window covering for one window. I put them on my family room mood board anyway. When I saw a knock-off version on GroopDealz, I jumped at the chance to get the much, much cheaper curtain panels.
I was hesitant, but took the chance. It was only $35 for a pair of curtains. I was a bit skeptical of what I would be getting. The pattern on the curtains was clearly the same, but I was unsure of the material. The picture on GroopDealz looked like printed curtain panels. But, the accompanying description said they were flocked (like the Anthro-version).
The panels arrived and I realized I got what I paid for…a $35 pair of curtain panels. They were definitely not flocked. The design was printed. What I think surprised me most was the fabric. There was no labels on the packaging and no care labels on the panels. My best guess is they are polyester. The ground cloth is pure white, not the linen color of the Anthro-version. The print is more of a cobalt blue, then navy.
Despite the cheap material, I still liked the curtains. I especially liked that I only paid $35 for the pair. I would have preferred a cotton fabric over the polyester, but once they are hanging behind the sectional in the family room I don’t think anyone will notice the material. For my room I actually prefer the bright white and cobalt blue over the darker Anthro-version.
I hung the panels in the basement and LOVE the look. The bold pattern is exactly what I wanted for this space. I found a curtain rod at Target for less than $30. It has round mercury glass finials…LOVE. The panels had a rod pocket at the top, but I flipped them upside down so the pocket forms a large hem at the bottom. I used $15 worth of ring clips to hang them from the curtain rod. So in the end, my new window treatment was about $80 for a curtain rod, 14 ring clips, and two curtain panels.
I will continue to shop flash sale sites, but cautiously and with my expectations in check. I definitely think there are great deals to be had.