Written by Kendra
What’s a flash sale site, you say?
Flash sale sites are online outlets who sell items at very low sale prices, but the catch is that there is a limited inventory, and the sale duration is limited (usually runs between 1 and 5 days long). They are free to join and have new items every day. There are many variations of this type of site, but that’s the basic stuff that makes it a flash sale.
If you’re not much of an online shopper, but you’re really into getting a good deal, this guide might appeal to you. If you’re one of those people, I’m here as an experienced flash sale shopper to give you some quick tips to get started, as well as links to my favorite sites.
Ask around for a referral before you sign up.
Not all sites have these, but if you sign up through a friend’s referral link, they often get a small bonus (which is nice ) and sometimes you get a little bonus too!
The following are my (Kendra’s) invite links to my favorite flash sites. Signing up with them gives me (and sometimes you also) a little bonus. If you really are opposed to using my link, feel free to search the sites and sign up that way.
Once you sign up, share your own referral link around!
Ideeli (my very favorite): There is a little of everything here: women’s, men’s, home stuff, and occasionally kid’s stuff.
Fab: This is actually one of my newest discoveries, and it’s so fun! They sell lots of artsy stuff and unique items you truly won’t find many other places. I’ve bought neat prints there for our home and as gifts for others.
Zulily: Most of the stuff here is geared toward moms and kids, but there are general women-related sales too.
Modnique: Mostly women’s apparel, some men’s.
MYHABIT: This is amazon.com’s sister site for flash sales. It’s pretty much entirely women’s apparel.
Browse with specific goals for what you actually need to buy
Because sales are for a limited time, it’s easy to get suckered into buying stuff you don’t need. When you see that a sale only has minutes left, ticking away, you start telling yourself things like “I have to buy this because I’ll never find a dress like this ever again!!!”
Most of these sites have “cart timers” too, meaning that after you put an item in your cart, it’s on hold for 15 or 20 minutes. If you don’t actually buy it in that time frame, they take it back out of your cart. This is due to the limited inventory, but it also creates another sense of urgency to buy. Yes, you might miss out on an item that goes quick, but don’t let the cart timer push you into buying something you don’t need!
Getting a $300 jacket for $20 is a steal, but only if you actually need a jacket….otherwise you just spent $20.
Don’t be too rushed to look at the fine print
Because of the fast pace of the sales, you have to be careful to make sure the item is exactly what you’re looking for. For clothing especially, make sure you pick the right size (Hallie has a nice post on that here), and look at the washing instructions for things like dry clean only or hand wash.
Check out the discount amount, specifically
I’ve seen things on flash sale sites with 40-80% off, which is awesome, but I’ve also seen items with only 5% off or less! Make sure you look at how good of a deal you’re getting, and consider searching the item to make sure there isn’t a better price elsewhere. Flash sales are in no way a guarantee that you’ll buy it at the best price.
Understand the return policy.
The far, far, majority of flash sale sites have limited return policies, if not final sale only. Although some of these sites accept returns, it is not common, so I advice you to not buy through flash sale sites unless you are certain you want the item! The reason they are able to sell at low prices is because their inventories consist of clearance merchandise, usually from the end of a season. Which brings me to the next point….
Be prepared to wait for your purchase to arrive.
If you are like me and slightly (ok, completely) coddled by the gloriousness of 2-day shipping from Amazon Prime, you may be surprised at this fact. Flash sale sites usually do not actually get the merchandise until after the sale is over: they then have to wait for it to arrive and then repackage it to send to you. That’s why you’ll often see notices that your item won’t ship for 2-4 weeks. This is how they keep the prices low. Keep this in mind so you don’t get in any timing issues with your items arriving!
Stick with the free membership
A lot of sites have upgrades available, but they really aren’t necessary to get the deals. For example, Ideeli has what they call “first row members” who get to shop every sale an hour before everyone else, for a $6.99 a month fee. In my opinion, not worth it. You might miss out on a few items, but whatever.
I’ve scored some awesome deals on these sites, such as dresses for myself and gifts for Christmas or birthdays. Hope this guide helps you navigate the world of flash sales so you can get some great deals too!
Have another question? Think I missed an important tip? Let me know in the comments!