It all started with Gilt.com, which invented the online private sale. It was a marketing coup — take overstock designer merchandise, create demand for it by limiting access to a 72-hour shopping window, and make the site available only to members, who needed an invitation. Then the copycats came: Rue-la-la, Privé, Jack Threads, ideeli, One Kings Lane, Beyond The Rack, Ivory Trunk… even the gay social network startup Fab.com decided to change gears and become a design-inspired private sale site. All pretense of "private" is gone, now that Amazon.com, the behemoth of online shopping has put their hat in the ring with the launch of MYHABIT.
MYHABIT adds one innovation to the private sale genre: instant video clips of models in motion. In addition to static images, each item inclues a short video of the garment model doing a 360 turn. It a great improvement to online shopping, and I expect to see it widely copied. BKB readers save $10 off their orders through September 1, 2011 when they enter coupon code MYHABITX at checkout.
As a consumer-advocate, I have mixed feelings about all of these sites. I have scored some great deals on them, but they prey on compulsive shoppers even more than home shopping television channels. The internet is virtually inescapeable. Combine that access with the cuningly crafted allure of scarcity and time limits, and you have a money- and time-suck recipe even greater than Farmville. So, shopper beware. Private Sale shopping (really, all online shopping) has the potential to save you time and money. But it also allows retailers to deploy their most effective selling techniques with extraordinary efficiency. If you think you might have a shopping problem, make your next purchase this book: To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop.