Cover Story: Taking the Royal Road to Success
Some may say 2010 was the year of the "flash-sale" site. Given the economic climate, it's no surprise these sites caught on — the majority of them offer members limited-time deals at drastically discounted prices. In fact, the three most visited flash-sale sites, Hautelook.com, Gilt.com and ideeli.com, all saw at least a 60 percent increase in traffic per month compared to 2009, one study found. And as of press time, Gilt Groupe was on track to hit $450 million in revenue for 2010.
One Kings Lane is another flash-sale site to watch. Like the retailers mentioned above, One Kings Lane is an online shopping destination that's free to join. Unlike those sites, however, which focus on discounted apparel and accessories, One Kings Lane features limited-quantity designer home goods and home essentials, entertaining and travel needs, and gift selections at prices discounted up to 70 percent.
The online retailer handpicks merchandise from vendors and designers to offer a curated selection, which it then sells below retail. One Kings Lane offers at least two to three brand- and theme-specific sales during a 72-hour time frame, five days a week. To help get the word out about its sales, One Kings Lane alerts its members via daily emails.
The secret to success for the almost two-year-old site? Alison Pincus, co-founder of One Kings Lane, says it's all about spectacular merchandising, innovative marketing and unique brand positioning.
"We work very hard to select the right products, the right brands, the right designers and the right collections," she says. "Our customers come to us again and again because our message of quality rings true." What's more, "leading designers like [One Kings Lane] because we're attracting the right audience, which appreciates the brands, the access and the treasure hunt," Pincus adds.
Not Another Flash in the Pan
One Kings Lane was co-founded in April 2009 in San Francisco by Pincus, a longtime digital media maven, and Susan Feldman, a retail and apparel executive. Both loved high-end home décor.