Flash in the pan: why the private sales fad crashed and burned

Flash in the pan: why the private sales fad crashed and burned

Oh, ye of little truth. The co-founder of the private sales site vente-privee, Ilan Benhaim, recently told a crowded conference hall that his site added 10k users per day last year yet, rather surprisingly, doesn't pay for traffic. Apparently, it's all word of mouth in the private sales world. It's all buzz and peer-to-peer and social. Except, clearly, it isn't.

Unless, of course, someone else paid for this ad...

Google advert for vente-privee

I'm not surprised that vente-privee advertises, but we are a little surprised that Mr Benhaim felt the need to bend the truth like that. There's no way a site like vente-privee could possibly sustain itself without calling in the keyword cavalry. Why? Because private sales / members'-only sales / secret sales / flash sales (call 'em what you will, they're all the same thing) are inherently un-social, for these three reasons:

1. For your eyes only?

There's a common ruse when it comes to private sale e-stores. It's expressed differently from site to site but, basically, it translates roughly along these hoary old lines: "Our prizes are so crrRRRazy, our suppliers will only let us show them to our members." Now, admittedly, I had an extra portion of cynicism with our cornflakes this morning,


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Five ways gamification can ignite your retail sales

Five ways gamification can transform retail

I have no idea how fruit machines work. Sure, I get the 'line up three bunches of cherries to win' classic, but the all-singing-all-blinking monstrosity that mocked me in the pub yesterday? Absolutely clueless. And yet, somehow, its combination of twinkly lights, bashy buttons and blippy noises had me chucking coins into it like owning money was going out of fashion.

That's because, as a species, we're far more likely to engage with something if there's an element of gaming involved. I'm sure there's an evolutionary imperative behind all this: if you took a chance on the lady monkey with the weirdy, opposable thumbs, there was a better chance your offspring would survive the great banana famine of 7,000,000 years BC. That kind of thing. Don't ask me, ask Richard Dawkins.

Anyway, we love gaming (and its sidekick, competition), and the introduction of these elements - conceptually known as 'gamification' - into any environment works wonders. The LinkedIn profile completeness bar is a famous example, and rightly so: users fill in more and more info to achieve a 100% complete 'score' and, in so doing, provide mountains more data back to LI, its users and, of course, its


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