Tips for Flash Site Success

Always be early. Most flash sale sites clearly state when their new sales events are posted, and at the very least, provide a preview of coming sales, sometimes up to a week in advance.

Buy fast, then wait. Often if you buy an item at the start of the flash sale period, you'll have to wait until the sale is over and purchases have been tallied and separated from looky-loos who place items in their cart with little intent to purchase. Some sites deal with this by only allowing an item to stay in your cart or bag for a limited time -- say 15 minutes -- and will automatically remove it if you don't take action before time is up.

Get Wait-Listed. If you do happen to miss out a desired item in the style, size or color you need, be sure to wait-list that item (if offered) to be notified of future availability. Sometimes those cart-napped items that the aforementioned looky-loos hang on to end up being released to those on wait lists.

Avoid in-box fatigue. In the beginning, with deals so great that you never, ever want to miss out, you may be tempted to sign up for daily emails from flash sites. However, if you don't want your inbox to overflow daily with "DON'T MISS! HOT DEALS" emails -- and you don't want to end up in the proverbial poor house from being tempted to make multiple purchases (unless of course you're shopping for other people on your gift list) you might want to adjust email settings to a weekly digest if available, or better yet, follow or fan your fave flash sites on Facebook or Twitter, or wherever they have a social presence. One exception -- some sites ONLY announce new sales via email, so you may want to keep them on your safe sender list, or take a moment to check their upcoming sales onsite.

Credit where credit is due. Be sure to read all of the print, fine or otherwise, to be sure that your purchase can be returned. Also be sure to pay attention to whether the item is eligible for a full refund or a site credit only, and choose your selections carefully.

Refer and save (more). Even though most of these sites have done away with requiring members to be invited by other members, you can still reap some benefits like a site purchase credit or discount if you invite your friends, they accept your invitation and make an initial purchase. Check each site for specifics to see how you can save even more.


Flash Site Roundup

Fashion Apparel and Accessories
Beyond the Rack
Savings: Up to 80% off top designer brands
Sales Event Schedule: 9am and 5pm ET, daily
Event Duration: 48 hours
Gilt
Savings: Up to 60% off retail
Sales Event Schedule: 12 noon EST, daily
Event Duration: 36 hours - two weeks
HauteLook
Savings: Enjoy 50-75% off on luxury brands
Sales Event Schedule: 11am, daily
Event Duration: 48 hours
ideeli
Savings: Save up to 80% on designer apparel
Sales Event Schedule: 12 noon EST for regular members
Sales Event Duration: Varies
Rue La La
Savings: "Coveted designer offerings at up to 80% off retail."
Sales Event Schedule: 11am, daily
Event Duration: 48 hours
Fashions for the Home
Joss & Main
Savings: Up to 70% off retail
Sales Event Schedule: 11am EST, daily
Event Duration: 72 hours
One Kings Lane
Savings: Up to 70% off home decor
Sales Event Schedule: 11am EST, daily
Event Duration: 72 hours