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Originally published May 3, 2011 at 9:57 AM | Page modified May 4, 2011 at 11:27 AM

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Amazon.com launches new flash-sale website focused on fashion

Amazon.com launched a new members-only website Tuesday, becoming the latest online retailer to offer limited-time deals on designer clothing...

Seattle Times business reporter

quotes Oh man, what a disappointment. I went to the site hoping to buy a Canon EX580 II, or... Read more
quotes On Tuesday, for example, MyHabit offered a Doo.Ri women's halter dress for $398, down... Read more
quotes Just expensive crap there. Read more

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Amazon.com launched a new members-only website Tuesday, becoming the latest online retailer to offer limited-time deals on designer clothing.

The new site, called MyHabit.com, promises high-end merchandise at deep discounts every day beginning at 9 a.m. on the West Coast.

On Tuesday, for example, MyHabit offered a Doo.Ri women's halter dress for $398, down from $995, and Saurette girl's sundresses for under $50, rather than the regular $79 and up, giving shoppers until Friday morning to make a purchase.

With MyHabit, Seattle-based Amazon enters one of the fastest-growing segments of the fashion business. Four top "flash-sale" websites — Gilt Groupe, HauteLook, ideeli and RueLaLa — were projected to generate $900 million in 2010, according to research firm eMarketer.

Amazon's reputation as the world's largest Internet retailer gives MyHabit a competitive edge, said Maria Renz, president of the new site.

"Amazon equals trust for our customers," she said. "We deliver products when we say we will and offer great experiences."

The site's other selling points include 360-degree video footage of featured merchandise, free delivery of purchases within four days, and free return shipping, she said.

Shoppers must sign up for daily email alerts, but a membership costs nothing and takes only a few seconds.

Flash-sale sites thrived during the recession as shoppers became more and more bargain-driven and designer brands had an excess of inventory they were willing to unload online for short bursts of time. The trend has staying power, even in a post-recessionary environment, because "people love a great deal," Renz said.

"They love finding that amazing blouse or pair of shoes and getting it for 60 percent off," she said. "Our intent is to be a matchmaker between our customers and brands, and provide the opportunity for brands to introduce themselves to a new incremental customer base."

Amazon is no newbie to the flash-sale marketplace: Last year, it bought electronics discounter Woot! and BuyVIP, a Spanish website that offers limited-time deals on fashion to more than 6 million members in Europe.

Another Seattle-based retailer, Nordstrom, announced plans in February to buy Los Angeles-based HauteLook for up to $270 million in stock.

Amy Martinez: 206-464-2923 or amartinez@seattletimes.com

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