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InsideFMM | October 26, 2014

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Flash Sale Site Success Story: Fab.com

Since Fab.com’s launch in June 2011, some critics wondered how yet another flash sale site would do well in an extremely crowded space. Fab.com, however, drew nearly three million new members in just eight months. Vivian Weng, director of fashion for Fab.com, attributes the website’s success to the company’s tag line: “Smile, you’re designed to.”

“What makes Fab so different is the amazing product, merchandising and user experience,” Weng said. “All products chosen for the site are designed to make people smile.” Fab also works a bit differently from other flash sale sites by featuring independent designers. Weng says customers won’t see brands like Alexander Wang or DVF in the fashion category. “While those are great designers and we love them, our mission is to include unique designers and unique products you can’t find anywhere else,” she says.

Last week, Open Source Fashion hosted an NYC Meetup with Weng to discuss upcoming trends with flash sale sites. Depending on your fashion business, Weng shares valuable tips and tricks for working with prevalent flash sale sites.

FMM: How do you work with fashion designers?

VW: Our goal is to build long-term relationships with designers. That’s something that Fab has made very clear. We love nothing more than having an amazing network of designers that we’re just constantly doing sales with when there’s a desire from our customer base. We do try to space designers out so customers don’t see the same brand over and over again.

FMM: What price point works best for your eCom site?

VW: Fab has a wide range of prices. You’ll see a toy for $2 and then a chair for $2,000. For fashion, the sweet spot is between the $50-100 price range. That’s not to say that if it’s a higher price point, it won’t work. fab flash sale website

FMM: Do you develop exclusives for Fab?

VW: We just started talking about it. We’ve been approached for collaborations. Fab has talked about doing Fab-centric labels, but nothing set in stone yet.

FMM: We see a lot of designers who have a missed opportunity because of poor merchandizing. Can you tell us a little more about your photo requirements?

VW: With a lot of our designers, we actually let them use their own photography, which is very different than other flash sale sites. It goes back to our mission of working with independent designers: it’s about unique products and bringing out the essence of these designers. If we don’t have photographs that are up to our standards, we have an in-house photographer where we shoot everything flat (meaning no models involved).

FMM: What are Fab’s communication and marketing strategies to promote the brands?

VW: I think Fab can and is trying to do a better job at making sure brands get the exposure they deserve while they’re on the site. It basically comes down to traffic on the site. Right now, monthly uniques are close to two million. Every designer will always get some real estate and an email going out to three million members. On our blog, we try to create more content around designers, particularly those with interesting stories. And then we obviously have our social media outlets.

FMM: What platforms are most successful at engaging customers and which emerging platforms are you using to tap into new customers?

VW: In terms of traffic, one-third is direct, one-third is email marketing and one-third comes from social sharing. While social accounts for one-third of our traffic, it’s growing quickly. One thing that’s very successful for us is the Fab feed. It’s been one innovation that’s successful for us. In terms of emerging platforms, I know we’re building out a killer iPad app, so look out for that.

FMM: What can we learn from the user acquisition rate of Fab.com?

VW: Again, I think it goes back to the authenticity of the brand. What’s crazy is when [the founders] pivoted from their social network to what Fab is today, they had a splash page up where customers entered their email. In those three months prior to launch, they gathered close to one million email addresses. There wasn’t an eCom site up yet, but it was about the mission and a much-needed space for much needed, accessible modern design. People were referring people to the site well before it launched.

FMM: What do you see as the future trends for online fashion shopping?

VW: In terms of flash sale sites, I’m interested to see how the space evolves. Over the last three years, we’ve seen some type of consolidation and weeding out. You had Daily Candy Swirl, which quietly disappeared. I think that trend will continue. When you think about the original business model for flash sale sites (to clear out excess inventory), that’s not what flash sale sites are doing anymore. Nearly forty percent of Gilt’s merchandise is made for its own channels. It’s a lot of designers taking excess fabrics and they’re making things for these channels. Even with Fab, we don’t see ourselves as an inventory-clearing house. We try to find better ways to be efficient on our back-end so that we can work with designers that they make a profit and satisfy customers. It’s interesting to watch this business model evolve. Also, I think mobile will be important. Right now, Fab customers who come to us through a mobile device is 4x more likely to make purchase. Mobile customers are our most valuable customers.

Photo: Angelito Jusay

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