It would appear that some niche e-marketers have not only been immune to the recent financial turmoil, but have even managed to improve their sales over the past few months.
We've previously written about high-end fashion retail site Ideeli, whose exclusive members were initially by-invitation only. AdAge shows that various other similar sites, such as Gilt.com, HauteLook.com and RueLaLa.com, have all shown performance improvements in website traffic and sales. Since January, the number of unique visitors has skyrocketed from less than 20,000 to roughly 160,000 per month at both Gilt and Ideeli.
Invitation-only retail sites have already taken off, it would seem. French company, Vente Privee, claims $700 million in annual sales for the past year - in a market that is only a fifth of that of the US (prior to recession).
As for the reason for their recent success, Paul Hurley, Ideeli's founder-CEO, says that because consumers are engaged, there is an opportunity to better educate them about brands in a way that doesn't feel like advertising. "If you go to Ideeli, it doesn't look like there's any advertising. It's fully integrated, and it's structured in such a way that we can solve a lot of different types of very practical problems that marketers have," he said. "We run six to eight different types of programs, depending on what you're trying to accomplish in your marketing or clearing of inventory."