Private web stores are booming

shoppingIn real life, you regularly come across them: warehouses where stocks of well-known trademarks are sold at unbeatable prices to a private customer base. Now, they can also be found on the web, where they are referred to as social shopping communities. The principle is simple: web shops sell new fashion items and accessories during a brief period (two or three days) at bargain prices. Customers know about the sale via e-mail. Only those who received an invitation can access the web store, which besides remains invisible to search engines. The benefit of this is that the outside world cannot see the prices at which the products are sold, and trademarks can keep selling their products in “ordinary” points of sale at the usual price.

These mystery web shops are very popular, especially in times of economic hardship. Customers can purchase their branded products at dumped prices, and trademarks can clear their stocks without doing themselves a disservice. The most popular example is VentePrivée, which is active in France, Germany, England, Italy and Spain, with 3.5 million members. Some other well-know ones are: Brands4Friends and 42HRSClub. In the Netherlands ShopVIP was born late last year and already boasts 50,000 members.