Snap up Online Savings
Who has time to shop with children? For the time-crunched mom, a new generation of online shopping sites has launched that make it easier to find high-quality mom, baby and children’s goods and services at bargain prices. Think of it as hitting a virtual sale rack, a warehouse sale or the premium outlets, with the loot ranging from discounted groceries to designer diaper bags.
The twist, though, is that you have to act quickly before the sale ends or the item runs out.
Online shopping used to be about browsing through pages and pages of products, sorting them by size, price and color.
In the latest trend, only a small selection of items – sometimes just one – are available for a short period of time, making the searching part of the shopping experience short and sweet.
Parents don’t have the time to hunt for new products and brands, especially specialty baby goods, says Darrell Cavens, CEO of Zulily and a father of two. Zulily helps by going out and finding it for them.
The downside? The clock-is-ticking mentality can push consumers to pull the trigger and buy things they later realize they don’t really want or need.
Past online deals have included 41 percent off Earth Baby’s diaper service through Plum District, 45 percent off aden + anais sleeping bags through BabySteals and about 50 percent off clothing from Richmond’s Rabbit Moon through Zulily.
For the manufacturers, it’s a chance to offload excess or past season’s merchandise and to showcase their brand before consumers who may not be familiar with them. Shoppers benefit by picking up the goods and services at less than the regular price.
“It helps us,” says Rabbit Moon co-founder Chris Lun. “It gives people an opportunity to buy our brand and experience it so the next time they walk into their neighborhood boutique and see it there, they might recognize it.”
Ushma Upadhyay, a mom to a 6-month-old son in San Francisco, keeps an eye out on Mama Bargains, Babysteals, Plum District and several other sites, picking up items that she has heard about but hasn’t had time to go out and buy. Her steals have included a baby carrier for a friend, sleepsacks and teething necklaces.
“It’s hard to bring a baby to a shopping mall,” she says. “They don’t have as much patience for shopping.”
Plus, she adds, there’s a certain thrill to scoring a particularly good deal online. “The idea of ‘this is your one deal’ and the time deadline makes it more enticing,” she says. “You have to make a decision. It’s now or never. It makes it more fun.”
Ellen Lee, a mother of two, covers family technology for Bay Area Parent.
Ways to Shop #1
Deals of the Day
Each day, the site offers a local deal, such as discounted groceries or a trip to a neighborhood spa. In some cases, a certain number of people have to purchase it for the deal to go live. In a few rare instances, if not enough people show interest, the deal doesn’t happen.
Groupon.com started the trend about two years ago and remains the biggest name, though similar sites have followed. In the San Francisco Bay Area, several sites offer local deals, including Plum District for moms and Savvy Source, a site for preschool reviews and parenting advice that also offers weekly museum, zoo and other children-centric deals. Several aggregating sites and blogs have sprouted to track local deals, including the Deal Map. Past offers have included annual memberships to the Bay Area Discovery Museum, swim lessons at La Petit Baleen and a $15 gift card to Whole Foods for $6.
Plum District – plumdistrict.com
Groupon – groupon.com
Living Social – livingsocial.com
Savvy Source –savvysource.com/psn/web/localSavings
Bloomspot – bloomspot.com
HomeRun – homerun.com
Joffer – myjoffer.com
Fresh Guide – freshguide.com
Town Hog – townhog.com
Ways to Shop #2
Item of the Day
At an appointed hour each day, the site offers an item for sale at a deep discount. Shoppers have to act fast, as once it’s sold out, the sale is over. In some cases, the site will offer a new deal once the first has ended.
The trend seemed to start by accident. In 2004, a Texas electronics retailer had extra merchandise and created woot.com to offer one product for sale at a time. The website took off – and was later acquired by Amazon – and has since inspired similar sites selling all sorts of merchandise, from children’s clothing to outdoor gear to wine. Websites and blogs have also been created just to track all the daily deals available, including bantler.com.
BabySteals – babysteals.com
KidSteals – kidsteals.com
Kids Woot – kids.woot.com
Eco Baby Buys – ecobabybuys.com
Baby Half Off – babyhalfoff.com
Jasmere (slightly different in that the price drops as more people purchase it) – jasmere.com
Ways to Shop #3
Only members can see and shop the deals. Up to 80 percent off the retail price, they last for about 72 hours or until the items are sold out. Some sites such as ideeli.com give members first dibs – an hour head start – if they pay a fee.
Private sales started gaining ground in Europe several years ago and made their way to the U.S. about two years ago. The sites say that by limiting access to the sale, more exclusive brands, from Coach to Marc Jacobs, are willing to sell their wares, usually at steeper discounts. With the sale hidden behind a wall, it’s more discreet, so it’s not as easy to find in an online search and doesn’t hurt their brand name.
There are some ground rules. Once something is in your shopping cart, you have about 15 minutes to check out before the item is returned to the virtual floor. It sometimes takes a few weeks before the product is shipped, so you will have to be patient. And be sure to read the fine print carefully – not all sites allow returns.
To join, a friend can refer you, earning your friend a discount on a future purchase. You can also sign up directly on the site and be added to its wait list; an invitation usually follows in a day or so, if not within minutes.
Click ‘n’ Shop:
Sites for moms and expecting moms
The Mini Social – theminisocial.com
Totsy – totsy.com
Zulily – zulily.com
Sites for women, men and children
Ideeli – ideeli.com
Gilt Groupe – gilt.com
HauteLook – hautelook.com
Editor’s Closet – editorscloset.com
Rue La La (no children) – ruelala.com
Site for home furnishings
One Kings Lane – onekingslane.com
Sites for beauty products
The Skinny – shopttheskinny.com
Market for Drama –marketfordrama.com