Who can resist the twin temptation of a great deal with less than 24 hours to buy? That's the formula behind the success of such sites as Fab.com and Zulily.com — known as flash-sale sites that as an industry, now pocket around $2 billion in sales a year.
But the after-sale experience can be disappointing, according to a study conducted by fulfillment-service firm Dotcom Distribution. The company analyzed more than 2,776 conversations on the top 11 flash-sale sites’ Facebook pages and found 44 percent of the comments were complaints, 29 percent were compliments and 27 percent were neutral. One Kings Lane and Zulily were the only two Facebook pages that had more compliments than complaints.
Hell hath no fury
Women made up more than half of the commenters, and as enthusiastic as they were about flash sales, they were mostly unhappy with what happened after they made a purchase. In fact, nearly half of the complaints had to do with shipping.
"Fourteen days my shoes have been making their way across the United States," a commenter wrote on Facebook. "I pay $8 for them to see Mount Rushmore on their way from Nevada to Florida."
None of the 11 sites surveyed was immune from customers' wrath. Zulily, Haute Look and Beyond the Rack received the most complaints about shipping — nearly 61 percent of complaints were related to long wait times and high shipping costs. However, even those at the top of the rankings — Fab, Gilt and Rue La La — had unhappy shoppers , 36 percent of whom complained about shipping.
Here's Dotcom Distribution full ranking of the 11 flash-sale sites by percentage of Facebook complaints:
1. HauteLook - 63% 2. Ideeli - 58% 2. Plndr - 58% 4. Gilt - 48% 5. Beyond the Rack - 45% 5. Foundary - 45% 7. Fab - 39% 8. One Kings Lane - 38% 8. Rue La La - 38% 10. Zulily - 35% 11. Jack Threads - 32%