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Lilly Pulitzer enhances biannual promotion with Instagram Stories-only flash sales

Lilly Pulitzer is hopping on the bandwagon of retailers offering Instagram-exclusive merchandise to followers by hosting several flash sales on the photo-sharing application’s new Stories feature, enabling fans to purchase promotional items by entering a URL into their mobile browsers.

The resort wear brand is treating fans of its biannual After Party Sale, which began yesterday and runs through today, with several flash sales on Instagram Stories, giving consumers added incentive to follow its account for a chance to snag exclusive merchandise. Instagram followers can check Lilly Pulitzer’s Instagram Stories at 3 PM and 7 PM EST for the unique URL link, which leads users to the mystery item’s product page on the brand’s mobile site.

“Since Lilly Pulitzer doesn’t have many sales, many customers may jump at the chance to see what deals they can find on the Instagram Stories flash sales,” said David Naumann, vice president of marketing at Boston Retail Partners. “While the Instagram Stories feature is just hot off the press, it represents another media vehicle for retailers to engage with their customers.

“Lilly Pulitzer’s flash sale creates a novel way for consumers to experiment with this new Instagram feature and get special deals – right from their mobile phone.”

Bringing the party to Instagram
In a departure from its previous Facebook flash sales that occurred during the biannual After Party Sale – which takes place in January and August – Lilly Pulitzer is bringing the focus to Instagram this year, suggesting that more social media users are spending the majority of their browsing time within the photo-sharing app.

After Party Sale shoppers wanting to get their hands on discounted merchandise not found elsewhere can keep an eye out for new Instagram Stories from Lilly Pulitzer. Yesterday, the retailer posted flash sales at 3 PM and 7 PM EST, with today’s sales planned for noon, 3 PM and 7 PM.

Lilly Pulitzer alerted Instagram followers to the new promotional feature over the weekend in a post that invited fans to check its Instagram Stories at the given times for a URL link leading to an extra wild deal.

Yesterday, which marked the first day of this summer’s After Party Sale, the brand informed consumers that although the noon flash sale would not take place, shoppers should be prepared for the 3 PM promotion.

Promptly at 3 PM EST, Lilly Pulitzer uploaded a new Instagram Story bearing the notice, “Flash Sale Time!” alongside instructions to type the URL displayed below into a mobile browser.

The sheer volume of individuals shopping this particular sale required many consumers to wait in a virtual line before being allowed onto Lilly Pulitzer’s site. Once users’ wait times were up, the site brought them to the mystery product’s page, where they could select the desired quantity and pay for their purchase.

Yesterday’s 3 PM flash sale item was a printed wrap dress, retailing for $39 instead of the original price of $88.

Lilly Pulitzer is also cross-promoting the Instagram Stories flash sales on its Twitter account.

Social-exclusive merchandise
Lilly Pulitzer is not the only retailer to leverage the novelty of rolling out merchandise available exclusively for social media followers.

J. Crew recently enabled its Instagram followers to be the first to purchase a new pair of sunglasses available in limited quantity by clicking the link in its bio, resulting in all merchandise being sold out within several hours (see story).

Additionally, Warby Parker heightened the Snapchat monetization stakes by rolling out exclusive merchandise for its followers on the photo-sharing application, suggesting that the cachet of products only available via social media could result in more mobile purchases from younger consumers (see story).

Lilly Pulitzer will likely see the products featured in its flash sales sell out within several hours, due in part to consumers feeling a sense of urgency to purchase the items immediately or risk losing out on the sale merchandise until next January.

“The limited availability (24 hours) of Instagram Stories is an ideal platform for flash sales that also have a short life,” Mr. Naumann said. “As an Instagram follower of a brand, consumers will have exclusive visibility to special sales.

“When consumers feel they are getting something special or exclusive, they will likely be more compelled to take advantage of the deal and will feel more connected to the brand.”