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Catching the Flashy Ladies

Woman with curly hair
Smith Collection | Stone | Getty Images
Woman with curly hair

“A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips” — or so the saying goes about food impulses. But what about shopping impulses? Paul Hurley, CEO of one of the largest and most popular online “flash” sites, ideeli.com, says those urges can lead to a lifetime of profits.

“Because of the great recession, women – primarily women – flocked by the millions to ideeli,” he told me on the set of “Worldwide Exchange.” “We think that this is the beginning of a big, big wave of consumers who demand more than just a great value.”

The site — along with its competitors Gilt Groupe, Hautelook, and Ruelala — features limited time “flash” sales, thereby offering customers more than just a retail experience. According to Hurley, it’s also about the thrill of the chase.

“She wants entertainment,” he said of the typical flash site shopper.

“She wants to be able to talk to her friends about this new dress and say and see what they think, and she wants help to try to figure out what's going to be on trend.”

In terms of retail trends, we know that the low end shopper is still struggling while the high-end shopper seems to have come back or never really went a way. It's gonna be the ones in the middle that will act as the all-important "swing" shoppers — the ones consumer sites like these capture.

So, it may happen in a flash, but this new generation of retail experience — within a $300 billion U.S. apparel market – can and will tell us a lot more about the highly-coveted aspirational shopper.

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  • Jeff Cox is finance editor for CNBC.com.

  • Lawrence Develingne

    Lawrence Delevingne is the ‘Big Money’ enterprise reporter for CNBC.com and NetNet.

  • Stephanie Landsman is one of the producers of "Fast Money."

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