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Gilt Group from Humble Beginnings

During the Hey Day of Flash sale sites, When was making its mark in the US, and being replicated by Catch Of The day, and similarly Groupon making its mark in the US  and being emulated by Scoopon in Australia, The Gilt Groupe was founded by Kevin Ryan and Dwight Merriman when they saw how succesful the French company Vente- Privee had become offering ridiculously low priced items in time limited flash sales.


How did Gilt start, and has it changes since inception

Kevin Ryan and Dwight Merriman launched Gilt Groupe in 2007. Ryan got the idea for the company from Vente-Privee, a successful online fashion retailer in France. He recruited tech and fashion veterans Mike Bryzek, Phong Nguyen, Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson to the founding team. At launch, Gilt conducted “flash sales,” selling a limited number of luxury designer items at steep discounts for fleeting periods of time. It became an immediate hit.The site nearly crashed when Gilt held its first sale for Christian Louboutin shoes, marked down 50%, because tens of thousands of hopeful shoppers flooded the site at the same time. This “flash-sale” model became popular among e-commerce companies, and Gilt Groupe became the industry leader in the fashion segment. The model has evolved a bit but in nature is still Flash: designer brands up to 60% in four key categories: women and men’s fashion apparel, kids, and home.

Has Facebook Shopping been much of a success?
Gilt is leveraging Facebook successfully in two fronts. First, to acquire new members. We score each one of our members based on their lifetime value, and subsequently pass that information onto Facebook. Utilizing Facebook’s targeting tools, we build “look alike” models and therefore aim at exposing Gilt’s brand to Facebook users who, while resembling our best customers (by being in the same circle of friends of ur best customers, liking the same type of content our best customers, do, etc), are not part of Gilt yet. Second, leveraging the same targeting tools (those tools are called “Facebook Custom Audiences”), we reach out to current members who might have disengaged with other forms of communications (email, print, mobile), thus delivering relevant content and promotions. Gilt has indeed been successful in utilizing Facebook to recruit new customers and engage with existing customers.

What are your most popular categories?
Women’s apparel, followed by men’s apparel, Home products (from kitchen appliances to home furniture), and kids’ apparel.

What rumblings are there for the future and what challenges do you perceive?
Competition is intense in the US, with a number of retailers discounting their products more heavily. Also, the market these days is a bit more saturated with the brands that Gilt carries; therefore, continue to focus on offering great value (value beyond pricing, including better shipping and returns policies) and breaking new brands are challenges that whole flash industry will continue have to master in order to be successful.

To find out more about Gilt’s story follow this link :-> Gilt – Our Story 

To hear more about Gilt, hear Welington Fonseca, Head of Marketing and Analytics at the Online Retailer Expo and Conference 21 -23 July – Sydney


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