Thursday, July 23, 2009

Behind the E-curtain at

Yes!, more from Nancy Brenner:

I'm a die-hard in-person sample sale shopper, but was super curious about the inner workings of one of the most popular online sample sale sites - I am also one of their 1.2 million members.

Tonight I learned shopping secrets from's Alexandra Wilkis Wilson at a Gilt fest at the Tribeca Y: "Put as much in the cart as you can" akin to a real life sample sale where you need to grab as much merchandise as possible and decide later. And "Refresh, refresh, refresh." Any serious sample saler already knew that. C'mon Wilson, what's the online equivalent of a "Friends and Family" sale?

What's the most expensive item that didn't sell? A $23,000 diamond bracelet. Ca Ching.

What doesn't say "sold out" within minutes, but sells "incredibly well?" Fine jewelry, which can cost thousands of dollars. I was surprised since I was wondering who would spend thousands of dollars to purchase a piece of jewelry , without seeing how earrings frame your face or exactly how a necklace falls across your skin - plus the added pressure of final sale. Because of the expense and final sale policy, Wilson did note that shoppers do their research and take the time to share it with significant others, parents, friends, etc. before buying.

What's next for Gilt? What's not next for Gilt? In the Fall, expect the launch of a travel site that will sell cool niche summer rentals and ski chalets. For fashionistas without sugar daddies to foot the bills, or a C-suite position and paycheck to match (my observation), there will be Gilt Fuse which will be "our own version of Barney's Co-Op." Colleges and big-tent schools can expect big time attention from Gilt since Wilson describes them as target customers. Also Gilt has been selling "nothing too big, nothing too heavy, nothing breakable" home items once a week. This will increase to daily. But crystal and china shoppers need not despair, Gilt will soon be selling those too.

Why don't you see certain brands on Gilt? "We are like an airport in a weird way." We only have a certain number of slots and can't sell every brand they want to sell. It could be the collection isn't deep enough, or the price negotiations didn't work out, says Wilson.

Gilt fun facts: Zac Posen was the first "get," and one of the first 10 brands to sell was her eye doctor's sister who married Judith Ripka's son. Super-fast sellouts - Laura Mercier (I failed to sign in right away and was locked out of this one myself) and Louboutin.

Gilt can decide to cap membership if they want to at a certain point. Or, they can select to sell their merchandise in a number of different ways, if they chose to - they can sell specific brands to targeted customers, sell only to certain parts of the country, or decide to only target 5,000 or 20,000 if a designer doesn't want wide exposure.

Worldwide domination?
In March, they launched in Japan with a localized team and approach and have 200,000 members - so far.

Will they have enough merchandise as manufacturers cut back, go into bankruptcy or disappear? Will shoppers still open their wallets no matter how high unemployment numbers climb? Can frugalistas resist a bargain?

We are all...Guilty!


David said...

Will be interesting to see how a site like expands. I was just in London and saw huge lines for the fitting rooms at The Top Shop, a higher-end version of H & M. I have heard The Top Shop will also be opening in NYC. It will be interesting to see where, and how, people shop in the months ahead.

Guerilla Shopper said...

TopShop IS open in NYC - on Broadway and Broome.