Exclusive: Q&A with Gilt GroupeFlash sales site Gilt Groupe expects to turn over $US400 million revenue this year. The etail star speaks to Power Retail about its mobile commerce strategy.
August 31, 2011
by Neha Kale
In an industry crowded with imitators, members-only fashion e-tailer Gilt Groupe is the genuine article. The flash sales site may take its name from false gold, but there is nothing manufactured about its growth path, which has seen it take on the ailing luxury retail market with its much-copied limited time shopping model. The figures don’t lie – Gilt Groupe is currently valued at $US1 billion, counts 3.5 million members worldwide and expects to turn over revenue in the vicinity of $US400 million this year. The company’s midday sales attract 100,000 to 150,000 visitors each day, who line up for deep discounts on labels such as Helmut Lang and Christian Louboutin.
Gilt Groupe’s ability to stay ahead of the curve extends to mobile commerce. Gilt’s flash sales business model is ideally suited to the on-the-go, time poor shopper, strengthening the imperative for a seamless m-commerce strategy built around the customer experience. An early adopter of the mobile channel, Gilt Groupe has embraced this by rolling out a series of innovative apps for the iPhone, iPad and Android. Christopher Gonzales, Director of Mobile Product Management at Gilt Groupe speaks to Power Retail about the part mobile has played in the retailer’s success story.
What role has mobile commerce played in driving growth at the Gilt Groupe?
Mobile is playing a large role in driving Gilt’s business – both as a channel to better serve our existing customers as well as to acquire new ones. We have been seeing mobile’s contribution to Gilt’s overall revenue increase steadily to date and currently attribute approximately 16% of weekday revenue and 29% of weekend revenue to purchases made on mobile devices. Nearly 2 million people have downloaded Gilt apps across the iPhone, iPad and Android. We have also observed that customers who access Gilt on mobile devices tend to spend more.
On iPad specifically, the average value of purchases is approximately 30% higher in comparison to Gilt’s other channels. It is interesting to highlight, as well, that one of the most expensive items ever purchased on Gilt, a vintage Rolex watch for $24,000, was bought on an iPad.
What factors did Gilt Groupe consider when developing its mobile strategy?
Gilt wants to serve our customers wherever they are – be it on their desktop at work, on their mobile phone while in transit or on their tablets when relaxing on the couch. Although accessibility is central to the mobile channel, our strategy is optimised for phone versus tablet, and the specific ways in which customers use each.
Our iPhone app, Android app and mobile website are designed to satisfy our customer’s need for immediacy and tailored to a speedy shopping experience. These apps are intuitive, facilitate quick exploration and discovery and help lead customers to fast and easy checkout. In turn, our iPad app is more conducive to increased exploration, and addresses the fact that browsing a tablet is a more leisurely activity and that customers spend more time on these devices. To this end, the iPad app also highlights Gilt’s beautiful imagery, makes interesting use of gestures and animations, and encourages customers to browse our product catalogue while still making shopping expedient.
As mobile is an emerging channel, we view it as an area to be innovative and experiment with new ways for users to shop. We are always looking ahead.
What global trends in mobile commerce have most influenced Gilt Groupe and how are these shaping its mobile presence?
While we closely follow industry trends, Gilt allows its business model and customer needs to drive mobile strategy. Furthermore, improvements in platforms are a key factor in the features, upgrades and launches we pursue. New technologies that improve performance and afford new ways to shop are key to continued mobile growth.
How has the mobile channel helped the Gilt Groupe engage its customers?
Mobile is a natural way for Gilt Groupe to engage with its customers. Our sales begin at specific times and run for a limited period, creating a sense of urgency. When our sales commence, users may not be able to access their desktop computer to shop, but our mobile apps and mobile website offers them easy access to us wherever they are. In turn, mobile has created a new customer touchpoint for Gilt. A simple and effective example of this is the notification that we send to customers using our iPhone, Android and iPad apps whenever a new sale starts. Customers love the reminder and will immediately open their app to shop.
We are also experimenting with technology common to mobile devices that can provide new ways for customers to explore and shop. The Gilt Colour feature in our iPhone app gives a customer the ability to focus the phone’s built-in camera on a color for products of a similar colour to be returned. It’s a feature that our customers find fun and inspiring while also having a practical component of matching items to one another such as a belt to a shoe.
For more insights and best practice advice on m-commerce, download the Power Retail Special Report, M-Commerce 2.0: Retailing On The Move