Gilt Taste: A Pricey Online Marketplace For Artisanal FoodsMay 18, 2011
by Leena Rao
Today, flash sales giant Gilt Groupe is launching its newest vertical—Gilt Taste, a marketplace for artisanal foods. By definition, artisan foods are ingredients and foods that are hand-crafted, created in small quantities, and tend to be high-quality products. Basically, these are not the type of ingredients you’ll find at your local Safeway.
Led by former Gourmet Magazine Editor and New York Times Restaurant critic Ruth Reichl, Gilt Taste is a site that aims to give consumers access to artisanal products and ingredients, many of which have only been available to professional chefs until now. But while there is an e-commerce component of the site, there is also a significant editorial presence, with recipes, background on each ingredient, where the ingredient comes from, and more. With its design and high-quality photography, the site feels sort of like a magazine.
Products in the site range from Black Winter Truffle Juice ($112), to Murray’s Paglierina Cheese ($24.95), to Primizie Jumbo White Asparagus ($36), and Flannery Beef Private Reserve Filet Mignon ($88 for 4 steaks). There’s no doubt you are paying a premium for these foods. For example, eight 6 oz. Alaskan Salmon fillets are $120, which is more than double the price of the Alaskan Salmon fillets I buy at my local Whole Foods. These prices don’t include shipping/delivery costs, which vary by product.
All of these items and recipes are being curated by professional chefs, photographers, filmmakers and tastemakers. If you can afford those prices and place a high value on using quality artisan foods that are used by professional chefs and restaurants, then Gilt Taste is for you. The company says that it will be including weekly specials on the site, but none were posted today. And certainly the element of luxury is part of Gilt’s brand, so the prices aren’t particularly surprising.
Gilt Taste isn’t the first company to offer a marketplace for artisanal goods. Competitors include Foodzie and Foodoro. And OneKingsLane offers artisanal foods within its flash sales site as well.
So will Gilt Taste be a success as a vertical? Gilt’s other independent vertical, travel site Jetsetter, has been a hit so the company does have the experience of being able to operate and grow a separate vertical. Another compelling part of Gilt Taste is that it combines editorial with commerce (which is something Gilt is also trying to do with its Home And Furniture vertical). In the stories section, you’ll find professionally written articles about food trends, recipes and more As a cook and food-lover, I miss Gourmet Magazine and I wonder if Gilt is aiming to fill this gap.
But the prices are high, and it’s unclear if I’m getting a discount on some of these artisinal. On Jetsetter (a site which I’ve used and am a fan of), it is very clear that the price per night at hotels is marked down significantly, sometimes by as much as 60 or 70 percent. It’s not really clear on Gilt Taste if I’m getting a deal on some of these artisan products.