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Gilt Groupe Extends Flash Sales To More Than 100 Countries

  • Written by Alicia Fiorletta
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Consumers are gravitating to flash sale sites in an effort to obtain designer goods at a highly discounted price. Due to increased demand, Gilt Groupe has implemented the FiftyOne platform to expand its Gilt.com branch to more than 90 countries, and in December 2011 will extend shipping capabilities to an additional 17 countries.

Launched in 2007, Gilt.com partners with more than 6,000 brands, such as Missoni, Vera Wang, Carolina Herrera and Zac Posen to provide consumers with up to 60% discounts on luxury items. Sales are launched at 12 p.m. EST daily, with each sale lasting approximately 36 hours. By sifting through inventory via the retailer’s e-Commerce site, iPhone, iPad or Android apps, shoppers can beat the clock by reserving or purchasing limited inventory. 

The partnership with FiftyOne was developed to extend the Gilt.com platform to shoppers worldwide. According to Crystal Caligiuri, Senior Director of Operations for Gilt Groupe, the retailer invested in expansion after receiving numerous requests for international shipping capabilities.

“Gilt Groupe always focuses on listening to customer feedback very intently,” Caligiuri said. “Since the company’s inception, we’ve received a tremendous amount of insight from international shoppers eager to shop on Gilt.com. We knew it was a great opportunity for our brand because we have a rather large international member base who hadn’t shopped yet simply because we couldn’t ship to them. There also have been examples of cross-border shoppers working around our system by shipping to friends in the U.S.”

Before expanding abroad, Gilt Groupe executives focused on creating a VIP flash sale experience across markets. “We wanted to prioritize by developing an amazing site with apparel for women, men and children, and home goods,” Caligiuri noted. “Once we developed those verticals, we determined it was the right time to address that pent-up demand.”

Next month, the retailer will release its apps for iPhone, iPad and Android, and Gilt Mobile web to its members worldwide, allowing shoppers to browse and buy across channels. During this time, merchandise from the brand’s luxury retail site for men, Park & Bond, also will be available to international shoppers.

With the expansion, Caligiuri predicts that Gilt Groupe’s limited product assortment will become more coveted and also will help the retailer better understand international shopping behaviors. “This expansion definitely will make the Gilt experience and the entire flash sale model more competitive,” she said. “But while many visitors are coming in at 12 p.m. EST and rush shopping, we’re also seeing a level amount of orders every hour of the day, around the clock. While I think cross-border shoppers really enjoy the gaming aspect of Gilt, there is another group of customers that love our products and curated assortment, and want to shop any time of day."

The FiftyOne solution is integrated directly into the Gilt.com web site, allowing international shoppers to access the same content as those in the U.S., but customize the checkout process based on currency and shipping preference, according to Kris Green, Chief Strategy Officer and EVP of Sales for FiftyOne.

“By leveraging the FiftyOne platform, Gilt Groupe is able to serve both international and domestic consumers from the same platform,” Green said. “Members worldwide have access to the same coveted brands and products, on a first-come, first-served basis. International purchasing and shipping options are served at checkout, where international members are presented with the opportunity to pay in local currencies, with all taxes, duties and shipping costs included.” International shipping fees will remain at a flat $19.95, according to Green.

Caligiuri explained that while Gilt Groupe was eager to deploy international shipping capabilities, the retailer’s primary goal was to create an engaging cross-channel experience for shoppers worldwide. “From an operations stand-point, we wanted to make sure the ‘receiving’ and the web experiences were equally amazing,” she noted. “We felt that once the site, products and delivery experience were streamlined in the U.S., the time would be right to expand internationally.”