Making Retail Fun Again Part II

Making Retail Fun Again Part II


This morning’s keynote address is being given by Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, co-founder of the Gilt Groupe. She is interviewed by Divya Gugnani, Founder of Send the Trend, on the stage of Safra Hall.

Gugnani asks, How engaging is the shopping experience (on Gilt)?

Wilson replies that it is actually the fact that it is more difficult to shop in some ways than real world shopping – you have to become a member, you have to check the site at 12PM Eastern Standard as if by appointment, and merchandise sells out quickly. It motivates the customer base to shop regularly. If you see a brand you want, you better get in there. You have no idea if they are going to have things you want and love and how much they are going to be. It’s a game that way.

“How do you shop?” Gugnani asks Wilson. She points out that some people will log on to Gilt and the smart shoppers will zip to the bottom of the page to get those deals first. That is one strategy. 90% will start at the top (great tip!)

Wilson suggests using the wait list. If something is sold out it might become available again. She also loves the idea of “hording”– Putting as many things in your cart as possible and then letting go of things if something else comes up that you like. When Gilt Groupe began, customers could put ten things in their shopping cart. But people didn’t like it because other shoppers couldn’t get those items until they were thrown back. Now Gilt lets members know certain items are in a cart and not sold. Wilson reminds, “Remember to hit refresh!”

“We learned early on,” she says, that with stores like Filene’s Basement and T.J. Maxx, people were more secretive about buying things there. They thought Gilt would be a habit but wouldn’t necessarily be talked about, but amazingly, it was. People would announce purchases as “Gilt” even over the designer label. It was treated as a game and a competition. That was never a part of the initial plan.

Many Gilt shoppers are shopping from work. It is the middle of the day. They have to make decisions quickly. It’s good for people who are competitive. The sense of urgency works in Gilt’s favor. It’s simple and user friendly. It adds to the excitement of having to have something.

Returns are also easy and seamless. It’s nice that people trust their buyer’s taste as well.

Wilson finally suggests giving customers a reason to keep coming back for more. Her customers shop daily. Give your customers a reason to come back. Make it so they have to check in. The drug of it. The feeling of “I won! I beat out other shoppers. I’m getting a great price and I got something that no one else was able to get.”


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