Making Retail Fun Again Part I

Making Retail Fun Again Part I

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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.

The address speaks to the changing trends in retail, with a focus on the savvy, deal-centric and socially driven consumer. Gilt Groupe has pioneered luxury-driven social “flash sales” whereby virtual shopping not only retains the “fun of the hunt” of real world shopping, but it makes it arguably even more fun and social than what was ever possible before!

Wilson is tailoring her discussion to the secrets behind building fun and engagement into the virtual retail experience.

Gilt Groupe launched in November 2007 with the concept of taking the phenomena of NYC sample sale to a virtual space. Designer fashions would be sold for up to 70% off retail. Several million customers are now using it.

Instead of creating a site that was about driving traffic—Wilkins says, we created an experience. “People thought we were crazy,” she admits about inviting customers to the site instead of letting just anyone join. “But that was part of the game.” Invites made them feel special, the same way in the real world one might get invited to a Louis Vuitton show. The first sale, she says, had thousands of shoppers. Those early engaged shoppers are still some of the most important in getting the word out.

Existing customers actually marketed for them. If they invite a friend, the first time one signs up and buys something, they would get a $25 discount. Referral credits could lead to racking up thousands of dollars.

People like knowing about the next cool thing first. Some top shoppers didn’t invite anyone.They would admit later that they didn’t want to compete with other good shoppers!

Both Social influencers with thousands of followers who get referral credits and spread the word as well as power customers, who spend thousands of dollars but who don’t want to compete and tell people are important.

 

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