Once a consumer becomes a Gilt member, usually through a friend's referral, they have access to sales events. The limited nature and duration of the sales sparks a frenzy, with shoppers anxious to snag an item before it sells out. The site began with fashion, but has now expanded to home décor, children's wear and luxury travel.
The site's sweet spot is 20- to 30-year-old women, a demographic that is particularly attractive to fashion brands, though men and consumers up to age 45 are also frequent shoppers. Gilt has primarily grown through word-of-mouth, with a $25 credit offered to members who bring in a friend that ends up making a purchase.
|Alexis Maybank, co-founder, Gilt Groupe|
Just shy of its second anniversary, Gilt counts 1.5 million members in the U.S., as well as 250,000 members in Japan. The retailer is on track to tally $400 million in sales for fiscal 2010. (Its fiscal year begins July 1.)
It's also one of the few places that is hiring, adding about 100 new employees this summer alone. One of its most high-profile hires has been CEO Susan Lyne, former president-CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, who joined last fall. Ms. Maybank says that Ms. Lyne's proven leadership record and industry contacts is key for the young company.