The Rise and Rise of Gilt Groupe

Gilt Groupe: The Magic of Flash Sales

Gilt Groupe has changed the way people shop. The success of the site has inspired many to create similar options with minor variations but Gilt Groupe was the first to bring the excitement of bargain hunting to the luxury arena. It brought a revolution to the world of online retail and completely changed the rules of the game. 12.01 hour Eastern Time has become the magic hour when thousands of people, mostly women, in offices (and cars and cafés and at their kitchen tables) across the country sign in to The following 60 seconds sees incredible action from members for a selection of discounted designer merchandise. Some are successful in acquiring what they wanted during the flash sale and most of them log out disappointed but it has become an addiction as they log in again the next day.

By invitation Only–How We Built Gilt And Changed The Way Millions Shop

It is the title of the inspirational business tome released this month by Alexandra Wilkis Wilson and Alexis Maybank, co-founders of Gilt Groupe. The charismatic blondes known around the office as “the As,” have detailed the sudden rise of fast sale shopping and the secret of their success. They had both joined the Harvard Business School in 2002 but had embarked on different career paths after graduating in 2004. Alexis was the first to join up with Kevin Ryan of AlleyCorp to create FirstLook which was basically a sample sale centered startup. Mike Bryzek and Phong Nguyen were also part of the initial team that worked hard on every aspect of the venture, right from the streamlined website design to the packaging the customer would receive. Alexandra was the last to join the team but brought in the vital experience of retail and the Gilt Groupe was born.


The Billion Dollar Empire

The venture that started with five founders in a sublet office has grown rapidly into one of the most successful ventures of the decade with 900 employees and a sleek loft on lower Park Avenue, as well as a market value of more than $1 billion. It is next to Amazon in terms of value in the field of e-commerce. It has already diversified into different verticals like Gilt Kids, Gilt Home, Park & Bond (for men), the travel site Jetsetter, Gilt Taste for gourmet foods and Gilt City. It has more than 5 million members, ships more than 10,000 packages a day. There has been meticulous planning and implementation involved in the growth and success of the flash sale site and it should not come as surprise to those who have blindly tried to replicate the business model that Gilt is expected to break even by the end of the year. After that truly sky is the limit.

Dressing Up to go Public

Susan Lyne, the elegant 61-year-old blonde came to Gilt in 2008 with unimpeachable experience. She is credited as one of the ABC executives who helped give birth to Desperate Housewives. Martha Stewart also chose her to run her design empire when she had to go to the prison for insider trading. At Gilt she has been preparing the e-commerce company towards an initial public offering. Many experts on the Wall Street believe that it will be the most hotly anticipated IPO next year. Lyne believes that the level of engagement that Gilt enjoys with its customers gives it the strength to go anywhere and to any height.

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