EO/NAWBO Gilt Event

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Members of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) attended a luncheon yesterday at the London Hotel in West Hollywood. Guest speaker Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, co-founder of Gilt Groupe (or just Gilt), spoke to both organizations about how her, and her best friend Alexis Maybank, built their innovative company. Alexandra had many years of experience behind the scenes in the retail world. Wilson managed retail operations at BVLGARI, managed leather goods sales planning for Louis Vuitton and even dabbled in investment banking with Merrill Lynch early in her career. Years later, Alexandra and Alexis have changed the online shopping experience for many people.

Gilt Groupe is an online, invitation only, shopping site where members are able to shop top labels at a discounted price. However, Gilt did not grow over night, but has flourished into a wildly successful company. Most recently Alexandra and Alexis wrote a book (By Invitation Only) in which they discuss how they built this remarkably innovative website. These 10 tips provide great advice for small start-up entrepreneurs. Alexandra and Alexis went from packaging boxes themselves to having a warehouse equipped with robots to package. Needless to say they have learned a lot on the way, but hopefully this is just the beginning for Gilt Groupe!

  1. The most successful and innovative ideas come from what you want in your life—or in this case what you want to buy.
  2. Personalization– This is extremely important to Gilt. When each customer logs onto the website, the site is customized according to their previous purchases.
  3. Apps are VERY important:

i.         Design for each device (iPhone, iPad, Droid, etc.)

ii.         Optimize for weekends and downtime (When customers have more time to shop – Black Friday)

iii.         Speed, stability, and scalability matter (Gilt uses lots of pictures which can slow down the site, the pictures also have to be tailored to the different devices)

  1. Managing social media closely shows customers that you value customer service: Gilt has 2 employees managing their social media at all times. This helps with Q & A from customers and also keeps the company connected to their market.
  2. Contests are a great way to draw in more consumers: Gilt uses “wow sales”. Some of these sales include auctioning a Volkswagen Jetta for $5,995, which sold in 0.25 seconds (the company’s fastest sale)… WOW!
  3. Requiring membership to the website allows high-end designers to feel secure that their brands are not being cheapened by online sales. The time limit of the auctions also provides comfort to many luxury labels.
  4. Know and like your investors. Also, understand that there is no immediate payback; growth takes time.
  5. Find a way to go to the customer, while at the same time giving them a reason to come to you— make your company convenient for customers.
  6. Adding content to your site allows customers to spend more time on the website, although it is not always needed. Gilt finally found a need for content when they created Gilt Taste. This provides customers with reviews of different food and wine, as well as recipes.

10. Gilt gives their customers something they can access anywhere, anytime, at a great price.

After Alexandra spoke EO and NAWBO members were able to buy copies of her book and have it signed.  Thank you to both organizations for a fun and information-filled afternoon!

Request an invitation at: http://www.gilt.com





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