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I joined Gilt as soon as I heard about it. It was early in the flash sales game, and offered a lot of high-end brands, which was attractive.

Admittedly, I mostly do not read their emails anymore. My dollars to be spent online go further at some of their competitors. However, I received this email recently and had to share, because it is such a nice way to invite me to come back and start shopping with them again.

The image of this email is quite big for the best viewing experience. See you at the bottom!

Lovely, right? Let’s break it down.


  • Throwback to the Tarina Tarantino ring! I still have it.
  • Recognition of my apparently early joiner status
  • Coupon code


  • Coupon code is limited, which irritates me for a private offer. This is a personalized email, and I assume it is created as a template and is launched out to customers at certain intervals. Why limit the discount to $50? I would prefer that the discount be placed on a single item and given no limit than randomly limited to “you can only have 20% off if you are spending $250 or less.”
  • After telling me about the great brands I have “missed” – why not name a few? This email is supposed to make me want to come back for more.
  • I’d love to see something about hot deals you missed. A while back, I saw Prada shoes on another flash site, marked down to $69. I almost wept on the spot when they weren’t in my size, and I have told other people to sign up for this other site, citing this insane deal. The nature of this email is such that I think touting the greatness of the site can show real value and create excitement for the customer.

Overall, great idea – and I’m interested in the clickthrough rate and purchase rate with that coupon code. As with anything, I do think it could be improved, but the basic premise is a great move from the Gilt team.


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Gilt | Brand Experience Project

by Jamie Sanford on March 14, 2013

Click here for all posts in the Brand Experience Project.

As best as I can remember, Gilt was really the first prominent flash sale site out of the gate. I’ve been a member for years but hadn’t purchased anything in a long time. I saw that Mario Badescu, one of my favorite skin care brands, showed up.

Shopper Experience

Gilt is another site that always has beautiful visuals. I’m assuming these are a combination of images from the manufacturers and their own images – but either way, the homepage always looks beautiful.

I navigated to the Mario Badescu event. This is obviously cropped, there were probably 40 items available. You can see that product images on white are used here, with short information about each item. I had some trouble finding the full item page, it took more clicking than I felt necessary.

Here’s a better view of my issue. I scrolled over the image, thinking I would get to the product page, but was presented with the “add to cart” button. I had to click above that faint grey line to reach the product page. It was mildly frustrating to have to figure that out. Adding a “more info” button next to the “add to cart” button would be a good addition here.

Finally the product page! It’s quite helpful and informative. Information about the product function, an option to share the item via social media channels to earn Gilt credits, and an “extended delivery timeline.” I’m assuming this is the safe way of giving the worst-case scenario?


The pop-up cart (shown after adding an item) does sort of clarify the delivery information. I’m guessing that this item in particular has an extended delivery period so we are being informed of that. Good on Gilt for being very clear about it. I know I am not the only spoiled Amazon shopper, used to receiving items in just a few days.

The checkout page is pretty clean and streamlined. Everything is clear and simple enough – but I do have one problem with the shipping information. The “standard” option is chosen automatically, and you have to actually choose “economy” to load the page again with the price adjusted to $5.95 and the window slightly extended with a later delivery date. Why not show the pricing right next to the names?

I was hoping that the question mark next to “shipping” would help.

Unfortunately, the price information is not available here on the pop-up. I was let down when I clicked on the shipping policy link.

This page opened in the same tab on which I was checking out, which is incredibly disappointing. As noted in previous Brand Experience posts, I do not recommend actively letting customers leave the checkout page. Other than “continue shopping,” which I give a pass for since its a clear indication from the customer that they want to perhaps add more items to their cart, every link on the checkout page should be a pop-up box with the information, or should open in a new window – not a tab. I would ultimately prefer a pop-up window so that the user still can see their checkout page open behind the new window, if an entire new window is unavoidable. (Obviously, considerations have to be made for pop-up blockers, etc.)

Let’s continue with order confirmations.

This is a screenshot of the PDF confirmation I was offered. Basic and straightforward with estimated delivery time, a look at my order, a reminder of my savings, etc. Completely fine for me.

Here is the email confirmation I received for my order. A detailed look at my order, very clear information about customer service options, and of course, information on other things I might also like to purchase.


Nothing special about the box. Not branded in any way. Unlike the last box I saw from Neiman Marcus, this one did not have writing all over it, just the basic stickers from UPS.

An interesting take on putting the packing list in a small box. This one was curved around the items within. Again, much better handling than the one from last week.

A bit curled, but not a big problem for me. I’m impressed that it stayed mostly intact having been placed in the box this way.

Pardon the grainy photo, but I liked the very prominent and helpful information on returns and customer service printed in the center of the packing list.

No padding or anything of my items. They are plastic jars, and would be incredibly hard to break.

And this was it for wrapping the items. You can see in the bottom of the frame that there were some air packets under them, but nothing wrapped around them other than the zip bag, which I think is a great idea, especially for potentially leaky beauty items.

Here is Gilt’s report card. Once again, I find the aesthetic feel of the website completely incongruous with the experience of receiving my items at home. The site is really beautiful but the box and the contents were boring and standard. Yes, my items arrived unharmed, which is great, but again, I want websites to give me lots of reasons to come back. I know I am not the only person who still gets a thrill in getting a package, even something I ordered for myself.

Great web design and beautiful products are just a piece of the experience. Why spend thousands of dollars on making only 65% of a customer’s interaction with your company enjoyable? Every chance you have to delight a customer is a chance to gain favor with them, which will turn into more business.

I would love to hear thoughts on this. In the instance of a website designed to offer reduced pricing, do you also have lower expectations of order packaging?


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I have not been shy about saying how much I love shopping the deal-a-day websites (possibly a misnomer since most of the sales on product last for 2-3 days), especially on my other blog, The Daily Wishlist. I think they are great ways to shop for yourself and even better for shopping for the holidays, etc.  However, I am finding it really interesting that Gilt has identified a way to take the exclusivity of “members only” deals (which seem to generally be on items that are coming to the end of their season) to a new level.

If you’re familiar with the Target designer collaborations, you might also know that some of them have been massively popular and have sold out quickly.  I even wrote about it in January 2009. For example, jewelry designer Temple St. Clair has a new line with Target, and some of the pieces were sold out almost immediately once they were available online.  I was lucky enough to buy a Rafe for Target bag a few years ago that I saw later on eBay, selling for 3 times the purchase price.  Target is bringing high-end design to the customer who loves great style but doesn’t want to pay $1000 for a bag.  Collaborations on home decor have also been successful.

So, how brilliant was it for Target to team up with Gilt to offer exclusive first access to a number of new collaborations for the fall? I got this email from Target…

…and this email from Gilt:

Gilt Target
So your everyday Target shopper is encouraged to join Gilt, a site that offers savings on fabulous things (definitely a pull for the Target customer) and on the other hand, Gilt is offering exclusive access to an affordable option from a high-end designer, which totally matches their brand.  Excitement builds because of the precedent set by other Target offers in the past, and Gilt is excited because they just garnered however many new members to send emails to every day about shopping on their site.

I did shop this sale by the way. I scored a Mulberry bag (still in the box, I might sell it on eBay since I’m already seeing them there) but was unable to secure the John Derian tray that I wanted, it was already gone.  Within minutes – the site was totally overwhelmed by everyone trying to shop that sale.

I have to wonder if this new sale was as successful?

Venus Williams Gilt
Another completely new line being released by Gilt first.  While Venus doesn’t have the same track record as the Target designer collaborations, it’s all about brand introduction.  All of the Gilt shoppers will be exposed to her brand, and very well might pursue the brand outside of the realm of Gilt, and that would be a success as well.

Ultimately, for brands, I see the deal-a-day sites as a great way to expand the presence of your brand, of your product. Every company that sells product will have something to get off of their hands, and why not sell through a site with a built-in audience of engaged shoppers?

Who else has ideas for ways to utilize the deal-a-day websites for other uses than the obvious one?

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Shopping for Holiday Gifts? 5 Tips To Get Moving!

by Jamie Sanford on August 13, 2010

I asked a group of my colleagues the other night if they had started their holiday shopping and they were shocked that I had suggested it. I had a similar encounter on Twitter where I talked about having started my holiday shopping already and getting messages back saying things such as “WHAT?”  I knew immediately that I needed to offer my tips on fulfilling your holiday shopping list to my readers.

The Tree at Rockefeller Center.

This famous tree will be up in no time!

Why is everyone so surprised by this? There’s no reason why holiday gifts need to be purchased around the holidays, unless you’re shopping for someone who must have the absolute latest gadget—some tech toy purchased in July may conceivably be outdated by December, sure. But most other gifts have staying power. In addition, I don’t know anyone who actually enjoys going to a store after Thanksgiving.

So, I’ve purchased 3 or 4 holiday gifts so far, smallish things but I’m working through my list. It’s not as if the major holidays won’t come around this year, so why not start gift shopping now?

Here are my top 5 tips for getting into early holiday gift shopping. (Note that these ideas can also apply to your year-round gift shopping, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.)

1.  Keep notes! Your friends and family probably drop subtle and not-so-subtle hints all the time about things they like and are interested in. If you think someone is consistently hard to shop for, remember this tip and it will be much easier in the future. My husband saves emails that I send him about things I like and revisits them later when it is gift time.

2.  Expose yourself to opportunities for saving money! I have been having a ball checking out the daily sales from the following websites. The first 5 are mostly focused on product purchases, but Groupon has daily deals on things to do or see in your area – and most of the experiences you can buy can be redeemed within long period of time, completely making this viable for holiday gift shopping.

Gilt Groupe
Beyond The Rack
Swirl by Daily Candy

Leave a comment below if there are other sites in this category that readers should check out.

3.  Set a budget. This process is much faster in general if you have a hard number in mind as a budget for each gift you are going to give. It makes snap decisions very easy, especially when using the deal-a-day websites. If it is above your budget, let it go. If it is below your budget, great – this can work especially well if you get a really hot deal on something. Keep in mind that smart shopping means that a small budget can go a long way!

4.  Go “shopping” in a real store, or at the mall. As much as I love the Internet, you can’t see everything online. There is a lot to be said for window-shopping, and it can really help to jog your memory—passing a display of perfume can remind you that your mother-in-law mentioned liking/wanting it. I highly recommend doing this memory-sparking shopping early in the week, at night. This is the time I find the mall to be the quietest. Feel free to take notes (or photos with your cell phone if you prefer), and order the items online when you get home. You might be able to find a much better price online, but the experience will help you nonetheless.

5.  Have fun! I know I’m not the only one who really gets a kick out of giving gifts that really makes the other person happy. I’ve been told that I’m great at finding holiday gifts (hence this blog), but for the most part, anyone can do it if you put some thought into it.  It really does bring a great feeling and it is worth the effort—there really is no need to default to buying holiday gift cards!

Here’s a great 30-second clip from 30 Rock, where Jack discusses the beauty of gift-giving. It pretty much sums it all up. The clip is gone now and I can’t find it anywhere. The best quote from Jack Donaghy is this:

“Gift giving is the purest expression of friendship. I’m going to think about what I know and like about you and that will lead me to the perfect gift, and you do the same.”

Please post your early shopping tips in the comments!

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