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Gilt Groupe firms up smartphone user strategy

July 23, 2010

Gilt's mobile shopping application for the Android platform

Gilt's mobile shopping application for the Android platform

Online retailer Gilt Groupe has launched an application on the Android platform to bolster its smartphone user strategy.

Gilt’s Android application lets fashionistas browse both current and upcoming sales, zoom in to view the fine details on any product and track sales information even when the application is not open. Gilt said that offering the ability to shop from a mobile device was a big plus for shoppers.

“Mobile is very important to Gilt because our shopping experience is so time-based,” said Shan-Lyn Ma, director of product management at Gilt, New York. “Our entire experience centers around the exact second a sale starts.

“If the user isn’t at a desktop or laptop right when the sale starts, they get very upset because they’ve missed the best products in the sale, which are gone within minutes,” she said. “The ability to offer users a mobile experience, so that customers can see best each sale has to offer, means users don’t feel like their missing out on anything.

“This is the single most important thing mobile offers us.”

Gilt showcases products from a number of high-end fashion and luxury brands, including Cartier, Bulgari and Brooks Brothers.

Gilt mobile shopping
The application is available for free at, where consumers can take a picture of a QR code with their Android phone to automatically begin downloading. It is also available on the Android Market.

The application includes a number of features that give shoppers access to fashion and luxury items on sale.

Users can browse all active Gilt sales, listed in chronological order based on their ending dates.

Users can also view upcoming sales by scrolling down the screen.

Tabs at the top of the screen let shoppers switch between different categories of sales, including all sales, men’s sales, women’s sales and children’s sales.

Users can view lists of items offered on each sale’s application page that include images and prices.

If a product is no longer available, a “Sold Out” graphic will appear over the product image.

Each individual product page includes original and sale pricing information, clickable buttons for size and color selection, where applicable, and product information.

Users can create a Gilt account and sign in to the application to place items in a shopping cart, where they can complete purchase orders.

The application also takes advantage of Android-specific technology to offer a number of new features, including:

• Pinch-and-zoom views of product images, so users can get closer looks at products and rotate between portrait and landscape views

• Start-of-sale notifications that users can place in the Android status bar

• Add favorite sales to the device’s calendar

• A Gilt sales clock widget that sits on the Android home screen and counts down the time to the start of new sales

The application can also update its sales catalogues even when the application is not opened.

The inclusion of this functionality means that there is no load time when shoppers are looking up new sales, because the information will already be there.

“The evolution of smartphone platforms has meant that we’re able to use the phone in some ways to experience the imagery and photography that we have on our site in even more of a touch-based way,” Ms. Ma said. “Whereas on the computer, the experience is mouse or keyboard driven, phones are more touch-driven, so you can get more of a sense for how a product’s material looks, zooming up close to details.

“You would not be able to experience our products as richly on the computer.”

Mobile satisfies shopper demands

Luxury retailers, despite concerns about tarnishing their brands’ reputations, are turning to mobile commerce with increasing frequency.

For example, Kenneth Cole has stated that 1.5 percent of its revenue is generated via mobile phones (see story).

And, Gilt already offers shopping applications for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad (see story), available for free in the Apple App Store.

The retailer is currently considering the extension of the shopping application to other platforms, though it has not specified which ones.

Ms. Ma said that developing applications for Apple and Android devices was Gilt’s first priority, because those are the platforms the majority of its customers use.

The company received a significant number of requests for an Android application in particular, which factored into the decision to develop one.

In addition, Gilt also wanted to make a splash on Android relatively early in the platform’s life cycle.

“Android is the fastest growing platform, so we wanted to make sure we were on earlier rather than later, and in front of competitors,” Ms. Ma said. “We believe the platform – and what it offers our users – is exciting.”

Final Take
Peter Finocchiaro, editorial assistant at Mobile Commerce Daily

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