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Gilt exec: Push notifications beat SMS for native experience

November 6, 2013

NEW YORK — A Gilt executive at the Mobile Women to Watch 2014 Summit said that the online flash retailer prioritizes push notifications over SMS for reaching consumers in a more natural, less disruptive way.

During the “Using mobile to keep members coming back daily” session, the Gilt executive discussed how the company embraces a mobile-first philosophy to personalize the shopping experience for consumers. Gilt sends more than 2.5 million push notifications per day to engage its consumers.

“We haven’t done anything in SMS, we’re exploring it now,” said Elizabeth Francis, chief marketing officer of Gilt Groupe, New York.

“Right now we’re spending more time on push,” she said. “We think that’s the most frictionless and native experience for consumers. They’re in the app, how can we communicate with them.

“It’s a tremendous way for us to stay in touch with our customers on a daily basis.”

Mobile Women to Watch 2014 Summit is a Mobile Marketer presentation.

Mobile first
According to Ms. Francis, 40 percent of Gilt’s sales are generated through mobile. That number increased from 20 percent last year.

Additionally, 73 percent of Gilt’s consumers shop from their mobile device, and 70 percent are multichannel.

Gilt’s mobile consumers also return to its site more frequently, with three times more visits per unique visitors on mobile as opposed to desktop.

Responding to these trends, Gilt has adopted a mobile-first philosophy.

“One of the core tenets is giving our users access to Gilt anywhere,” Ms. Francis said. “Critical to this success is that we will be a mobile-first culture. I understand some people mock that phrase. I’m going to embrace it. It’s part of our DNA.”

Gilt currently has six mobile products for four different platforms, iPhone, mobile Web, iPad and Android.

As a part of Gilt’s mobile-first approach, the retailer offers mobile exclusive sales to deliver special perks for mobile shoppers.

Gilt’s apps also leverage a mobile device’s camera to let consumers “try on” sunglasses or find clothes of a specific shade by snapping a color swatch.

The Gilt session

With all of these mobile efforts backing up Gilt, it has recently been focusing on how to personalize this mobile experience to engage consumers. The Gilt app began personalizing its content this past August.

Gilt offers custom sales for every unique shopper based on carefully designed algorithms that take in brand favoriting, past purchase history and shopping behavior. The retailer also asks for consumer feedback to better design the personalized deals.

By leveraging mobile features such as geo-location, Gilt can further its personalization efforts by offering relevant and timely deals.

Commenting on the theme of the conference, Ms. Francis also discussed the importance of inspiring women to join the mobile marketing forces of places such as Gilt.

“It is a moment for us as women to take a look at our organization and make those best practices in terms of how do you make a mobile-first outlook but not forget that an outside world exists,” Ms. Francis said.

“It is unfortunate that there are not as many women in technology as we’d like,” she said. “Technology has really been the driver of mobile in these last few years.

“We just need to continue to drive awareness that this is an exciting field for women to be in. It’s really important for us as marketers to inspire the next generation of women and help them develop their careers.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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