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  • Warren Shoulberg

Gilt Group Honing in On Home for 2012

The Gilt Groupe groupThe Gilt Groupe group: Jason Goldberger, left, and Tom Delevan, right, of Gilt Home with Gilt ceo Kevin Ryan.
NEW YORK - Gilt Home 2011 is so...well, so 2011.
     With the start of the new year, Gilt Group's Home operation, which was only just segmented into its own entity last fall, is poised to prove it is no flash sale in the pan.
     With a dedicated website, full-price offerings and expanded editorial content, Gilt Home - now beefed up with a staff twice the size of a year ago - is moving beyond its flash or popup sale origins into the realm of total virtual retailing.
     Heading that effort is Jason Goldberger, general manager, who joined Gilt last year following a home-centric career in both the online - Haymarket and Amazon - and in-store - Bamberger's - worlds. Under his watch, the home business at Gilt (privately held so no actual numbers are available) doubled last year and the plan is every bit as ambitious for 2012.
     "This is a huge, growing industry," he told HTT in an exclusive interview at the company's Flatiron headquarters in New York City. "Gilt is a lifestyle brand and we have an offering that nobody else can match."
Gilt Group     Right now Gilt Home is running an average of 23 to 25 sales a week from a roster of some 500 brands. Among the names that have turned up on the site are Missoni Home, Frette, Sferra, Matouk, Newport and Dransfield & Ross.
     The assortment obviously skews toward better goods and that's by design, says Goldberger. "We're very focused on luxury and we think design is very important. We don't sell any opening price point product."
     Merchandise is presented to the viewer in several ways, he said. Editorial content, headed by ex-Domino magazine editor-at-large Tom Delavan, Gilt Home's editorial director, provides a foundation for the selling effort. Product is shown individually, by classification or by designer. Alexa Hampton was a recent marquee name.
     Delavan, who joined Gilt Home last fall, has been busy integrating the editorial content onto the site, aiming for a posting schedule of three times a week in a variety of formats, including how-to videos. A recent piece was titled, "Good Trends Gone Bad."
     Price-wise, there is a two-pronged strategy with both full price and discounted offerings. "I Gilt Groupthink flash is very exciting and we have no intention of not doing flash," said Goldberger. "In fact, we've added more flash than ever. But we believe full-price is a very important part of what we're doing."
     Right now, the two strongest home classifications are furniture and home textiles, specifically bed and bath. "They are neck and neck in dollars."
     What's changed in online shopping "is what the customer will buy online and how much they will pay," he said, citing sofas as an example of the trend.
     For 2012, there will be expansions of existing formats, as well as a dedicated mobile site for Gilt Home.
     It's an aggressive plan, one no doubt fostered by the increased competition in flash sales in general and home flash sites specifically. Many industry observers predict that not all the current players will survive the inevitable industry shakeout.
     Gilt is determined to prove that when it comes to home, it does indeed have the Midas touch.

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