Gilt Is the Perfect Guilty Pleasure: Top Shelf Online Shopping

by Alyssa Oursler | August 13, 2013 3:11 pm

Top Shelf showcases luxury vacations, goods, restaurants and more that you can indulge in after your investing pays off.

TopShelf (3)[1]

At the start of this month, popular luxury retailer Saks (SKS[2]) — best known for its flagship Fifth Avenue store[3] — got five minutes of fame by selling itself to Hudson’s Bay (HBAYF[4]).

In the aftermath of the deal, I chatted with Vivaldi Partners Group’s Tammy Tan. One of her comments[5] really stood out to me. She said:

“The retail business environment has been disrupted by the arrival of online luxury retailers on the scene. Saks and Lord & Taylor will need to keep their focus on winning against online luxury disruptors like Net-A-Porter and Gilt Groupe.

Online retailers aren’t just a problem for Saks, of course. Luxury king Michael Kors (KORS[6]) and soon-to-be-public department store[7] Neiman Marcus both focus heavily on e-commerce for the same reason.

Instead, what struck me about the comment was the use of the term “disruptors.” Because while it has a negative connotation — as it should from the point of view of brick-and-mortar brands — such shopping options are intriguing (in a good way) from a consumer perspective.

I’d never heard of either sites Tan mentioned — probably because luxury is a bit out of my price range — but decided to do a little digging anyways. And without meaning to, I soon stumbled upon another thing savers and investors can aspire to afford.

Gilt Groupe is the one that really struck my attention. If you haven’t heard of it, here’s a summary: Imagine Amazon (AMZN[8]) and Groupon (GRPN[9]) had a baby … and it won the lottery. Then you have[10].

The main thing that sets Gilt apart from other retailers isn’t just its luxury offerings, either. Heck, you can find Louis Vuitton on Amazon too. Instead, it’s that Gilt boasts designer flash sales. Most start start at noon. Shoppers can only reserve item for 10 minutes, and styles sell out quickly.

That sets it apart from Amazon, where there seems to be an endless supply from endless suppliers, and where your wishlist is now a public Pinterest-like display[11].

And then there’s the “deals” side — slickly labeled “City.” You choose your location and Groupon-like deals pop up — except they’re clearly for the well-off. The current deals in my area are for plastic surgery and housecleaning.

One thing to note: Gilt does require your email to sign up, so it can notify you about sales and the like. Right now, I tend to shy away from sites that require an email address to sign up and then bombard my inbox with offers — but that’s mostly because I don’t have the money to afford the things it sends to me.

But when I do have the hard-earned cash, I sure wouldn’t complain about having the latest designer styles at my fingertips.

Alyssa Oursler is an Assistant Editor of InvestorPlace. Follow her on Twitter @alyssaoursler[12].

  1. [Image]:
  2. SKS:
  3. flagship Fifth Avenue store:
  4. HBAYF:
  5. One of her comments:
  6. KORS:
  7. soon-to-be-public department store:
  8. AMZN:
  9. GRPN:
  11. public Pinterest-like display:
  12. @alyssaoursler:

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