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Holy Gilt.com! Invitation only shopping sites are not hurting.
Jul 14, 09 - Michelle

Update to last week’s Ideeli post:

Here’s a revealing article about Gilt.com, Ideeli.com, HauteLook.com and RueLaLa.com in the Wall Street Journal.

I was very surprised to read, “Gilt is projecting revenue of more than $400 million in its fiscal year, which just began, up from $80 million last year, according to founder Kevin Ryan.”

It’s easier to get an invitation to join Gilt.com, than Ideeli.com. Gilt found me on Twitter after I tweeted my blog post on Ideeli. I could join Gilt immediately. Ideeli made me wait a couple of months.

By SHIRA OVIDE and VANESSA O’CONNELL

Online retail startups that specialize in “private sales” of discount designer apparel are gaining traction in the U.S. and, armed with fresh venture capital, plan to branch into new businesses.

The companies, including Gilt Groupe, RueLaLa and HauteLook, have built a following with virally marketed, daily “members only” sales of limited merchandise. Short, intense sales — often just 36 hours — along with constant updates on which items are out of stock create a sense of urgency and excitement to buy.

On Thursday, RueLaLa sold out of black Yves Saint Laurent “hobo” handbags for $999, regularly $1,595. One sale of Christian Louboutin shoes on Gilt included about 70 styles, such as suede stilettos listed at $775 but offered to members for $378.

Membership is free and generally requires little more than a name and email address. The sites gather members largely by word of mouth, limiting their audiences. Gilt now has 1.2 million members.

Here’s a few images from Gilt’s email campaign (July 13):

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