September 3rd, 2013 BKTK - Mobile Shopping Deconstructed with Gilt Groupe

On Tuesday, September 3, 2013, OLC attended BKTK’s Mobile Shopping Deconstructed with Gilt Groupe featuring Yonathan Feldman, VP of Mobile and Dominique Essig, VP of Product Management. Yin moderated the event.

Yin: What is the mobile shopping experience? This will be overarching question for tonight.

Yonatan Feldman: Gilt launched in 2007 as an online flash sale model in the luxury space. We expanded to other categories and now we’re a lifestyle brand.

Yin: Flash sales, sort of impulse-based sales—what is Gilt’s first experience with mobile?

YF: We launched our first app in October 2008. We thought mobile was a great way to increase sales. It started as a side project because we needed to scale the business.

Yin: What is the rate of change since 2009?

YF: As of now, we sell over 40% on mobile devices. No one knew it was going to be that fast of a growth.

Dominique Essig: It’s a massive focus for us as a company. We think about every experience and it’s so important for our customer base.

A member of the audience asked the panelists a question: What about responsive design?

YF: Our focus is to create the best experience in the world. We’re focused on iOS, but we want other operating systems to work seamlessly too.

Yin: You have two apps: One is Gilt On The Go and a Gilt City app. How do they intersect?

DE: Gilt City is a big referral platform for us. People who are referred are spending more time on the site and buy more. We need to take some time to think about if they’re different or the same.

YF: It made a lot of sense to launch it separately. Our customers think about Gilt as a whole lifestyle brand. We’re discussing it internally—we’re competing against ourselves, but it’s easy for people to get exposure to viewers.

Yin: Why are native mobile apps so important—what is it about their functionality?

YF: You can create an app that is smooth, fast and refined. Our goal is to make the best app, so we will use the best tools. For us, most of our users are iOS users, so it doesn’t make sense to focus on Android.

Yin: Gilt apps are streamlined and pretty. What are the most important design elements?

DE: Performance is key. Fast, reactive, lightweight—that’s what users are looking for.

Innovation is another topic to focus on.

YF: We try to distill the experience to what users want to do. We want an easy, fun shopping experience. We also try to figure out what will help people shop. Sunglasses are hard to shop for online, so we played around with augmented reality. We made it into a useable feature for our users.

Yin: What about feature that didn’t work?

DE: Video is very difficult to work with. You have to be mindful o what problems videos are solving and what customers get an in-depth view.

YF: We pay attention to what features we don’t add to our apps. We try to figure out solutions to work with constraints and it helps make better decisions.

Yin: Can you talk about definite phone-specific features or tablet-specific ones?

YF: The usage between those two are very different. Tablets are used during evenings and we know the session time is longer. There’s more browsing and more conversion rates. We target the experience based on usage patterns and the capability of the device.

The iPad is more about images and the smartphone experience is basically get-whatyou-want-and-get out. It’s very transactional.

Yin: What are your challenges in ecommerce?

DE: It’s more of an opportunity than a challenge. We think about tablets vs. smartphones all the time. We hope to bring a unified experience in the future. We also look at making sure we listen to our customers and how they view the app.

YF: In addition to being close to customer service, we use data to figure out how to adjust day-to-day. We’re always adjusting based on data. We invest a lot in our technology stack.

Yin: How does personalization play in Gilt?

DE: We don’t think about it differently from mobile and desktop. Amazon paved the way, but we’ve seen that it’s still emerging. Customers want the opportunity to truly cultivate their own experiences.

Yin: Do men purchase more on mobile?

DE: We actually have more moms buying expensive children’s clothes on mobile. That’s pretty interesting statistics. For our customers, women purchase more from us than men do.