High-End Groceries Sold in a Flash

Jun 01, 2011

Gilt Groupe, the flash sale operator launched in 2007, has introduced
a new site which includes, for the first time, editorial in a magazine-style
format. Gilt Taste’s stories will expand on product offerings, tackling provenance,
politics and recipes as well as personal essays about food and drink adventures.
Described by its originators as an online culinary magazine without ads, it’s
aimed at people who love to cook and eat.

In a statement, Gilt described itself as an "innovative lifestyle company
offering highly coveted products and experiences at insider prices … an
addictive destination for aspirational shoppers from coast to coast."

stressing sales are by invitation only, membership to all Gilt sites is free.
The food pages on Gilt Taste demand registration for weekly specials only.
Having started with fashion, Gilt also promotes travel and home décor.

Mashable’s view is that the model "is a promising example of a larger
shift in the e-commerce industry in which shopping sites blend content and
commerce, becoming more like magazines in the process." Editorial is based
primarily on what’s for sale, with the odd generalized piece for balance (e.g.,
"What will fracking do to your food supply?").

In her introduction, editorial adviser Ruth Reichl, a
former restaurant reviewer and Gourmet magazine editor, insists that
she would not be involved if this was "just a catalog of products — no
matter how wonderful." She claims that its magazine style, albeit one supported
by sales, is unique. She will also be involved in product selection "and
development of a community of local purveyors," according to PRNewswire.

lot (of the producers) aren’t great business people," Ms. Reichl told the
San Francisco Chronicle. "They need a path to market, and Gilt Taste can
provide that." Some products will be exclusively designed for Gilt Taste;
others have only been available to chefs and in limited farmers’ markets.

Discussion Questions: Do you think the “magazine” format adds value to Gilt Taste or the products it sells? Do you see editorial efforts like this working for other e-commerce websites?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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8 Comments on "High-End Groceries Sold in a Flash"

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Max Goldberg
9 years 11 months ago

For the upscale Gilt shopper, the editorial format can provide more information about the product and its context, thereby resulting in more sales. Provided that the articles are informative and do not needlessly clutter the consumer’s ability to quickly access products, this should be a plus for Gilt, and if successful, will be replicated by other ecommerce sites that sell to a similar audience.

Anne Howe
9 years 11 months ago

There used to be a separation of church and state in the magazine industry, advertisers could not “expect” editorial coverage. Now, this old rule is out the window. From a shopper standpoint, in today’s world, this new approach makes perfect sense. I hope Ruth Reichl is taking the reins of this new venture with the critical eyes and ears of and editor who understands her audience well and creates opportunity for feedback and dialogue frequently. I’m looking forward to being involved in concepts like this that are very shopper solution focused.

Cathy Hotka
9 years 11 months ago

I’m sure there are people who want to spend $58 for four pounds of hamburger. And I’m certain that there are people who want to read about high-end food. I’m also certain that this is a niche that contributes to the brand, but not so much to the bottom line.

Gene Detroyer
9 years 11 months ago

1. Most any good idea in retailing can be executed on the internet.
2. Some ideas can be executed better.
3. This is a good idea and one that every product manager has been trying to figure out how to do for the last 40 years.

Lisa Bradner
Lisa Bradner
9 years 11 months ago

Anybody remember the J Peterman catalog? Makes me think of it when I read this. If you look at tablet PCs and the rise of integrated e-commerce this is where the market is going: no breakage, no need to bookmark a page, no need to “rip out” a page either: just mouse over, click, buy and keep reading. Makes sense for a retailer or marketer but as Anne points out, for a pure content provider this may be a little stickier wicket. I suspect, however, they’ll get over it in the name of revenue.

Craig Sundstrom
9 years 11 months ago

Described by its originators as an online culinary magazine without ads… editorial is based primarily on what’s for sale, with the odd generalized piece for balance.

“Without ads,” it would appear, is an issue of semantics more than reality.

Roger Saunders
9 years 11 months ago

This type of site, if it puts the reader/consumer at the center of the equation–“products designed exclusively for Gilt (readers) Taste” or “products that were only available to chefs or limited farmers’ markets.” Products as intimate as consumables resonate in a unique manner with consumers.

By offering an insider view, and opportunity to participate, this site can fill a niche that could be lucrative. Gilt Groupe then just has to make sure they are more than a one-trick pony. They will have to have other editorial concept e-commerce websites in the wings.

Content has to be close to the niche that is being carved out–“People who love to cook and eat.” Caution should be taken in addressing a topic like “fracking and the food supply”–sounds like an agenda item–something that may not play well with some of their readers.

Alyson Anderson
Alyson Anderson
9 years 11 months ago

While the magazine format is interesting, Gilt Taste in and of itself faces an uphill battle. Gilt was built on flash sales, offering customers high-end product at a discount. Gilt Taste now is selling full priced products and hoping to upsell their customers. Their popularity was based on giving customers a discount. While they may have some unique products that are only sold through them, in most cases, they risk alienating the customers that made them successful to start.

The day of the Gilt Taste launch, they offered one product which could be bought directly from the manufacturer for less. Their customer is savvy enough to double-check….

In terms of the editorial efforts, many retailers are moving to the magazine format, especially through apps for iPads and other tablets. They offer a different way to view and learn about products and will continue to grow as more people migrate to these devices.


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