May 18, 2011, 5:32 PM

Gilt Groupe sets a place at its web table for gourmet food

But unlike its parent, GiltTaste.com won’t be a flash-sale site.

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It’s hard to think of private-event web retailer Gilt Groupe Inc. as just a women’s apparel retailer anymore.

If anything, Gilt Groupe, No. 49 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, continues to diversify its merchandising categories at a brisk pace.

The latest merchandising move by Gilt, which posted Internet Retailer-estimated web sales of $425 million in 2010, is a new e-commerce site for gourmet foods. Gilt isn’t saying much about the launch of GiltTaste.com, which is being tested.

 

 

But GiltTaste.com isn’t just another private-event niche retailing site. Instead, the e-commerce site sells gourmet foods, including meat, seafood and dairy products, on a full-time basis. In addition to fresh food items, GiltTaste.com also carries canned and boxed items and cooking equipment. The site does not require visitors to sign up for a membership, which they must do to shop Gilt’s private event sales.

The target customers are serious food shoppers looking for certain gourmet items such as artisanal meat, which is cured and carved by hand and typically is available only in delicatessens and specialty meat stores. “Artisanal meat is hard for people outside New York to get,” says GiltTaste.com editorial advisor Ruth Reichl. “There are ethical eaters out there who care about this and can afford $30 to nearly $200 a pound for steaks. This is a luxury brand.”

GiltTaste.com will carry other specialty items such as chocolates, charcuterie, caviar, king salmon, high-end vinegars, ethnic items such as Afghan mezze, and West Coast oysters shipped within a day of harvest. The site also features food and cooking content written by well-known food writers such as Barry Estabrook, Mitchell Davis and Rachel Wharton.

GiltTaste.com is Gilt’s latest move to sell more than women’s apparel. In March, Gilt bought Decorati.com, a web site designed to connect shoppers with interior designers and upscale home furnishings; Gilt did not say how much it paid for Decorati. This summer, Gilt plans to launch an e-commerce site that sells men’s apparel, accessories, athletic gear and gadgets, all at full price.

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