October 12, 2011, 3:35 PM

Mobile Commerce Forum Report: Gilt fashions app success

A Jetta and a Rolex later, Gilt says consumers don’t hesitate to buy with iPads.

Lead Photo

Chris Maliwat

A quick look into Gilt Groupe’s success with its iPad app shows that consumers don’t hesitate to shop and buy on the mobile tablet computer. The e-retailer’s flash-sale business model is based on convincing consumers to buy immediately, and Gilt built its iPad app to encourage consumers to act wherever they may be the moment an offer goes live.

That’s how the e-retailer sold a VW Jetta to a Gilt iPad app user less than a minute after the deal went live, and a $25,000 vintage Rolex to another iPad app user, said Chris Maliwat, Gilt Groupe vice president of strategy, at the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Forum today.

“Our members are on the go and want to make a decision quickly,” he said. “They aren’t trigger-shy to buy anything through the iPad device.”

More than 250,000 consumers have downloaded the Gilt iPad app since it launched in April, Maliwat said, and half of Gilt’s total mobile revenue comes from iPad users. Mobile sales comprise anywhere from 17% to 30% of total sales depending on the day of the week, he said, with the 30% figure typical on weekends.

He said the shopping experience Gilt built for the iPad app makes shopping feel more visceral than shopping on the web because of the iPad’s touchscreen. He says consumers can flip through the product photos, which fill the entire tablet screen, as they would a print magazine.

“From the responses that we get from consumers, it is fundamentally different to virtually touch an object on a touchscreen, and it bridges the connection to make them feel the product, and that’s something that they can’t get through mousing on the web,” Maliwat said.

Gilt is currently developing new features designed to make the iPad app shopping experience feel more real. Maliwat says Gilt is working on a tool that lets shoppers take pictures of themselves with the iPad’s built-in camera and see how products being offered for sale, like glasses or sunglasses, will look on them. “These new technologies drive us to think differently about how shopping happens in the world,” he said.

Gilt is No. 49 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide and No. 9 in Internet Retailer’s Mobile Commerce Top 300 Guide.

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