February 9, 2012, 12:32 PM

Gilt aims to expand its reach via shopping sites and affiliates

The large flash-sale retailer will launch an affiliate marketing program for bloggers and fashion sites.

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Gilt Groupe Inc. is letting outside software developers connect with the data behind the retailer’s flash sales in hopes of creating new shopping applications that will attract customers. At the same time, it’s also launching an affiliate marketing program, providing bloggers and other fashion-related sites with the ability to earn commissions for shoppers they forward to Gilt’s e-commerce site.

Gilt, No. 49 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide, says that more than a million consumers shop weekly on its e-commerce sites and mobile apps, and that opening up its flash sale data could bring a significant increase in customer traffic.

"We're excited to expose data about our live and upcoming flash sales in a developer-friendly way," says John Quinn, vice president of technology at Gilt, "and we're looking forward to seeing what the programming community comes up with when it comes to presenting these sales and products in new and interesting ways."

Gilt yesterday made available its application programming interface, or API, which enables outside software developers to directly connect with Gilt’s back-end data that provide the descriptions of its flash sales. Gilt’s sales, such as for women’s and men’s fashion apparel, home decor and travel services, typically last about 36 hours and offer merchandise in limited quantities.

A software developer, for example, might develop a new web application for shopping particular types of Gilt flash sales and make the app available through download to smartphones or through a new affiliate marketing site, such as a blog site about women’s fashions. The result would be potentially new customers and incremental sales for Gilt, and a new commission revenue stream for the mobile app developer or blogger.

Gilt is working with Apigee, a provider of API management products and services, to make its API available to developers. Developers can get directly involved through Gilt’s new developers portal at http://dev.gilt.com, which offers account management and documentation on how to retrieve data via the API.

Opening up APIs to let outside developers connect with a retailer’s product catalog or other data is an increasingly popular way to extend a web retailer’s reach with consumers. Best Buy Co. Inc., for instance, has been letting developers use the API to its product data to develop new ways to purchase the retailer’s products. Best Buy is No. 11 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

Jason John, senior director of marketing at Gilt Groupe, will be speaking at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition  in a session entitled “The many flavors of a social strategy: What will work for you?”

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