How Gilt Changed Shopping

Friday, April 13, 2012

Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, co-founders of Gilt Groupe, and authors of By Invitation Only: How We Built Gilt and Changed the Way Millions Shop, discuss how their business changed the way we shop--and what it says about consumer culture today. 


Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson

Comments [37]

Tsa key locks from US

Best ideas on shopping and information is quite effective. Thanks for this post
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Jun. 14 2012 07:15 AM

Embarrassing. Shame on BLS for giving these tools a platform. And what a shame that such bright women have abandoned any concern they may have previously had for the public good.

I once bought something from Gilt -- and found the 10-minute countdown to purchase items hateful. It creates a sort of consumer hysteria, encouraging all shoppers to buy on impulse. And this from a former environmental science major? Bah.

Apr. 17 2012 01:09 PM
rp from manhattan

I was aghast at this show; so unlike the shows Brian has become so renowned for. First, the focus on consumption and luxury and lust for things and manipulation, and second, the brazen promotion of what is, after all, just another shopping site. The two women would not answer difficult questions (isn't it true that the site can cause addiction? answer: we stand behind our products. why can't products be returned: answer: we stand behind our products.)


But happy to see every one of these comments expressed more or less the same opinions.

Apr. 14 2012 07:54 PM
David from NYC

Brian, REALLY?? No offense to the Gilt guests, but the reason we support WNYC is so we don't have to endure the shilling of regular radio. Perhaps the BL staff could review FCC policy on noncommercial radio stations and advertising. Handy little guide when booking those guests in the future.

File a complaint HERE:

Apr. 13 2012 03:49 PM
namey from nyc

Segments like these, and WNYC's rejection of grass-roots efforts such as Occupy Wall Street - OWS - is the reason I stopped giving money to this station.

WNYC, as should all journalism, stand with the down trodden, the grassroots movements.

Apr. 13 2012 03:11 PM
Randi from Brooklyn

I forgot to add: the other thing that I like about these luxury discounters is the fact that many of them are owned and operated by women.

Apr. 13 2012 12:00 PM
Randi from Brooklyn

I'm a member of Gilt but I have yet to spend any money on the site. Basically its a TJ Maxx for luxury goods. Anyone buying from these sites should understand that the goods one these sites are like the goods on the final sale rack at a department store - these are the items that the labels are trying to get rid off and they use a third party (i.e. Gilt, TJ Maxx, Century 21) to sell them.

The one good thing about these sites is that if you do get a discounted high end item that has a defect, you can pay to get it fixed and you'll have a luxury item like new at a fraction of the cost. Then you can sell it on Ebay :-)

Apr. 13 2012 11:58 AM

I hadn't heard about the site until the show today. The site itself is not that "amazing" or "special" as your guests described. Am I just not their target viewer or some of your producers are simply too crazy about the site?

Apr. 13 2012 11:37 AM
sandra from nyc

In a time in America where the MAJORITY of families are struggling just to afford gas, food and a basic education, why is WNYC promoting a website that encourages American Consumerism, Overspending and Unemployment?

What ever happened to American Workmanship? We are becoming a nation of Credit Laden Button Pushing Automatons. For shame that a Harvard Environmental Major is exploiting such blatant overspending
of disposable income on luxury goods.

Please, no more commercials otherwise I'll stop supporting this station and donate to the QVC instead!!!

Apr. 13 2012 11:27 AM
Barbara Lifton from Manhattan

Just tried to join GILT on its web site. The membership box is frozen- refuses to move after I inserted my email, password and gender.
They are clearly incompetent in running a web business and Brian should not have given them free publicity.
How about doing a meaningful segment of the show, for example, the situation in Syria?

Apr. 13 2012 11:26 AM
Cory from nyc

disgusting commercial crap. initially i thought you were talking about "guilt" as in "guilt for indulging in shallow materialistic vacuous american culture", which i thought might be a good topic, but, uhhh... i was wrong.

Apr. 13 2012 11:26 AM
John A. from the call center

Or, A view of WNYC Without Your listener dollars.

Apr. 13 2012 11:21 AM
Otto Cosmopolis from Long Island City

Brian please don't let them get away with giving themselves an add on NYC.Listen to them, talking up their return policy. What a waste of a Harvard education

Apr. 13 2012 11:21 AM
Another Alexis

To respond to the contention that they do not accept returns due to deep discounting: A quick Google search frequently reveals that Gilt does not have the best pricing for many items. This is a choice to maximize profits, not merely to stay in business.

Apr. 13 2012 11:20 AM


I'm not the target audience here. How much time on their hands do these people have??

Also, forcing emails is exactly what's wrong about some sites.

Apr. 13 2012 11:19 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

Sounds like my worst nightmare (as filtered through virtual reality).

Apr. 13 2012 11:19 AM
Josh from Washington Heights

Did NPR get paid to do this interview? This sounds nothing like Brian's usually informative interviews and sounds like a PR puff piece infomercial. Seriously, if you just turned on the station, you'd think that you were listening to the Home Shopping Network.


Apr. 13 2012 11:18 AM

Worst. Segment. Ever.

Apr. 13 2012 11:18 AM
Natalie from NYC

Just visited site. Nothing special...

Apr. 13 2012 11:17 AM
fuva from Harlemworld

really? hayell no.

Apr. 13 2012 11:16 AM
William Limratana

I am really digging this new infomercial model for the Brian Lehrer show.

Apr. 13 2012 11:16 AM

As a designer/maker who has had sales with Gilt, I worry a little about the increase in the flash sale model. It's starting to undervalue our work in my opinion because everyone wants stuff on sale all the time!

Apr. 13 2012 11:15 AM
Annie Thompson from Brooklyn

Where is the self-consciousness? In this era of double digit unemployment, gross and increasing disparity of wealth this interview and this "invitation only" site is frivolity in the face of crisis. Ironic that it comes on the heels of the Make the Road interview about exploitation of workers at car washes and nail salons.

Apr. 13 2012 11:15 AM
Another Alexis

I find the lack of returns on Gilt and other retailers to be really problematic. I have purchased a number of home goods on sales sites only to find that the really weren't saleable, with defects, odors, poor performance. How is this any better than TJ Maxx, which does allow deep discounting with returns?

Apr. 13 2012 11:14 AM

Do they sell nausea pills? I'm starting to pray to the Mayan Gods at this point. I know it's Friday, but please, enough with the fluff.

Apr. 13 2012 11:14 AM
RJ from prospect hts

This is insane. I've never heard of Gilt before, but the description I'm hearing says "don't look for what you need or want, look to spend money on things you happen to find." Really? Is that what we're valuing these days?

Apr. 13 2012 11:14 AM
Jeff from East Village

Although shopping is a worthy and serious topic, I am really surprised that this segment sounds like simple promotion -- especially because the founders are simply tooting their own horns. This is Brian's show?

Apr. 13 2012 11:13 AM
Denise from Brooklyn

Wow. IS this a paid ad for Gilt? ANy critical thinking about it at all?

Apr. 13 2012 11:13 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Sorry, but there is something off with the caller who shops on Gilt every day.

What is with our society??? Since when did shopping become the proxy for real life?

Apr. 13 2012 11:13 AM
snoop from Brooklyn

OK, this woman is just a paragon of why PR folks are soooooo incredibly irritating. Everything is great, everything is awesome, everything is just the best.

But I do appreciate that you have such a lovely ad for this company... I hope they are contributing in the pledge drive!

Apr. 13 2012 11:13 AM
John A.

Something about Noam Chomsky.
Something about online gambling.
Something like "Wake Up, Sheeple"

Apr. 13 2012 11:13 AM
Jeremy Cox from Ditmas park

I am extremely curious as to whether these products have been manufactured specifically for off-price or rather full price retail markets

Apr. 13 2012 11:13 AM
James from nyc

a site for shopping junkies.

a place to get something you don't need.

Apr. 13 2012 11:12 AM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

How long will this, segment be?

Apr. 13 2012 11:12 AM
Susy from Manhattan

Brian, I love this segment. great to hear more about success stories -- especially women in business -- and women innovating in the business sphere.

Congratulations, ladies. : )

Apr. 13 2012 11:12 AM
John from Park Slope

I've never heard the BL show shill for a product before. Disappointing.

Apr. 13 2012 11:12 AM
Chié from Gr. Village

Do I know Gilt? I have bought many things from them--both the US and Japanese sites!

Apr. 13 2012 11:12 AM

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