Gilt is taking its off-price format offshore.
On Saturday, two Gilt at Sea pop-up shops will launch on board the Celebrity Reflection and Celebrity Silhouette cruise ships sailing weekly from Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., through the Caribbean. Both ships are part of the Celebrity Cruises fleet of 12 ships.
“We are looking for innovative formats and channels to drive brand awareness, reach new and existing audiences and acquire new members,” said Jonathan Greller, president of Gilt. “It’s about engagement. We truly believe we will win on experience.”
The Gilt pop-ups, which will be open until Jan. 29, reflect how the Hudson Bay Co. has been working to re-instill an innovative spirit at the Gilt website.
Founded in 2007, Gilt.com pioneered the flash sale format and grew rapidly. By 2014, the company was preparing for an initial public offering and valued at $1 billion but lost momentum after its format became widely copied and the luxury market started to slow.
In January, Gilt was bought by Hudson’s Bay Co. for $250 million, far less than it was once valued at and less than the amount raised by investors in funding rounds. Last March, HBC opened the first permanent Gilt retail shop inside the Saks Off 5th store at 125 East 57th Street in Manhattan. Greller called that 1,000-square-foot space “a lab for retail innovation.” While additional shops are being considered, there are none currently set to be opened. Last July, in a buy-now-wear-now strategy, pieces from Zachary Prell’s spring men’s show were sold on gilt.com for 24 hours.
As Greller said, the company’s shipboard pop-ups “continue to evolve the Gilt model.”
Gilt and Celebrity Cruises are working with Starboard Cruise Services to debut Gilt at Sea. “Guests on board want more than souvenirs,” said Beth Neumann, president and ceo of Starboard. “They look to our shops to discover, to learn and to remember. Gilt at Sea will offer the chance to do all three.”
HBC sees Gilt reaching a wider audience through Gilt at Sea. The cruise ships are family experiences, while 70 percent of Gilt members are under 45 years of age.
Gilt at Sea will offer flash sale events and new products on a daily basis. Gilt at Sea will focus on resort fashions, intimates, handbags and gifts. Gilt.com offers members fashion and accessories for women, men, and children; home deecor, and experiences and activities in select destinations.
Celebrity Cruises has 12 ships and is one of six cruise brands operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Starboard Cruise Services provides luxury and prestige brands on cruise lines. The company is part of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and has more than 600 shops on almost 100 ships.
Considering consumers book cruises well in advance, there will be opportunities to market consumers before and after they step on board, such as through e-mails. There will also be table toppers, in-room TV ads, banners and inserts in the daily newsletter that feature listicles on what to wear, what to drink, what to listen to, etc. — all Gilt’s point of view on life and style. The Gilt shops will be 284 square feet each and daily themed sales will be different by ship. On the Reflection, themes include poolside style, romantic night in, excursion Looks, while on the Silhouette, the shop will have a “Best of Gilt” presentation. The Silhouette will have additional pop-up points of sale throughout the ship, including by the pool, in areas by the restaurants, the theater and cocktail lounges. Themed pop-up events will include Alexis Bittar jewelry, men’s accessories, clutches/handbags, and gift giving.