Flash-sales retailer Gilt this week announced the Sept. 8 opening of “Gilt by Appointment.”
The showroom in New York will feature a stylist as well as an assortment of items available through its site, and will be open Tuesday through Friday. Appointments will last 60 to 90 minutes.
The opportunities to visit with a stylist differ depending on whether a member is shopping for an event, how big of a group is visiting, or if a customer is solo, and if budget is also a consideration.
In its announcement regarding its new “Gilt by Appointment” venture, Gilt seemed to take pains to avoid the word “store.” That perhaps is an effort to impart a sense of exclusivity in keeping with the flash-sale retailer's upscale goods and membership model.
But the flash-sales model is on the skids, with limitations that once seemed like innovations now looking like Achilles’ heels. Indeed, Gilt and other flash-sale retailers have had to change up some of the approach’s basic rules, like Draconian return policies and slow shipping times.
Flash-sales Zulily has more or less thrown in the towel with its sale last month to QVC parent Liberty at something of a discount at $2.4 billion, although the essential flash-sales approach may remain.
It’s hard to know which elements of the flash-sales phenomenon to keep — the members-only approach and the ticking clock seemed at first to be shiny objects, but are turning out to be discouragements as the approach has tarnished and the economy has improved.
As inventories have cleared up and consumer confidence has risen, for example, flash-sales retailers are having a harder time coming by items their customers want. And among the worst problems for Gilt and other flash-sales retailers is slow fulfillment in a two-day, same-day, and pick-up-in-store delivery world. And membership at Amazon means free two-day shipping and other perks, while at most flash-sales retailers it basiclaly means you can access the site, whose wares may not be available in a few hours.