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Gilt-ii Turns Flash Sales Site Gilt Into An Auction Marketplace

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At the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon today, local hackers Bill Magnuson and Jon Hyman presented an e-commerce plugin for flash sales site Gilt.com that is worth a look. Called Gilt-ii, the bookmarklet allows Gilt members to auction their items in their shopping cart during the actual buying process.

So here’s the basic premise behind Gilt-ii. Everyday at noon ET, Gilt releases daily price cuts on luxury goods. There are limited quantities of these goods, and most of these items become unavailable within in minutes fo the sale opening. That’s why many shoppers on the site put things in their cart, where they have ten minutes to decide if they want to purchase the item, even if they aren’t necessarily sold on the idea of buying the item.

Gilt-ii’s bookmarklet allows those who have the items in their carts to transform into risk-free auctioneers, selling items to any Gilt shoppers who are accessing a “Sold Out – Item in Members’ Carts” message. When a user running “Gilt-ii” opens their shopping cart, their items are automatically registered for auction and displayed to out of luck buyers in the “Gilt-ii Auctions” box right into the item details page. From the auctions box, buyers submit bids on their desired items. As bids are made, they are displayed to the auctioneers right inside their shopping cart — if they see a price that they like, they can accept the bid and Gilt-ii will automatically handle the money transfer between users and change the shipping information at check out to that of the bidder. Auctioneers spend nothing until someone agrees to purchase the item from them.

As a Gilt shopper, I have experienced the letdown of not being able to purchase a coveted item (at a pretty good deal) because I didn’t act fast enough or I wasn’t able to check the site exactly when the sale started. Not only does Gilt-ii give shoppers a chance to purchase these already sold items, but it gives other Gilt shoppers the opportunity to make a few bucks off of purchases on the site by auctioning off items.

Gilt’s CEO Susan Lynne has said in the past that gaming elements play a big part in Gilt’s model. Shoppers want to get a luxury item as soon as it comes out and are more incentivized to buy because of the time limit, and competition to get to the site first to purchase items. Gilt-ii certainly takes advantage of this mentality.

Hyman says he thought of the idea after observing his girlfriend become frustrating with losing items on Gilt. Magnuson, who works at Bridgewater LP, and Hyman tell us that the bookmarklet’s functionality can be used on other time sensitive platforms, such as on OpenTable for restaurant reservations and sites like Ticketmaster for event sales.