Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson have always loved going to sample sales to score designer finds for less. The crowds and inconvenient treks? Not so much. So they created giltgroupe.com, a members-only designer sale site offering access to the world's most coveted labels for wait for it up to 70 percent less than the retail price. When they sold out of everything within eight hours during their first sale in 2007, they knew they were onto something major. Now Gilt Groupe has more than a million members and about 25 sales every week. Its sister site, Gilt Fuse (giltfuse.com), launching September 1, offers more casual items at even lower prices. Below are Wilkis Wilson's expert tips for mastering online shopping, gilt-style.
1. Read GILT's Monday morning e-mail: "It informs members about what brands are on deck for the week. Add the sales you're interested in to your calendar so you remember to log on."
2. Do Your Research: "If you see a brand that looks interesting in the weekly e-mail, go to their store. Take a look at what they have to offer, and try on clothes so you know how they fit you and what size you are. That way, you can shop the sale faster."
3. Log on at 11:55 a.m.: "This is like doing a stretch before a sprint. Get there early and warm up a bit."
4. Narrow Your Search: "Go to your number-one designer first, then select the style you want and your size from the drop-down chart so that only items that fit you will show up."
5. Work your way up the page: "Go from the bottom up. Most people start at the top, so you're likely to have less competition if you shop the last items first."
6. If you see something you like, put it in your cart: "You have 10 minutes to keep an item before you have to buy it or lose it, so load up your cart and decide later. Also, remember that you can always cancel your order up to an hour after purchase."
7. Get on the wait list: "If we're out of an item you want, we'll try to get in more of the product, then contact you."