By Gilt Director of Mobile Product Christopher Gonzalez

Gilt Japan has released a brand-new version of our iPhone app—and the updates are significant! It’s been extremely rewarding to see so many people—and Apple—embrace our work and share positive feedback with us. If you haven’t already, please download the app now to check it out! (If you’re outside Japan, you might need to switch your store to see the app—the new version is only available in the Japan App Store.)

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane by looking at some screenshots of the old Gilt iPhone app. A sales page from the women’s category used to look like this:

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A brand page, like this:

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And a product page used to look like this:

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With this being our first update in three years, there was much that we wanted to change about the old Gilt app. Some of our top priorities:

  • To provide support for iPhone 5 screens. Notice the constraining letterboxing in the old design—the content is just straining to be set free!

  • Enlarge the images. We invest a lot of time and creative energy into our photography, and we wanted our Japan customers to be able to enjoy them fully!

  • Introduce a lighter palette. The old Gilt branding was heavy on the black and gold, and quite dark.  

  • Create a single checkout experience across all devices and offer a consistent experience for our users. We also wanted to develop a platform that was easier to maintain.

Now, let’s reveal our gorgeous new app! Let’s start with the sales page. So light, airy and visually arresting:

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Here’s an individual sale page:

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And here’s a product page—so bright and cheerful:

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Besides brighter backgrounds, what’s new about the new Gilt app?:

  • Support for iPhone 5 screens. The elbow room feels good!

  • The branding and design now incorporates the conventions of iOS 7. Check out those edge-to-edge images and transparencies!

  • Bigger images to highlight our amazing photography

  • Full account support. Whether you want to update your shipping and payment information or start a return, you can now manage your full Gilt Japan account on the go

  • A great zoom view so that you can see every detail of an item

  • More than 40 very detailed sizing charts to ensure a precise fit

  • Maps featured with all Gilt City offers

In making these changes, we wanted to provide users with features that would inspire confidence in their purchases, and also make the Gilt Japan shopping experience even more simple and delightful than before. Our team built the app as a smart native/webview hybrid app: The full shopping experience is native, and checkout and account pages are responsive webpages loaded in the app. This strategy allows the app to share the same checkout experience as our mobile web and (eventually) full desktop site. Our platform is now more efficient, and making updates or rolling out new features will be a much faster process for us going forward.

Thanks, Apple!

Not only have our customers embraced the new Gilt app, but Apple has also supported it with some major promotional love—giving it a prominent position on the App Store homescreen as the top “best new app,” and helping to expose our work and the Gilt brand to so many new users:

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As well as here:

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And lastly:

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What do you think about our new app? Share your feedback with us by emailing productfeedback@gilt.com!

New York City’s Atlassian User Group is celebrating their one-year anniversary with a (undoubtedly well-organized!) big party for the project and program management set, and we’re proud to say that Gilt Tech is going to be a part of the festivities! Gilt Senior Director, PMO Heather Fleming will present “Beyond the Crystal Ball: The Agile PMO” in advance of her appearance in September (along with Gilt Director of Program Management Justin Riservato) at the Atlassian Summit. Representatives from Venmo, Vector Media Group, Goldman Sachs, and NYU Langone Medical Center will also give talks on JIRA, HipChat and PM-related topics. The fun starts at 7 PM at SNAP Interactive; go here to register.

Gilt Email Build Specialist/Front-end Developer Lauren Ribando has written another installment of her email marketing best-practices series for Sitepoint. Lauren’s newest article tells you how to create engaging content that communicates your message effectively—something she knows quite a lot about! Check it out here.

Here’s Gilt Director of Data Engineering Geoff Guerdat earlier this week at motorcycle school in New Jersey. Geoff’s an experienced rider, but he wanted some extra training to improve his skills.

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Hello! My name is Samantha Sabo and I’m a senior at the University of Delaware, pursuing degrees in both Marketing and Operations Management. This summer I had the pleasure of spending 10 weeks interning with Gilt’s Program Management Organization (PMO) in NYC. I’ve learned an incredible amount about Program Management, its methodologies and its history, but most valuable have been the personal development opportunities provided by my mentor and team members.

As a college student, I am frequently asked, “What is your dream job?” Before this summer, answering this question was an uncomfortable experience. (Sometimes deciding what to eat for lunch is difficult enough—and now you want to know what I want to do for the rest of my life??) I can now confidently say that my dream is to become a program manager. In fact, I can’t wait for someone to ask me what my dream job is, so I can talk about Program Management and my time as a Gilt intern.  I am drawn to Program Management as it provides the opportunity to work with multiple teams on diverse initiatives that help companies to achieve their goals.

On my first day at Gilt, I was as nervous and apprehensive as any intern might be upon entering such a posh office and meeting my mentor, PMO Senior Director Heather Fleming.  But Heather and the team instantly involved me in their work, and soon I felt like a team member, not like “the intern.” I sat in on sprint planning meetings and retrospectives, joined the team for social events, company softball games and team lunches, and observed how the program managers do their jobs. Every day I learned something new or developed a new skill.

I was constantly pushed to perform tasks that took me outside my comfort zone. I have the biggest phobia about public speaking, so sharing “the three things I learned this week” at our weekly PMO meetings was torture. At first, I was anxious about speaking in front of the group, but by my final week presenting became a lot easier and I was almost comfortable doing it.

Everyone I’ve met at Gilt says their favorite part of their job is “the people.” I feel the same. It is because of the support and guidance of my mentor and the PMO team that I transformed from the timid, unsure intern into a confident, goal-driven young woman.

It is hard to believe that my internship is ending. My ten weeks at Gilt flew by as each day brought excitement and education that I will carry into my future.  I will always take with me the value of working with a high-functioning team, the importance of mentoring, the idea of “paying it forward,” and the value of knowing who you are—whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, planner or thinker.

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If you’re a Business Intelligence Engineer, we’d like to hear about your favorite tools and methodologies. Email us at lapple at gilt dot com.

Hello, George! Tell us a bit about how you arrived at Gilt.

I got here in 2012 after working in business intelligence at Everyday Health, MTV/Viacom, and Hewlett-Packard, and before that I went to school at Cornell.

How have things changed since the early days?

When I first joined the team, we were still trying to figure things out. Our data warehouse was new, our self-service framework wasn’t built out yet, and our goals weren’t as well defined. Since then we’ve streamlined our processes and become a lot more efficient, within the team and out. We were doing a lot of repetitive work and now there’s much more time to work on projects that will make a difference and that we’re passionate about.

What drew you to Gilt in the first place?

Just walking into the office I felt a buzz and got the sense that there’s a healthy atmosphere here. Gilt has a great reputation, with a lot of smart people working here. Everyone I spoke to during the interview process, I had a good connection with. Technology-wise, we’re pretty cutting-edge and I was excited to work with the team and learn new skills with the latest tools.

What does an average day look like for you?

Every day is different, but typically I spend half the day doing analyses, then working on projects for different teams. For example, I’m working with our customer transactions team to get credit card data into our data warehouse, and our loyalty team on getting new AB testing data into the warehouse as well. The data team will help the engineers figure out how the data model will work and look. Projects vary in length and scope, but the ones I’m working on now have lasted a couple months.

The data team’s recent work has been involving a lot of open source technologies.

Yes. We’re doing much of our current work through new event streams, in which services relay messages to Kafka, and the data warehouse reads those messages. Eventually we’ll use Hadoop for the file storage, with Kafka relaying the messages there and the data warehouse reading from Hadoop. In our work with Kafka, the idea behind it—and we’re not there yet—but it is to create easy access to all of the data within the company, so no one will have to ask an engineer to create a process to access a file or send data to the data team; they can just publish events to Kafka.

In terms of technology skills, what should a business intelligence engineer possess?

Prior experience using a range of business intelligence tools, a solid background in SQL, and an understanding of how a data warehouse works. But the primary qualification for the job is a good mind for analytics—the ability to draw connections between different data sources, understand data models, see patterns, and consolidate them into insights decipherable by anyone.

At Gilt, a lot of our data isn’t exact, so working with it involves a lot of research. At a more granular level, that means working with various engineering teams to understand the data they’re producing and putting the data together from multiple sources (inventory, site-live inventory, email, click-stream, order transactions) to fit it into a model. Then we run the data through the model to understand its various attributes, and highlight the important attributes to support the various business decisions we make.

One of the things we pride ourselves on here is our flat structure. Do you get to work with tech leadership much?

I do work with the tech execs occasionally, but I work more frequently with the heads of other departments, like Marketing and Merchandise Planning. The data team works with every department in the company outside of tech: marketing, finance, operations, merch planning, etc. The projects we work on relate to everything from supply chain management, to new marketing initiatives, to understanding our customers and demographics, to AB testing and understanding more about the user experience. Across these initiatives, my role is to understand where all the data comes from, put it all together and make it easy to use for everyone else in the company who needs it. Within the data team, I work closely with our chief data scientist to run data models and see if certain assumptions about our data make sense or not.

Talk a bit about the tech stack our data team uses.

Our stack currently includes Aster Teradata, Hadoop, Kafka, AWS and AWS Kinesis, real-time data events streams, and lots of micro-services written in Scala. On the front-end we work with Cognos, Looker and Spotfire.

What do you enjoy most about working with this stack?

Our data warehouse is pretty amazing in terms of speed and processing power. The amount of data we can process, run analytics on and get responses back—and quickly—is pretty awesome. A lot of other places I’ve been to, especially startups, don’t have the infrastructure to do that. It’s great to be able to iterate on your analytics quickly—you don’t have to wait for the data to come back.

The MR functions that Aster provides, and the functions we can create on our own, make our analytics even faster. And having Scala programmers on our team, who can help write MRs so that we can do things Aster can’t do out of the box, is really powerful.

Which technology do you personally use the most?

Most of my work involves working with SQL, but also Cognos and Looker. We do a lot of data mining and looking at large sets of data to find patterns.

We’ve been a bit bullish about Looker since we started using it. What are its advantages?

Looker has empowered people across the business to do their own analysis. It’s generated a collective sense of ownership when it comes to our data and analytics. The more powerful self-service is, the more insightful our analytics can be, and the more the data team is freed up from mundane tasks involving pulling data for people. We’re free to discover new things and take on new projects, not just build reports for the rest of the company.

What are your favorite things about your job?

Interacting with all the different teams—it helps me to understand the business more. Designing new solutions and participating in the discussions on how to best approach an analysis, choose the data to work with. I also appreciate the diversity of projects. Usually the data team will focus on helping one department at a time for 2-3 months, but even then we’re still working with everyone.

What do you like most about the data team’s culture?

Everyone is pretty independent, yet we’re pretty close. We’re all there for each other, but we give each other a lot of leeway to build and develop the way we want to.  

And what about Gilt’s culture in general?

We’re quick in getting things done.  Everyone is really helpful.  We act on new ideas quickly and we’re not afraid to fail.

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The #gilttech team is super-excited to welcome David Nolen to 2 Park on August 27! David is one of ClojureScript’s main contributors, a developer at Cognitect, one of the developers behind the Brooklyn-based workshop Kitchen Table Coders, a musician, and a frequent speaker at conferences nationwide (he’ll be at GOTO Copenhagen and GOTO Aarhus). His topic for the night will be “The Immutable Stack”:

In the Clojure world, we have been quietly building an immutable stack. Immutablity not only eliminates incidentical complexity from client and server code, it also greatly simplifies reasoning about distributed state and thus coordination between the client and server. We’ll examine the various components of the immutable stack and see how these components can be adapted or constructed for other language runtimes.

You definitely want to attend this meetup! Go here to RSVP.

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To celebrate the one-year anniversary of the launch of Gilt’s personal sales, our Dublin office is hosting a free machine learning course taught by University College Dublin professor Pádraig Cunningham! This four-hour course will cover concepts in supervised machine learning and predictive analytics, including linear and logistic regression and techniques for automated prediction and recommendation engines. 

The material to be covered is quite technical but should be accessible to anyone with good quantitative skills. The course will include some practical exercises.

Details:
When: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 from 1-5 PM
Where:  Spencer Hotel, Excise Walk, IFSC, Dublin 1, Ireland
Cost: Free (includes lunch)
What to bring: Your laptop with Excel and Weka installed

About the instructor: Dr. Cunningham is Professor of Knowledge and Data Engineering in the School of Computer Science and Informatics at University College Dublin. His current research focus is on the analysis of graph and network data and on the use of machine learning techniques in processing high-dimension data. He has published over 170 peer-reviewed papers in the general area of applied AI, focusing on machine learning and knowledge-based systems for decision support in engineering, e-commerce, finance and medicine. Over the last 10 years he has brought in over €2.5 million in research grants, from industry, from EU funding sources and from national funding sources.

Fill out the form below to submit your contact info. (You must be age 18 or older to attend.) Please note that submitting this form does not guarantee you a seat—but we’ll try our best. We’ll also keep your contact info on file to let you know about future classes! 

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The #gilttech team includes many avid readers. Here are some of our favorite recent reads, both brand-new and not-as-new. Perfect for the beach, for long flights to vacation destinations, or for an afternoon relaxing at the park. (Even if you’re a cat, you can still enjoy the dog days of summer.)

Good Strategy, Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters, Richard Rumelt (Crown Business, 2011)
A very well-written book that defines strategy in the light of creating execution plans that provide realistic paths to achieving goals. The book is great in distinguishing goals from strategy, and illustrates its point with real-life examples from both successful and unsuccessful companies. After reading this book, it is impossible to think of strategy the same way. Be warned! —Michael Bryzek, Gilt co-founder and CTO

Neptune’s Brood, Charles Stross (Ace Books, 2014)
Charles Stross rarely disappoints, but this book is truly bananas in scope. Yet it’s still accessible to the casual sci-fi fan. Set a couple thousand years in the future, the book presents humanity as extinct. In the place of humans are metahumans, who are descendants of robots. The story follows Krina Alizond-114, a metahuman, on her journey across space to search for her lost sister Ana. Naturally, all sorts of adventures and intrigue ensue, which I’d rather not spoil here. While the story itself is terrific, Stross’ vision of a future without humans as we know them, and his detailed backdrops, are really what whisk the reader away from reality. —Matt Isaacs, Senior Software Engineer/Mobile team

The Glory of Their Times, Lawrence S. Ritter (Harper Perennial, 2010)
Summer has always belonged to baseball, and The Glory of Their Times can help you remember why. Inspired by the death of Ty Cobb in 1961, Ritter decided to do the rounds and talk to all the great players of that era who were still alive. In doing so, he has preserved first-person accounts—from several points of view—of plays like the infamous “Bonehead” Merkle, which cost the Giants the 1908 pennant. (The play is named after Fred Merkle—at the time, just 19 years old—who didn’t manage to step on second base while the crowd was rushing the field.) Or maybe you will prefer stories like the one about Hans Lobert racing a horse around the bases to see who was faster, man or beast? Baseball has come so far that it all seems like fiction. This book is an oral history of what baseball was like during the turn of the century, and delivers a feeling none of us could ever have known otherwise—and might not have ever believed, either.  —Justin Riservato, Director of Program Management

Pranksters: Making Mischief in the Modern World, Kembrew McLeod (NYU Press, 2014)
If you enjoy collecting trivia about wiseacres and eccentrics, this is the perfect summer read. Memorable characters in this historical survey of world “pranksterature” include George Psalmanazar, an 18th century character who claimed to be from the island of Formosa but was probably from France. Psalmanazar created his own language, wrote false history books about his “native land” that achieved mass popularity in Europe, and ate what McLeod calls “bloody food” in the company of British high society. Another, more recent prankster is comedian Alan Abel, whose Society for Indecency to Naked Animals advocated for animals to wear clothing and became notorious enough to attract the attention of the major network news. Go here to read an excerpt from the book’s first chapter, which highlights the antics of one of the most famous pranksters in American history (it’s not Ashton Kutcher). —Lauri Apple, Tech Evangelist

#Girlboss, Sophia Amoruso (Portfolio Hardcover, 2014)
Nasty Gal CEO Sophia Amoruso begins her book by sharing highlights from her troubled teen years, when she hitchhiked her way up the West Coast, avoided college and took jobs that offered zero opportunities for advancement. A hernia sidelines her for a spell, which she spends—as she puts it—“dicking” around the Internet. She opens an eBay store, putting her passion for vintage clothing to work—and her enterprise takes off. Sophia spends her days and nights scouring thrift shops, photographing her finds and selling them at up to a 150% profit. Eventually her business evolves into Nasty Gal, the $100-million-plus business that has become a household-name ecommerce brand. Throughout the book, Amoruso owns up to her mistakes and highlights the lessons she learned along the way. #Girlboss doesn’t offer much insight into the secrets to success, or beat the reader over the head with motivational slogans, but it does hold its own as a remarkable story of dedication and triumph. Perhaps what’s most intriguing about Amoruso is that her success was solely based on her finding something she loved to do and turning it into a career. She doesn’t preach about hunting down a mentor or needing to take this or that course, but offers straight-up common sense about living and learning (things she was forced to do at a young age). Given its title, you might expect #Girlboss to be full of feminist mantras, or to follow the style of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In (which highlights all the ways to “have it all” while pointing out all the persistent gender discrepancies that make “having it all” seem impossible). But Amoruso tackles these assumptions early in the book by presenting a fresh and modern take to her generation: I believe the best way to honor the past and future of women’s rights is by getting shit done. Instead of sitting around and talking about how much I care, I’m going to kick ass and prove it.” — Lauren Ribando, Email Engineer

The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov (originally published in 1966)
Every summer I read this classic of Russian literature, written between 1928 and 1940 but unpublished until 1967 (when people could finally handle it, I guess). I love it because I still can’t believe that anyone wrote something so surreal and surprising under the guise of “Russian Literature.” This book is intended to be satire, but let’s face it: You are going to miss most of the cultural and political references because you didn’t live in the Soviet Union during the 1930s or study Stalinist history. But it’s still a lot of fun to read about what happens when the Devil and his giant talking cat decide to visit Moscow and mess with people, and how the bureaucrats try—and fail—to control them with paperwork and red tape. —Justin Riservato

Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance, Atul Gawande (Picador USA, 2008)
Atul Gawande is both a surgeon and a writer for the New Yorker. This book starts with an exploration of the questions, “We are the best surgeons in the world at what we do … or are we? How would we know?” I found this book to be a great example of how to think about really understanding behaviors, and how to prove what is actually happening in the world through measurement. One of the great stories in the book focuses on cystic fibrosis and how that disease can be beaten—once you measure the right things. —Michael Bryzek

The Bohemians: Mark Twain and the San Francisco Writers Who Reinvented American Literature, Ben Tarnoff (Penguin, 2014)
Back in the 1860s, San Francisco was a tiny, start-up-free town populated by post-Gold Rushers, a growing number of immigrants, and—as this fascinating new book by Ben Tarnoff describes—a quartet of ambitious writers who struggled to find their own voices. At the head of this group, at least at first, was moody clotheshorse Bret Harte, who achieved success only to transform into a drunken, egomaniacal self-parody (if he were a modern-day celebrity, he’d be caught DWI and asking the arresting officer, “do you know who I am?”). While Harte’s career and reputation sink, his friend Mark Twain transcends a panoply of self-destructive early-manhood habits (making enemies by writing falsehoods and uncouth articles, contemplating suicide, recklessly going broke) to achieve fame and respect as a storyteller and public speaker (marriage to a wealthy, stabl woman only helps). Rounding out the four were poets Charles Warren Stoddard and Ina Coolbrith, whose self-doubts and complicated life circumstances kept them from reaching the level of mainstream success that Twain or Harte achieved. - Lauri Apple

Photo by Josh Antonio