I had the opportunity to tour Ideeli‘s SoHo office today to get a sense of the company’s culture and how it plans to compete with competitors like Gilt Groupe, RueLaLa and HauteLook. Like the high-end products Ideeli sells to its 4 million members, the company’s center of operations is chic and impressive.
The approximately 100 employees I saw were all impeccably dressed, casual but hip, working hard but pausing occasionally to chat and laugh. I even caught a glimpse of Ideeli CEO Paul Hurley’s dog as he freely roamed the open space between the office floor and the conference room.
“We only allow four dogs a day at the office,” said Neeraj Sharma, director of loyalty at Ideeli. Unfortunately, I didn’t ask how the dog-in-the-office rotation worked because we were in the midst of discussing whether or not Sharma felt threatened by Amazon.com’s recent MyHabit.com launch.
“We’re not threatened. The launch is validation for the industry,” he said.
With so many companies entering the flash sales marketplace, Sharma said it’s important for Ideeli to continually innovate and communicate with customers. Sharma referenced Ideeli’s recent partnership with Voyage Privé to offer luxury travel deals to consumers as one example of his company’s innovation. “We also recently launched live chat,” he said.
When asked if Ideeli would ever move away from offering only high-end products, Sharma shook his head and said emphatically, “We will never be Middle America.” The company will continue to focus on the $100,000 household, he said.
“So we shouldn’t expect to see Old Navy shirts appearing on the site?” I asked, wondering if he could read the buttons on my short-sleeved mustard-yellow button-down.
“No,” he laughed.
Sharma’s point shouldn’t be misinterpreted as snobby — despite triggering my own mustard-shirt self-consciousness — because the point of Ideeli, it seems to me, is to make high-end products available to cost-conscious consumers, rather than forcing consumers to go above their means to make lavish purchases. Perhaps that concept is why we’ve seen so many flash sales and daily deals sites launch in the past few months.
“Sure, the space is crowded,” said Sharma. “But if you’re working with the right partners and making the right offers, your customers will be happy.”
Now, about the dog-in-the-office rotation…