Customer-Centric Approach Drives Zulily's Growth
Zulily was founded in January 2010 by two retail veterans, Darrell Cavens and Mark Vadon, both of whom at that time were at a point in their lives where discussions about kids — whether their own or their friends’ — dominated the conversation. So the two decided to create a unique online retail business that would better serve them and others like them. Cavens gave a keynote presentation this week at the Shop.org Annual Summit in Seattle detailing how the company has grown from online startup into one of the hottest brands in the retail industry — and how customers are driving that success.
Zulily offers daily merchandise deals geared towards moms and their kids. It's fairly different than any other e-commerce businesses in that the merchandise is totally new to the site each day. Roughly 9,000 new products are added to the site each day, the work of Zulily's 400-plus merchandising professionals on staff.
"I tell our staff to think of it like a newspaper — they're publishing an entirely new site every day," Cavens said. "They have a passion for storytelling and product curation, and are delivering something special every day."
Zulily's website experience is based on a browse-and-discover approach rather than a directed product search like shoppers get on sites such as Amazon.com. Customers get entertainment out of the freshness of the site, Cavens said, coming back over and over to see what products that day will bring. The site was designed for moms — at least initially. Zulily is expanding into additional product categories other than children's, including women's apparel, home, crafts, pets, etc.
The edge of the brand has been stretched further, and this expansion has been entirely customer led, Cavens said.
In addition to adding new product categories, Zulily's business is expanding into new sales channels. Mobile has become an integral part of the retailer's business, with nearly half (49 percent) of all purchases coming via mobile.