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Insider Q&A: Zulily looks beyond children’s clothing

NEW YORK  — Zulily has gone from selling mostly children’s clothing to offering items from pillows to designer purses to chicken coops. Now, the site geared to young moms has its eye on doggy treats, electronics and goods that need to be reordered frequently, like toilet paper and paper towels.

The site, which is owned by the parent company of home shopping network QVC, has also been creating videos through Facebook Live, showing its followers how to use hair extensions, makeup or other products it sells.

Not everything has changed at Zulily. While some flash-sale sites have stumbled, it is still deal-focused and adds new products every morning that typically disappear 72 hours later, making shoppers feel the need to buy an item before it’s gone. It had 6.1 million active customers at the end of March, up 24 percent from the year before.

The site’s chief merchant and interim president, Lori Twomey, talked with The Associated Press about other moves at Zulily, why it launched a credit card and how it’s using Facebook to connect with shoppers. The questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length.

Q: How is Zulily different than Amazon?

A: I think about Amazon as a place to go when I need something. Zulily is more about getting up at 6 a.m., getting my coffee and going to Zulily to see what it’s selling. The shopper doesn’t know that she’s coming to Zulily to buy something, but she knows she wants to see what’s on the site.

Q: Is there something you wouldn’t sell on Zulily?

A: We haven’t said no to a lot. We’re not going to sell live chickens, but we’ll sell chicken coops. We’re not in the business of selling cars, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that we might not one day decide to do that.

Q: Do customers shop on their phones or computers?

A: Seventy percent of our business comes from mobile.

Q: What new categories are you looking to add?

A: We’re just starting to look at the pet business and serve up the products that customers are looking for — collars, food, treats, leashes, toys, beds. I want to expand our electronics business and we are expanding our health and beauty business, such as fragrances, skincare and makeup.

Q: Zulily launched a credit card last fall. Why?

A: It helps us with loyalty. We can give customers things like free shipping promotions or we might give them an extra discount. We immediately got 100,000 credit card holders by the end of the year.

Q: Zulily has been posting a lot of Facebook Live videos. Why?

A: One thing that’s really important for us this year is to reach the shopper where she is. We’ve done 500 segments on Facebook Live, reaching more than 50 million customers. It’s all hosted by Zulily employees.

Q: There’s a Facebook Messenger chatbot, too. Why do that?

A: It’s customer service, you don’t have to call in and chat with a representative. It sends out order notifications. It kind of gives them that one-on-one interaction.

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