As a customer-obsessed company, we want to make sure each of our customers experience the perfect order, so that we drive repeat business and guarantee satisfaction. As such, we’re continually focused on unlocking the next wave of operational efficiencies and improving quality and speed for our customer.
We recently launched an enhanced shopping experience to become a more holistic, end-to-end partner for the vendor community, while still meeting our customers’ expectations when it comes to shopping, fulfillment and arrival on their doorstep. We continue to focus on providing customers with great value and exceptional finds through a flash sales model, but we’ve added a new, always-on everyday offering to fulfil more of their wants and needs.
Doing do, however, requires flexibility within our receiving and shipping process due to shifts in type of product and velocity.
A point of differentiation in our shipping model is that we are making shipping decisions at point of ship versus point of order for both inbound and outbound packages. This makes us unique, flexible and dynamic in our delivery methods compared to other traditional retailers, who are structured around point of order.
Ultimately, this allows us to be nimble and remain focused on providing a wide variety of desired products to our customers. We can consolidate inventory after an event (eliminating waste), we can buy inventory, we can host inventory on consignment, or we can facilitate drop-shipping from brands. By supporting all these ways of doing business, we create the most opportunity to get great deals to our customers. At the same, time, we offer more ways for brands to work with us – creating convenience for them.
With three different shipping options, we create value for brands and customers through the diverse ways we can do business:
Vendors often hold their inventory until a customer places an order, then we send a purchase order to our vendor, and the items are sent to one of our fulfillment centers (McCarran, NV, Lockbourne, OH) to package and ship to our customer.
As a company, we obsess over consolidation and focus on getting product into our fulfillment centers as quickly as possible. Our U.S. fulfillment centers are located in Columbus, OH and Reno, NV, and our goal is to pack as many items in an outbound package possible, which allows for efficiency in delivering product to our customers.
We also view this as a positive from a carbon footprint standpoint, by reducing waste and the amount of materials used.
Our proprietary Warehouse Management System enables us to track inbound and outbound packages, to prioritize consolidation, and to drive the down cost to ship, which we pass along in savings to our customer. This means if a customer orders multiple items or has multiple orders over a few days, we consolidate as much as we can into as few packages as possible.
This practice is unusual in the industry and incredibly complex to execute. Our engineers work side-by-side with our warehouse associates, building them the tools they need to build efficiencies and optimize consolidation of vendor shipments. In fact, our fulfillment centers turn on average 40-50 times per year as compared to most retailers, which turn 4-5 times per year.
Not only does consolidation reduce your shipping costs; it also reduces waste, which we know is a top environmental concern among our core customers, moms. In fact, 94% of parents say being eco-friendly was important to them, and 90% of say it’s important that their deliveries come in as few packages as possible when online shopping1.
While we work with national brands like Levi’s®, adidas®, LEGO®, and more, we also work with smaller specialty boutique brands, like Oopsie Daisy & Friends. As we continued to grow as a company, we realized the need to build infrastructure for the smaller boutique brands.
This service, known as Triple Z, leverages our infrastructure for specialty retailers and boutique brands to sell on Zulily. We provide these brands with the logistical resources they need to deliver on the breadth and depth of product, but also are keenly aware that delivery speed is key.
To ensure that all our vendors are able to sustainably grow with us, brands have the opportunity to use our fulfillment centers for the storage and shipping of product they sell through Zulily as well as through their other retail channels. Strategically curated products are kept in-stock at Zulily fulfillment centers, which means products are featured on Zulily’s site and mobile app more frequently, and then shipped to customers more quickly – up to 12 days faster. These items across our customer experience are designated with a rocket ship icon.
With Triple Z services, vendors can:
- Route shipments to Zulily’s fulfillment center
- Setup daily, weekly, monthly invoicing schedules
- Review and download the catalog of your available Triple Z inventory
- Create sample and return outbound shipments
- View real-time sales data and outbound tracking details
“Triple Z has been a lifesaver,” reports Heidi England, owner of Oopsie Daisy & Friends. “[Triple Z] has allowed us to concentrate on what we’re good at – designing, creating, and curating – and they handle all the warehouse and shipping for us!”
Now, with always-available inventory, more items will be marked with a rocket icon, which means they ship out sooner, in 1-3 days. For vendors, the benefit is they’ll be able to ship directly from their warehouses to our customers, saving time and money.
Drop ship is when a vendor ships items directly to our customers versus shipping to the Zulily fulfillment centers, which helps minimize warehouse costs and creates a more direct relationship between the vendor and customer.
Generally, we dropship four categories of product that require more flexibility within our business model, including:
- Large or bulky objects, i.e. a piece of furniture or larger toy, which would not easily be received and cross docked.
- Customizable pieces, i.e. personalized items with a unique name, date or image that are a unit of one that are more effectively sent directly from the vendor personalizing the product.
- Consumables such as perishable products (i.e. food).
- Hazmat items i.e. perfumes and colognes, devices with batteries, etc.
Since we evolved our business model, we’re utilizing drop ship in more intentional ways, lighting up new product assortments and opportunities with our key vendor partners.
We are driven by shipping to customers, not shelves, and our investment in this space is a critical piece of what allows us to compete in a competitive marketplace. Whether you’re launching a new brand or product line, selling in-season product, or moving inventory, we tailor our approach to meet your specific needs throughout the year.
Interested in selling on Zulily? Let’s grow your business together. Get started here
1Results are from a nationally representative survey conducted by ENGINE INSIGHTS among a sample of 1,002 parents of children ages 0-17 on February 16 – 21, 2021.