Zulily.com is an online retailer that was founded in 2009 and is based in Seattle, Washington. The company specializes in flash sales, a business model which offers discounted products for a limited time and incites customers into making immediate purchases.
The range of products offered on Zulily is somewhat broad, but the focus is generally on merchandise for mothers, children, and infants. This includes goods ranging from clothing and accessories to toys and appliances.
In order to shop on Zulily.com, customers must create a membership by submitting their name (first and last), email address, and a personally generated password. After completing this process, shoppers can then browse the website and receive daily emails which notify them of flash sales (which Zulily calls “events”). These events open every day at 6:00am Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) and normally run for 72 hours, although the Zulily website reports that some sales are limited to only one day while others are extended beyond the usual 72-hour period.
When ordering items from Zulily, members are also required to submit their address and credit card information.
Zulily was purchased by a division of QVC in August 2015 for $2.6 billion.
Here are a list of Zulily’s policies which can be found on their website:
Payment – Zulily accepts payment from Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, Paypal, Zulily gift cards, and store credit.
Store Credit – Store credit can be earned by inviting others to join Zulily, and is only awarded when an invited individual actually joins the site and makes a purchase. Credit can not be used to purchase Zulily gift cards and expires after 18 months.
Sales Tax – Zulily charges sales tax in Washington, Nevada, and Ohio.
Shipping – Zulily claims to ship to the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, and over 100 other countries. Shipping costs within the United Starts start at $5.95, and are divided into standard, FAST (6-11 days), FASTER (4-5 days), and FASTEST (3-4 days) options. Their Terms & Conditions page claims that all delivery dates are estimates. Their FAQ and Terms & Conditions pages report that they will attempt to send all current orders in one package, yet they reserve the right to send orders in separate installments. The majority of orders are shipped through UPS or FedEX, but large items may be shipped through HomeDirectUSA. Zulily does not directly track orders for customers, but they do use outside order tracking such as Smart Post, SurePost, and Mail Innovations. Canadian orders are shipped through Canada Post and Purolator International. International Orders are shipped by way of Borderfree and their carrier, DHL.
Returns, Refunds, and Exchanges – The Zulily policies on returns and refunds are somewhat ambiguous. Following are the return, refund, and exchange policies that are clearly stated. Zulily will not return intimate clothing or “personalized items.” They claim to refund products that arrive damaged as long as they are unused, but the items must be returned within 14 days of the shipment date, and the customer is responsible for return shipping costs. They claim to be incapable of exchanging merchandise.
Zulily.com TV Commerial
Below is a transcript of a recent Zulily commercial:
I’m a mom. I’m a mom and a daughter. A sister. Entrepreneur. Musician. I’m a mom and a baker. Pediatrician. A programmer. A mom and a financial adviser. A mom and a friend.
Zulily knows that a mom is never just a mom. That’s why we offer a new selection every day… A fashion for women, styles for kids, and essentials for living. All of prices up to 70% off, because Zulily gets mom. The mom who knows the smart ways to stretch a dollar, sweet ways to dry a tear, and simple ways to get a smile.
Zulily.com, something special everyday.
Browsing reviews from around the internet, it appears that Zulily has mixed evaluations. Reviews appear to be split between glowing 5-star reviews and 1-star reviews from disgruntled consumers who are upset in relation to product quality, lengthy shipping times, and receiving incomplete orders. In addition, some customers have reported disputes over refunds and returns. In a broad analysis of online reviews, it appears they are weighted slightly toward the negative.
Zulily actually acts as a distributor. According to its How Zulily Works and FAQ pages, the company bulk orders products from its vendors after customers have submitted orders through Zulily. The vendors then ship the products to Zulily, which then distributes them to customers. The flash sales model probably makes this way of doing business plausible, yet this is also probably responsible for the accusations of excessive shipping delays.
Better Business Bureau (BBB) – Zulily is a BBB accredited business with a B rating on a scale of A+ to F. This rating fell from an A rating when I first reviewed the site, then back up to A+ again. This indicates that the company is willing to address and correct complaints from customers. There are a total of 255 closed complaints against Zulily to the BBB that have been resolved. The BBB does acknowledge some of the common complaints that have been expressed in Zulily reviews that I have read on many other websites.
On November 21, 2013, BBB recognized a pattern of complaints from consumers regarding delivery and refund issues. Consumers allege the orders they place with Zulily Inc are delivered late or are not received at all. Consumers also claim they receive incomplete orders. Consumers further allege Zulily Inc does not provide refunds as promised when they cancel, return or do not receive their orders. – BBB
There are over 310 reviews for Zulily at ResellerRatings.com, which give the site a rather dismal 2.64 (out of 10) star rating as of January 2016. It would appear that the majority of complaints relate to slow shipping.
Site Jabber has perhaps the largest collection of user ratings for Zulily, and the site receives a 2-star rating, or 20% score, which has dropped 2% from my last update in Spring 2015.
Perhaps in response to the large number of complaints regarding slow shipping, Zulily began holding a small inventory of merchandise for some popular brands in an attempt to speed up delivery times.
The Google Trends chart below shows a steady rise in Google searches for Zulily over the past several years.
Zulily.com is an online distributor which practices flash sales of products for moms, kids, and infants. Online reviews are mixed with many reported disagreements regarding quality of purchased items, erroneous orders, drawn-out shipping times, and refund issues. Although the BBB acknowledges some of these allegations, Zulily maintains an A+ rating with the Bureau, which demonstrates they are earnest in their willingness to resolve consumer grievances. Long shipping times attributed to Zulily may be due to their function as a distributor which bulk orders from dealers, which the company sought to address by keeping a small inventory on hand for many popular brands. Otherwise, before Zulily ships to customers, they must first order and receive these bulk orders from their vendors.
The company was bought by a division of QVC in 2015, and it’s not clear yet what impact this will have – if any – on the site.
Your Zulily.com Reviews
Have you used Zulily? Give me your reviews in the comments below.
Updated January 18, 2016
Originally published July 18, 2014