Zulily: Rue La La for Moms & Kids or More?

baby clothes
It’s no secret around Compete that I love to shop and that I am particularly fond of all of the online deal sites. I have flaunted my Marc Jacobs bargains from Gilt.com and timed meetings around my 11 AM ET Rue La La.com email previewing the day’s sales. Over the Holidays, I very happily discovered another fabulous site—perfect for busy moms like me: Zulily.com.  Zulily markets itself as an online store carrying the best brands at the lowest prices on apparel, gear and other goodies for moms, babies and kids.  I heard about Zulily via good old fashioned word of mouth from a fellow mom who described the site as “Rue La La for moms and kids”. Apparently, I am not the only one who has discovered this new site. Upon logging into Compete.com, I quickly found that Zulily is making a splash in the online deal site world.

unique visitors to online deal sites ruelala gilt zulily

• Launched just a year ago, Zulily attracted more than 726,000 unique visitors to its site in December 2010, not far behind Rue La La’s 850,000 unique visitors
• Zulily posted a year-over-year growth rate of 9,500% as compared to Rue La La’s 23% and Gilt’s 64%. Yes, Zulily is coming off a much smaller base, but this is still a very impressive growth rate considering it has only been around for 12 months

The different trend lines for each company made me wonder:

• What did Gilt do over the Summer (May 2010 to August 2010) to help drive growth in traffic while Rue La La and Zulily stayed relatively flat?
• Conversely, what happened in September and October to Gilt while Rue La La and Zulily grew?
• Finally, what best practices, if any, did Gilt leverage at the Holiday season to see the nice bump in traffic while the other two players’ traffic declined between October and December?

Aside from traditional word of mouth, Digital Marketing plays a key role for online retailers so I decided to take a peak at Search trends to see if I could uncover some findings.

I took the leader, Gilt, and compared it to the “growth engine”, Zulily, and plotted Search referral traffic.
search engine referrals to online deal sites
•Zulily is closing the gap on Search referred traffic—In December 2010, 23% of Zulily’s traffic was referred via Search (paid and natural) as compared to 19% of Gilt.com’s traffic
•Zulily’s increase in Search referred traffic in November 2010 was largely due to Paid Search with a 33% month-over-month increase in Paid Search referrals
•Zulily’s Paid Search referrals declined significantly between November and December while Gilt’s Paid Search referrals increased more than 30% in that same time period

I don’t know about you, but I was surely still looking for last minute deals in December. It seems Zulily’s Search tactics were effective in November but the pull-back in December impacted traffic to the site while Gilt’s big push in December helped it close the year with on an upswing.

Another key component to Search marketing is the Branded/non-Branded effectiveness. I typed in a Branded Search for Zulily since I wasn’t sure how to spell it after my friend gave me the name. However, Zulily is capturing a good amount of traffic from non-branded searches and had I still been in the “Baby phase”, it seems from the below chart that I would have easily come across the site.

Zulily Top Traffic Driving Search Terms, Q4 2010
(Top Search Terms, in order, including Paid and Natural referrals)

1. Zulily
2. zulilly
3. Zuilley
4. Baby clothes
5. Baby girl clothes
6. Baby outerwear
7. pajamas one day shipping
8. wooden soldier
9. children’s clothing
10. Zilily inc

•Most importantly, I was happy to see that “zulilly” was a top Branded Search term since my daughter’s name is Lilly with 2 L’s
•Kidding aside, 3 of the top 10 Zulily traffic driving Search terms included the word “Baby”
•When I used Compete.com to look at what other sites benefited from the many people who search online for “Baby clothes”, I was impressed to see that Zulily is the 2nd most popular site, or #2 destination site, behind only Carters.com and ahead of classic Brands like Ralph Lauren.

The Digital Marketing conversation wouldn’t be complete here without mention of Social Media and eMail.  Rue La La offers $10 rewards to members who refer friends to the site. Zulily has upped the ante and offers a $15 credit for every friend referred.  In addition to allowing members to easily import contacts, Zulily makes it easy to tell all friends on Facebook or Twitter.


No wonder 5% of traffic is referred via Facebook and an additional 15% through E-mail.

So, despite the fact that I no longer Search for “baby clothes” now that my kids are in elementary school, I know plenty of friends who do or who will and I’m happy to help them get some good deals. And, lucky for me, I found Zulily through a friend and during my research today, I purchased 6 Zodax antique votive cups, a JB Original Vintage Tee for my son, a Candice Ruffle Tunic for my daughter, and  several sets of my favorite flash cards from eeBoo (I always like to have gifts on hand for last minute birthday party presents). Whew!

I also bought something for my niece, but I’m hoping her mom and dad read this so I don’t want to spoil the surprise. Finally, I forwarded a fabulous deal on some gear—this time, a stroller, to a friend.

All in an evening’s work! What I didn’t have a chance to look at today are things such as:

•Cross-shopping between the online deal sites
•Demographic make-up of sites
•Intensity and engagement differences—who leads in page views/person, time spent, visits/person
•Conversion rates—are Search referred visitors more or less likely to convert than those referred through email or Direct entry
•Product interest and conversion—what types of products perform better

The topics are endless…and so are the deals! Happy shopping!!