Brands such as Amazon and Walmart might come to mind for customers trying to find low prices online. Now Zulily wants to be part of that conversation, too.
The Seattle-based online retailer unveiled a new price comparison feature today that shows the cost of identical items sold on Amazon and Walmart. The idea is to demonstrate that Zulily offers the same or lower prices as two of its fiercest competitors in the online retail industry.
Zulily is also offering a price-matching promise for items that are higher-priced on its site compared to Amazon or Walmart.
The strategy is part of a “pilot” that lasts until Dec. 19, said John Lohnas, Zulily’s chief merchant who joined the company in May after nearly a decade at Amazon where he ran apparel and footwear businesses.
“There’s a general perception that Walmart and Amazon are price leaders, in some respects,” he said in an interview. Those two companies are also the U.S. market leaders in apparel and footwear sales.
A report from Wakefield Research called “The Zulily Price Comparison Analysis” showed that Zulily offered lower prices than Amazon or Walmart on identical items 97 percent of the time. The study used 1,000 online price comparisons across categories such as women’s, home & hardlines, kids, and men’s through a selection of randomized items.
“We believe it will drive higher conversion and higher traffic, but those are really just outputs of building trust with our customer base,” Lohnas said of the new features.
Zulily could use the extra bump. The company saw revenue decrease 13 percent to $363 million during the second quarter, the largest year-over-year dip since the company was acquired by QVC parent Qurate in 2015.
Zulily’s active customer base also fell by 3 percent year-over-year to 6.2 million, and has decreased for two straight quarters.
Amid those declines, the company made an undisclosed number of layoffs in August as part of a restructuring. Zulily employed 1,300 people in Seattle as of January 2019; the headcount is now around 1,000.
Tech industry vets Darrell Cavens and Mark Vadon launched Zulily in 2009 and found success with a daily deals site selling products for moms and kids. But the company has been working on rebranding its e-commerce offerings as of late.
Lohnas said Zulily plans to expand the product selection on its site to include “core products” from larger national brands that weren’t previously available. Zulily is also “prioritizing some large tech projects,” Lohnas said, as it develops new ways for customers to discover items, particularly on mobile.
He added that Zulily is focused on “the third way to shop.”
“It’s much more about the experience and engagement, and less about transactional shopping,” Lohnas explained. “After spending nine years at Amazon, that was really appealing to me. It’s a unique way of connecting with shoppers in what we think of as the third way to experience shopping in an online environment.”
Lohnas isn’t the only ex-Amazon talent now heading up decisions at Zulily. Jeff Yurcisin, a former Amazon executive and Shopbop CEO, took over as CEO last year after Cavens officially stepped down from the role.
In January, Zulily inked a jersey sponsorship deal with Sounders FC, a men’s professional soccer team in Seattle, as it also rolled out a new logo as part of a rebrand.
The company has about 3,000 people around the world at offices in Seattle, Columbus, Ohio, Reno, Nev., Bethlehem, Pa., and Shenzhen, China.