Something special every day: Foster students provide solutions to zulily

Zulily1
zulily, the darling e-commerce flash-sale company based in Seattle has had exceptional growth since emerging on the market in 2010. “zulily has grown substantially, exhibiting astronomical growth over the last five years. zulily reported fourth quarter and full year 2014 net sales at $1.2 billion, up a staggering 72 percent year-over-year.”¹

They have cornered the “mom” market by focusing on products for women and children with a focus on delighting their customers with short-term (3-days) sales on unique products from both boutique brands as well as name-brand fashion. In recent years, zulily has begun to expand into related categories – such as homewares. Encouraged by their powerful e-tailing platform and passionate customer base, zulily continues to focus on delivering an exceptional customer experience for all of its customers, each and every day. The Foster School of Business partnered with zulily to explore the critical question through the Strategy Development Case Competition: Where should zulily focus their growth and expansion?

Each quarter the Foster School partners with a Seattle-based company to develop a customized business case as part of a required capstone course (MGMT430) for all graduating seniors. The case, written by Sadie Raney, Foster MBA Alumna (’14) and overseen by the course coordinator, Rich McPherson presents an urgent business issue in a condensed format.

Nearly 60 teams of students presented their solutions to panels of
judges composed of alumni, friends of the business school and zulily leaders. Although the case challenge centered on expanding addressable markets, the winning team built a compelling argument for remaining true to the zulily brand and their core customer – mom by developing a rewards programs. The winning team highlighted that there are still opportunities to gain market share with moms throughout the United States. Their solution was backed by their business finding – 80% of future revenue comes from 20% of existing customers.

Zulily2

The winning team hard at work at zulily’s headquarters

Members of the winning team were: Kevin Cruz, Kayla Jedele, Erinna O’Brien, Phi Pham, and Bryanna Woo, had the opportunity to present to the Customer Experience team at zulily headquarters a few days after the competition – and a few days before graduating! The general consensus of the senior leaders of the students’ “bloom” rewards program (featuring a flat membership fee to enable customers’ early access to specific daily sales and free shipping on a monthly basis) was that it is ‘simple, clean, and easily understood.’ Kayla Jedele “loved actually presenting to zulily employees both in the competition and during our office visit because it meant they cared about our work. They were just as excited and invested as we were which really enriched the whole experience.”

Erinna O’Brien said of the experience overall: “I had the most incredible experience at Foster doing this case competition with my team. The key to our success was trusting one another, not being afraid to speak up and capitalizing on our best skills.”

¹Brohan, Mark. “Zulily sales spike 72% in 2014.” www.internetretailer.com. 12 February 2015. Used content from earnings press release hosted on zulily: http://investor.zulily.com/releases.cfm