NYKG Meets: Brian Doherty - Manager, Integrated Marketing & Partnerships, Zulily

By Nikolai Lien


September 6, 2019

Hi Brian, it's great to catch up. What attracted you to NY KnowGO?

It’s no secret that both the retail and marketing spaces are at an inflection point. There has been no better time to be both a consumer and marketer. Consumers have more choice than ever before, and marketers can now use emerging technology and mobile to reach customers in new and better way, 24/7.

NY KnowGO attracted me because of its focus on how to serve consumers better through the continuously evolving world of co-op marketing - what we call integrated marketing. This resonated with my company, Zulily. We’re an online retailer dedicated to curating the best deals for our customers in a compelling mobile experience.

My team is all about having our customer be our north star. We want to serve that customer with the right message at the right time on the right channel – in a way that feels authentic, additive, and focused on connection, not transaction.

"I’m looking forward to meeting other brands with similar mindsets: brands that want to truly connect with shoppers."

Can you offer some background on what Zulily does and your role there?

Zulily launches a new "store" every 24 hours and uses a minimal inventory model

I lead Zulily’s integrated marketing and partnerships team, where we work to build bridges between brands and millions of customers around the world. We work with brands on campaigns designed to achieve a variety of goals, whether it’s product/brand testing, expanding and refining customer segmentation, or scaling digital marketing efforts.

We’re able to do this work because of Zulily’s uniqueness in retail. We have a minimal inventory model that helps us deliver deals around the globe, and we launch a new “store” every day. That means every morning, millions of customers around the globe can open their app to see 100+ sales that span thousands of products, typically lasting 72 hours. We personalize our customer experiences via data science and machine learning – customers trust us to tell them a great story about how our products can add to their lives.

What is "discovery shopping" and how does Zulily capitalize on it?

Zulily began as a flash sales site focused on mothers and children

Our high-velocity retail model encourages what we call “discovery” shopping – fun shopping that is all about entertainment and connection. Customers come to us to browse and to get inspired. They are open to trying new brands and products, as it is a fun experience.

Zulily started as a flash sales site primarily serving moms,babies, and kids. But today we’ve expanded our model to serve millions of shoppers around the world - they treat shopping as a fun break they can slip in to during their busy day.

Our customer is open to buying everything from furniture to appliances; from snacks to men’s apparel. And, they’re digitally savvy: 74% of Zulily’s orders come from a mobile device.

"Zulily’s USP comes from how interconnected our teams are. The shopping experience is seamless from a customer perspective, but it takes tightly interwoven merchandising,technology, marketing, and operations teams to create a platform that customers engage with, connect with, and ultimately trust."

How do you help advertisers participate through Zulily?

We can help advertisers in several ways. Ultimately, we work with clients to test and scale their efforts with mobile-savvy customers - all of whom are open to discovering new brands and products. Here are some examples of what we do:

·       Run sampling programs to encourage consideration and purchase;

·       Design and create brand landing pages where storytelling, demonstration, testing or acquisition can occur

·       Spotlight email, our homepage, category pages,relevant other product pages, etc.

·       Leverage Zulily’s social presence and strength

·       Create content, video, product & lifestyle photography to engage

·       Sub-target and geo-target ideal audience

·       Solicit customer feedback quizzes/ surveys from real-time shopper audience

How does Zulily integrate co-op marketing funds with its brand partners?

Because of our unique model, advertisers often use market development co-op funds with our programs. However, with some partnerships, brands might use some co-op funds to drive to another retailer. For example, a CPG product might drive to a specific brick and mortar retailer and use those funds to do so. Or an appliance manufacturer could encourage purchase at a home improvement store and again use those dedicated co-op funds.

"Because of our unique model, advertisers often use market development co-op funds with our programs."

How do you use channels like search marketing effectively, given your inventory changes regularly?

At Zulily, our entire marketing program encourages customers to come back every day and engage with Zulily on mobile, whether it’s through a customized email, push notification,or paid and organic social media platforms.

Technology is core to our business. Our teams build much of the technology used by marketing,merchandising and more to do their day-to-day work – including the digital marketing at scale we do with our time-limited sales model.

Teams test and try ads quickly, employing in-house technology, machine learning and data science to move quickly and scale efforts when we can.

What does a successful sampling program look like?

Customer engagement is all about creating a great experience that helps the customer discover and try something new. Sampling programs are simple: they start with a product that’s ideally one of those “if they try it, they’ll buy it” experiences. Next, you combine this product with a compelling story card to create a controlled experience; finally, you deliver it into the homes of your most likely audience. Pretty simple, but not always easy… having the right story, messaging, and CTA matter quite a bit – it’s also one of the reasons we encourage a survey with a Zulily Store Credit as a sweepstakes prize: we want customers to tell us what they think of the sample (pro or con) and answer a few other relevant questions to give actionable and insightful information to us and our partners.

Why would you say discovery shopping is so important for the future of eCommerce?

Innovation in retail and marketing has led to more personalized shopping experiences

It’s my belief all the innovation in retail and marketing - especially with the push towards increasingly personalized experiences – is all about returning to an era of retail where shopkeepers knew customers at the 1:1 level. They knew your favorite products, would make suggestions based on what you liked, and anticipated important milestones: graduations, birthdays, and so on.

That level of curation, the ability to help customers discover the next best thing they didn’t even know they wanted or needed, is the future of eCommerce because in that model, brands can truly build engaged relationships with customers at scale.

"That level of curation, the ability to help customers discover the next best thing they didn’t even know they wanted or needed, is the future of eCommerce because in that model, brands can truly build engaged relationships with customers at scale."

How can your customers help you refine your product, brand, and positioning?

We keep a close eye on the feedback our customers share with us from a variety of channels: customer service, social media, in-app feedback,and more.

Marketing, merchandising, technology,and operations are constantly working together, analyzing data and customer feedback to improve merchandise selection and increase the customers’ overall experience on the app; and as a data-driven organization, we treat the process as iterative.

NY KnowGO is back for 2019. If you like our website,why not follow us on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter?

LinkedIn: @NYKnowGo
Twitter: @NYKnowGo_Event

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