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If you’ve never shopped Zulily — a flash sale website and app — go take a look … You’ll notice right away all the limited-time deals for up to 75% off well-known brands like Nike and Coach. Plus they have tons of other home decor, toy, and furniture items for well off the retail price. So how can prices possibly be this low? Is Zulily legit, or is there some sort of catch?
The truth is, Zulily isn’t your online typical shopping experience, so you should know what to expect when you place an order. But as far as legitimacy, they’re definitely no fly-by-night operation. In fact, their parent company owns some of the biggest names in the home shopping market.
Let’s dig into how Zulily can sell stuff so cheap, some common consumer complaints against them (yep, they have a few), and how to successfully shop the site without frustration.
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Zulily uses a low (price) and slow (shipping) approach.
So how is Zulily so cheap? The main reason you’ll pay lower prices is because you agree to be OK with a much slower than normal delivery timeline. Zulily basically says this on their website: “The secret to our deals is in our shipping. We wait and bundle items from multiple orders, using fewer boxes. Then, we pass the savings on to you. Sometimes, it takes a little longer, but our customers say it’s worth the wait.”
Here’s how it works. Let’s say there’s a limited deal for Skechers shoes. You’ll have to place an order in a specific time window. The faster you move, the better chance you’ll have to find your size and color preference. With some deals, inventory will move fast, so don’t delay! Once the sale ends, Zulily compiles all the orders and then sends it to Skechers. Skechers then ships the bulk order to Zulily, who ships it out to everyone who bought the deal.
Because Zulily doesn’t have to keep a large amount of inventory on hand, they can keep costs low.
Related: Wanna skip to the good stuff? Check out our best Zulily deals of the day.
Zulily started selling kids’ clothes in 2009 — and then blew up in popularity.
With their headquarters in Seattle, Washington, Zulily originally launched in 2009 selling just kids’ clothing. Their founders Darrell Cavens and Mark Vadon took the company public in 2013. In 2015 they got acquired by the Qurate Retail Group for $2.4 billion. Not familiar with Qurate? They also own the popular home shopping brands QVC and HSN.
Today, Zulily works with 15,000 brands, including popular lifestyle ones, designer names, and many smaller, boutique sellers. They also claim to have over 5 million active customers who buy from their site. For comparison’s sake, the company who owns Rue La La and Gilt has about 1 million active customers.
Lots of people swear by Zulily, but some policies annoy customers.
Zulily has an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau and got their accreditation in 2010. Though they had 62 consumer complaints in the last year, the company responded to all of them to try to find a resolution.
On the other hand, they have pretty lackluster reviews on TrustPilot, with an average rating of 2.1 out of 5 stars. The most common complaints are about:
- The company’s return policy: Honestly, it’s not great, especially because you don’t get refunds, only store credit. You also have to pay shipping costs on most returns.
- Shipping times: Let’s put it this way; if you need a gift for someone this weekend — or even next weekend — Zulily probably won’t come through.
- Product quality: Zulily doesn’t actually make their products, but they work with 15,000 brands, including many smaller, boutique sellers. If you order from a never-heard-of brand and can’t try things on, there’s going to be some level of risk involved.
Let’s break down the things that annoy Zulily customers the most.
Shipping takes a while at Zulily.
If Amazon Prime and Walmart’s 2-day shipping have got you spoiled, the glacial turnaround on a Zulily order might have you wondering if the Pony Express is making the delivery. Most U.S.-based orders take five to seven days to get to you after they leave a Zulily warehouse. International orders can take nine to 14 days. But remember, that’s why you pay less with Zulily.
When placing an order, you should always pay special attention to the estimated shipping dates on the checkout screen. If things get delayed further, Zulily will email you.
TIP: You may notice that some items have a rocket icon. Those can ship out faster from a Zulily warehouse, but you’ll pay a small fee, which may or may sound appealing.
The Zulily return policy isn’t very customer-friendly.
Refunds at Zulily generally come back to you as store credit applied to your Zulily.com account, and you won’t see the credit until about five business days after they receive and process your return. The list of items you can’t return at all deserves some attention (though most of these make sense: swimwear, intimate apparel, personalized items, personal hygiene items, and food). But makeup, furniture, heavy/bulky items, some electronics, and some luxury goods also appear on the list of nonreturnables.
Anything you return to Zulily must get sent back “unused, unaltered, and in their original packaging with tags attached,” as per the Zulily return policy. In other words, if you often get buyer’s remorse, make sure you don’t toss out packaging or tags with Zulily.
The other big turnoff? They charge a return fee of $4.95, though you can include more than one item in the package and the fee stays the same.
On the positive side, if you received a damaged or defective item, Zulily’s customer service has been known to try hard to make things right, so give them a call. I have it on good authority (my sister, who’s a super Zulily shopper devotee!) that they’ll usually just tell you to keep or donate the item, and then they’ll give you a refund. And sometimes even an additional $5 or $10 for your troubles! But this type of resolution will vary since it’s at their discretion, so don’t quote us on it.
So … is Zulily legit?
Whether or not you think their policies stink, as far as legitimacy goes, the answer to “is Zulily legit” is yes. All of their fine print is actually pretty transparent and clearly explained on their website, so you shouldn’t have many surprises. If you’d rather buy from an online retailer who allows for more flexible returns and faster shipping, then you’re probably better off shopping at other online clothing stores or sites like Temu.
Our advice? Shop Zulily strategically so you can avoid the hassle and cost of having to return items. Unlike the Amazon mindset of “let me order these five things and I’ll just send back the ones I don’t like,” with Zulily, it’s best to stick with deals from brands that you already know or trust. Then prepare to wait a bit longer for your delivery.
If you follow that game plan, you’ll score some very competitive prices and get a thrill when your package arrives … even if it is three weeks after you ordered it.
Related: We found all the stores with same-day delivery and free pickup when you order online.