QVC, Zulily, and the Importance of Omnichannel Fulfillment

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Two different shopping solutions became one last week, as QVC parent company Liberty Interactive Corp. bought online retailer Zulily for an estimated $2.4 billion.

As examples of different shopping setups, QVC and Zulily are worlds apart. Together, though, they stand to boost omnichannel fulfillment options for each other's customers.

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QVC is probably the most familiar name to most, even if you don't subscribe to television as a place to purchase. The nation's most famous shopping channel has been around for decades and is not only the biggest shopping network on TV, but the second largest of any network in terms of revenue generated.

By contrast, Zulily is a small fish in the big ecommerce pond, but has nonetheless established a strong brand in online flash deals, building to $1 billion in sales annually as of 2014. Together, the two companies should combine to provide customers with the omnichannel fulfillment options that the modern market demands.

QVC and Omnichannel Fulfillment in Focus

For most consumers, delivery of orders across different channels has quickly crept into become the norm. Almost every major retailer offers some way to order online and pick up in-store, with giants like Walmart eager to leverage their bricks and mortar locations as a competitive advantage against the extensive reach of Amazon.

Factor in ordering via mobile apps, click and collect to third-party locations, and even delivery to the trunk of your car, and we start to see the extent of expectations on order fulfillment in an eCommerce world.

What the QVC connection with Zulily does is to bring together different generations of shoppers and provides them with a subtle introduction to other compelling retail channels. 

More traditional consumers who enjoy the presentation of products on television and the opportunity to speak to a sales representative with questions may not be persuaded to a pure online retailer like Amazon, for example. But if they see Zulily featured on the channel they trust, it will be easier to get them online to take a closer look and perhaps sign up for the site's daily flash deals.

At the other end of the spectrum, QVC is unlikely to make great inroads with millennial consumers via its traditional TV presentations, but with Zulily's user base and online reach it will find new ways to access that market.

The two are unlikely to merge the companies' offerings immediately for fear of diluting the identity of either brand. In the near future, however, expect to see more and more Zulily-based segments on QVC's shows, and regular TV offers extended to the Zulily subscriber list.

We'll take a closer look at omnichannel fulfillment and where the trend is heading early next month. Be sure to subscribe to our email list to stay up to date!