I liked the look of Zlio (and the idea behind it too), so I called Ilan Abehassera, an executive at the company, for a chat. Here’s the transcript:
TheCartBlog: Tell me about Zlio.
Zlio: We started with the idea of making creating a store as easy as creating a blog – and what we came up with was Zlio. You have access to over 145 merchants offering millions of products; we bring them to you.
TheCartBlog: And you get paid as an affiliate marketer?
Zlio: Exactly. Different merchants offer different percentages, but yes, it’s a commission model.
TheCartBlog: So I guess the closest thing might be AStores from Amazon, right?
Zlio: Yes, but remember AStores only offers Amazon’s inventory. And the customization features of AStores are quite limited. Astores is really targeted at bloggers. Zlio is only about 5% bloggers; the rest are people who have stand-alone stores.
TheCartBlog: How many Zlio stores are there?
Zlio: About 270,000.
TheCartBlog: Wow – that’s great! And how are they doing?
Zlio: Remember Zlio is not for the professional seller; it just allows people to monetize some of the time they spend online. Twenty percent of Zlio sellers are very active and are making up to $1,000 a month in commissions with no cost of inventory.
TheCartBlog: So this would be good for stay-at-home moms, students … other people who just wanted a little something on the side.
Zlio: Exactly. Now of course, you have to spend some time working on your store and promoting your store …
TheCartBlog: LOL! Just like everything else in life!
Zlio: … well, yes, but we just want to be sure people understand that it’s not a case of “build it and they will come.” You have to put some effort into it.
TheCartBlog: Fair enough. OK, let’s talk more about the competition.
Zlio: We see ourselves as a “social commerce” venue, which we think is different from “social shopping.” We are just looking for sellers. EBay and Etsy are looking for buyers and sellers. Our sellers have to find their own buyers. Or look at Shopify. Shopify is fantastic for merchants who have a physical presence and inventory and are looking for a way to add the Internet as a channel. But our sellers aren’t like this – they don’t have a bricks and mortar operation; they don’t have inventory. So that’s where we come in; “we bring the items to you.”
TheCartBlog: OK, what about Squidoo?
Zlio: Squidoo is very content focused; a particular lens may or may not be about affiliate selling. We want our stores to look like stores and be all about ecommerce.
TheCartBlog: Can you add content to your Zlio store?
Zlio: Sure – but again, we want all our stores to look like stores. The products are the focus, not the content.
TheCartBlog: Tell me about the support model for sellers.
TheCartBlog: And how can sellers track their income?
Zlio: We have an admin panel for each shop that tells the owner how the shop is doing; reports, sales breakdowns and so forth.
TheCartBlog: How do sellers become successful with Zlio?
Zlio: Promotion is the key. Obviously SEO is important, but beyond that, you need to promote your store – put it in your signature, talk about it on forums and blog posts – drive traffic to your store.
TheCartBlog: Pretty typical stuff for an Internet business. Well, thanks for taking the time to talk with us, and we look forward to seeing more great stuff!
Zlio: We have a number of improvements in the pipeline that you’ll be seeing soon!
Thanks for the talk, guys!