THE INTERNET’S SOLE PROVIDER

ALL I WANT IS CHA CHA HEELS:
As a tween, with meagre finances and limited sense of style, I made egregious errors – allowed to purchase new “going out shoes” I forced my size 7’s into a size 6 satin beauty pair with a bow and diamantes. There was also the white cowboy boots episode and the electric blue sandals incident in my teenage years I would rather forget. Even as an undergrad, shoes were costly, and the selection in 9 1/2 was meagre. Imagine my utter delight in walking into DSW when on holiday in the US. My happiness increased exponentially when I settled in the States and had that “Ahhhhh” moment when I came across Zappos. At first I used them as a point of price comparison then as a primary source for selection as my satisfaction with the company grew. Zappos (short for zapatos, the Spanish for shoes) is the world’s largest online shoe store. They sell clothing and accessories as well, but the shoes are the “sole” of the company. They were bought by Amazon in for 1.2 billion in 2009 and seem to have benefitted from the transaction
     
WALKING A MILE IN THEIR SHOES:
Zappos performance have been credited with their action within two broad categories
 1. Focus on customer service to offer a positive and memorable experience
 2. Relationship build with customer who will then say nice things about you. If your only interaction is with a website, you’re not walking in a brick and mortar establishment with a fun interior, pulsing Katy Perry on the overhead speakers and picking up those artfully crafted little trophies and inhaling that cured leather aroma, then how do you know if you like and trust this company, enough to repeat purchase and also to talk about them to your social circle. Well, those clever souls at Zappos pulled off some groundbreaking tactics like the insane lengths their customer service will go to as well as their management of Twitter @zappos
 HOW ZAPPOS SELLS THEIR SOLES:
Twitter:Zappos has been credited with being an early adopter of technology. Employees are required to do Twitter 101 as part of their orientation and training process. And there are 500 who are encouraged to tweet to each other and to the public, and stay away from blatant marketing pitches or sales talk. The idea was to “humanize” the company. (Zappos Tweet wall is something to behold – a space devoted to a tile display of products and the associated tweets) 

Zappos Twitter Wall from Zappos.com

Zappos Twitter Wall from Zappos.com

Huh? you say? I did too, having worked in the financial sector, and well, anywhere else you’re publicly traded and an inappropriate remark can cause a company no end of grief. Zappos does not seem to have had Twitter missteps which leads me to believe those tweets have a 60 second delay where they’re screened for trouble or the employees are superbly trained, intensely loyal and smarter than the average bear, or tweeter. I think I’ll go with the last as Zappos has also invested in creating an incredible organizational culture which encourages individualistic expressions. Translation: kooky and fun stuff happens at work! “Fun and a little weird” says their website.Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh, has a personal Twitter account @tonyhsieh, with 2,75 million followers and blogs personally about work and his interests. Talk about setting an example!

THESE SITES WERE MADE FOR TALKIN’:Other social media used effectively by Zappos include:
 Facebook:
 1,484, 480 likes as of this week and 37, 085 people talking about it. with the majority of their audience 25 to 34 years of age. Zappos encourages you to like them to get access to exclusive information on deals, new products, and what’s trending. The Facebook forum is another way Zappos deals with customer complaints and questions. My research turned up some interesting fan-celebration promos Zappos did with Facebook a couple years ago which encouraged their customers to post pics of them with their Zappos box and the public voted for the winners.A Business Insider article (Feb 7, 2013) by Heather Leonard stated that Zappos Facebook drove 85,000 visits in two months, and 42% of their status updates led to sales. The balance led to “Likes” comments and sharing. The Zappos Facebook site is active and there are responses in short time by Zappos representatives.
 Blogs:
 The website features different blogs with a diverse range of material 1. Fashion Culture  2. CEO and COO   3. Campus 4. Sustainability 5. Seams. Here’s an example of the sustainability blog 

Fashion Couture Blog from Zappos.com

Fashion Couture Blog from Zappos.com

Instagram:
 Zappos upkeeps a vibrant Zappos Instagram site with 583 posts, 14,787 followers and 275 following at the time of blogging.

Zappos Instagram page

Zappos Instagram page

You Tube:
Watch It. Shop It. Rock It. Zappos has a flock of slick commercial offerings on You Tube showcasing their wares through stories on Fashion Week, face to face with customers games and information on how to return products and about the company. There are 4,070 subscribers and many comments on the videos.
 Pinterest:
Zappos and Amazon pioneered pinpointing which enabled users to receive suggestions from Zappos product line based on their pins or those of other users. Here’s how Zappos on Pinterest works.
 LACES & GROMMETS:
 There are other factors of course which hold the bits together. I especially like:
 1. Free shipping on purchases and exchanges – so you can shop to your hearts content, try it on, curse and fling it across the room, lie sobbing till you remember you can send it back for a bigger size. Or like a clever cookie I know, order both sizes at once and send back the rejects.
2. One year returns – goody, goody goody. I’ve never used it but LOVE that they offer it. It makes one think they are genuinely nice people who stand by the quality of their product.
 3. A call center with answers all day all night because, like me, we all want to know at 3 a.m. if that elegant tasseled Ivanka Trump suede oxford fits to size or should I go up a half size.
HOT ON THE HEELS OF TECHNOLOGY:

Zappos is already using transactional data to send their social network community “triggered emails” If it rains where you are you might get an ad for rain-boots by geo-targeting through Facebook ads. Look out for smart shoes which may let you know when to replace your shoes thanks to the “Internet of Things.”

Zappos purchases added to my shoe collection making it roughly 100 pairs in total. (Nicely packaged in clear plastic containers and sorted by season) I favor shoes with character – pointy toes, tassels, cut outs, and hardware like gold chains and overt zippers. My dress pumps must be sleek, platformed and powerful and my evening shoes, sensual and glittering. Zappos won more than my sole, they won my heart which sings when that box appears on doorstep and when I step out well shod, I’ve elicited compliments and admiring stares from strangers on my shoes. I expect Zappos focus will shift to clothing as the potential revenue in that market is much more than shoes but I hope they retain the customer friendly experience and passion I’ve come to expect in my favorite online shoe store.

Latest pair from Zappos

Latest pair from Zappos

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