Nick Swinmurn, an ordinary shoe customer, founded Zappos, in 1999. Nick Swinmurn was once frustrated, when he was not able to find the right size, color and style of shoe after trying in many brick and mortar stores. As Internet was on boom that time, then Swinmurn came with an idea and decided to create online shoe retail, using the internet to address this problem. This problem is faced by customer buying from all traditional shoe retails, so Nick decided to start Zappos, in spite the fact that he dint had any experience in retails.
Zappos is basically a service company that sells shoe, whose name comes from a Spanish name for shoe - “Zapatos”. Zappos, being the world’s largest online retailer of shoes, is profitable, growing rapidly with its outstanding reputation and customer service. Zappos still have huge untapped customer and plenty of room for continued growth as it has only 3% of the US population as customer. Zappos main aim is to deliver high quality “wow” experience to the customer.
Zappos has seen an extraordinary success, which is largely dependent on the happy and loyal base of customers. Corporate culture of Zappos is to nurture fun at work. Employees at Zappos are the one who are passionate of what Zappos is about and their service. Zappos see customer service as an investment rather than an expense. Zappos provide extensive online product information; call center facility, free returns and free overnight shipping facilities. With most of its orders are made online, Zappos website load faster than any other retail website. It displays the picture of the product with several angles, in different colors.
Zappos fit and return policies by making customer comfortable buying shoes experience is a huge success. They provide 365 days free return policy in which customer can try and choose the shoes that fit and they can return the one that does not fit. Usually overall return was 35% of the gross sales.
Zappos’ telephone support with toll free number, which is displayed on all its web pages, is essential to maximize the customer experience. Zappos competition in the shoe business is mainly with the brick and mortar hoe stores. To provide maximum online experience with its 95% of the orders are handled online, but rest 5 % orders which includes question about the product, return and other issue also are handled by call center with customer call being answer in less than 20 sec. According to the Zappos, every interaction with the customer is the branding opportunity. To provide the best possible experience to the customer, call center employee are also trained to provide at least three other internet website to find what customer wanted and then talk about the customer finding the product on the competitive websites. However with this technique Zappos believe that it could lose the order, but the customer is more likely to return to it in the future. Zappos rely very much on the word of mouth, in which customer with exceptional experience are likely to tell friends about it.
Zappos provide rapid delivery with no additional charges, with usual delivery time being next day with its warehouses, which operate around the clock, every day with deliveries made overnight. Even though the delivery term as per Zappos is 4-5 days but it provides the service level of next day delivery. By this methodology, Zappos believe that when the customer find the product next day, they are surprised especially even when they have placed the order late at night. This increases the customer base and also exceeds the customer expectation.
Zappos have been very successful in attracting different brands by competing with brick and mortar store. Big brands got attracted to be associated with Zappos because these brands believe that Zappos provide experience to the customer in which customer are comfortable buying online. Also brands thought that with the boom of internet, if customer could not find the authentic high end brands online, then they would end up buying counterfeiters while searching for their brand online. Zappos also provide many verticals within the Zappos site which attracted many brands.