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Zappos: 5 Lessons In WOW-ing Customers

Author's avatar By Danyl Bosomworth 06 May, 2010
Essential Essential topic

Have you heard of Zappos? They're a US online retailer mega brand largely unknown in the UK - more often referred to as a social media pioneer in marketing circles (for Twitter usage particularly). Yet, dig a little deeper and it becomes clear that a significant strategy is under-pinning their success, and it's not all about social networks. It does however start to become obvious as to why social media know-how is natural to them and necessary to help drive marketing.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos says simply "€œWe pay more attention to our customers"€.

It"€™s this simple, profound mentality that has led to Amazon purchasing Zappos for a staggering $1.2bn in Nov 2009.

Tony goes on, "€œPeople may not remember exactly what you did or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel"€. This is the essence of how Zappos have achieved their phenomenal success.

Apparently, it wasn"t always this way and the Zappos Brand evolution has seen it go from simply having a strong customer focus to now being passionate about how they make their customers feel:

  • 1999 Selection
  • 2003 Customer Service
  • 2005 Culture and Core Values as our platform
  • 2007 Personal Emotional Connection
  • 2009 Delivering Happiness

5 things we can take from Zappos' success

1. Customers come back, order more and more often

  • On any given day, about 75% of purchases from Zappos are from returning customers
  • Repeat customers order >2.5x more from in the following 12 months
  • Repeat customers spend more

2. Make it easy for customers to build your brand

  • Superior experience drives word of mouth, so do the unexpected
  • Remove the risk of purchase and make it easy to return product for free
  • Fast, accurate fulfilment is worth talking about
  • Deliver an "above and beyond" customer service
  • Drive people to the phone, be contactable and be open

3. Talk to people!...

  • "The telephone is one of the best branding devices available"
  • Take time to talk to people properly
  • At Zappos there are no call times and no sales-based performance goals for sales reps
  • Zappos will also pay you $2000 to quit, so only the best people who enjoy the job stay
  • The Culture Book makes it clear how Zappos do business and even underpins performance management

4. Build a culture that envelops customers and internal staff"€¦

  • Zappos have "committable core values" that are clear, exciting and simple
  • It doesn't matter what your core values are as long as you commit to them and get internal alignment
  • Commit to a culture of transparency "An Ask Anything Culture"
  • Zapposinsights.com  focusses on lifting the lid for customers and future employees

5. Have a vision...

  • "Whatever you're thinking, think bigger", comments Tony
  • Does your company vision have real meaning? Without is there little chance of achieving any of the above.
  • "What would you be passionate about doing for 10 years even if you never made a dime?

Tony concludes: If research tells Zappos that having vision, meaning and a higher purpose (as well as financial goals, we assume) leads to happiness internally and happy customers externally"€¦ then what is your company"€™s higher purpose? What is your higher purpose?

$1.2bn later, a social media power brand and publishers clamouring to tell his story, it"€™s hard to argue with him really. See his presentation here.

Author's avatar

By Danyl Bosomworth

Dan helped to co-found Smart Insights in 2010 and acted as Marketing Director until leaving in November 2014 to focus on his other role as Managing Director of First 10 Digital. His experience spans brand development and digital marketing, with roles both agency and client side for nearly 20 years. Creative, passionate and focussed, his goal is on commercial success whilst increasing brand equity through effective integration and remembering that marketing is about real people. Dan's interests and recent experience span digital strategy, social media, and eCRM. You can learn more about Dan's background here Linked In.

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