Zappos points to Future Business Model

You will see from the above video that Zappos is no ordinary company.

Zappos launched in 1999 and today has annual sales in excess of $1billion.

Zappos sells footwear and clothing online. Sounds fairly ordinary however, the key to Zappos’ success is its unwavering focus on building a unique community culture amongst its staff and customers by aiming to build WOW! into every interaction.

This culture is evident from its (refreshingly different) values:

Deliver WOW Through Service

Embrace and Drive Change

Create Fun and A Little Weirdness

Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded

Pursue Growth and Learning

Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication

Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit

Do More With Less

Be Passionate and Determined

Be Humble

Yet the Zappos culture is disruptive in other ways too including the fact that:

  • employees are encouraged to open Twitter accounts – so for any customer complaint posted to Twitter, expect to see an employee run to the rescue within minutes (that’s if a raving customer fan doesn’t get there first!)
  • all new employees are put through an intensive training induction course then offered $2,000 to quit! Not only does this weed out those in it solely for the money (merely a job!) but it also helps maintain morale for the existing team who are reassured that only the committed join the community.
  • Zappos is active in all social media channels and listens to customer comments as well as gripes. An online suggestion to stock sunglasses was listened to and acted upon. Sunglasses sales rocketed and Zappos is now one of the largest online suppliers.
  • It offers a 365 day returns policy. Likely to be abused, most would think – however, those that do return items turn out to be Zappos’s most profitable customers overall.

The list of counter-intuitive policies and business practices (compared to conventional business wisdom) goes on and on….. yet the success of the business is undeniable (Amazon acquired the company for c$1 billion).

The really interesting point is where Zappos could go from here. It has built a reputation for reliability, trust, innovation, relentless customer focus, community, inventiveness, transparency, passion and fun. At a time when traditional BIG business has suffered a fall from grace, there is an open goal waiting for disruptive businesses like Zappos. Zappos is, in effect, a service company (that currently happens to sell footwear) and could go on to sell anything as its mad raving fans would flock to support it.

How many UK companies match Zappos’ approach to business?