Now that Amazon has purchased Zappos, will the popular footwear e-commerce outlet keep its famously friendly face? Amazon announced Wednesday that the Web retailing giant would acquire the popular shoe shopping destination Zappos.com in exchange for 10 million shares of Amazon stock.
“This is a win-win situation,” says Jeff Grau, eMarketer senior analyst. “Amazon’s footwear business gets an immediate shot of adrenaline and Zappos gains access to Amazon’s deep technology and order fulfillment expertise.”
As the news traveled around Twitter and the blogosphere, Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh reassured employees—and customers—in a letter: “We plan to run Zappos the way we have always run Zappos—continuing to do what we believe is best for our brand, our culture, and our business.”
The culture of Zappos has been a big part of its success, along with its forward-looking approach to social media.
Perhaps best known in social network marketing for Mr. Hsieh’s use of Twitter, the company has also used Facebook and MySpace to share its philosophy and dangle timely offers.
Since its launch in February, the Zappos Facebook page had racked up 17,000-plus fans as of mid-June 2009. The company posts a video every day and gets an average of 60 to 70 comments on each posting.
According to Abrams Research, social media leaders say Zappos.com has done the best job of any organization at using social media. The chart below shows the results, with Ford Motor Company rated the best at using social media from amongst all companies in the automotive industry.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) and American Express also reported high marks for Zappos.com customer service, with US consumers rating it the third-best retailer.
Internet Retailer reported that Zappos.com took in over $1 billion in retail e-commerce sales in 2008, up from $840 million in 2007.
Conversion rates and average sales were down slightly over the same period, but monthly unique visitors increased to 4.2 million.
“Zappos is a customer focused company,” said Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. “We see great opportunities for both companies to learn from each other and create even better experiences for our customers.”
“If anyone can pull off this merger and preserve Zappos’ unique customer service culture it is Jeff Bezos,” says Mr. Grau. “Jeff is truly a maverick who knows not to tinker with the glue that holds together a highly successful brand like Zappos.”
Note: For more insight into Zappos’ unique culture, see the eMarketer interview with Brian Kalma, director of user experience, Zappos Personalization: Making Sure the Shoes Fit.
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