Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Zappos - setting a GREAT example.



When you get into business ownership, there is really only one outcome you set out to achieve – and that’s to be successful. Because let’s be honest, why would you prep the time, take the risk, and dedicate the effort if we wanted to fail? It’s just not why people would want to get into business.

So, as entrepreneurs and business owners embark on our journey to be a ‘success’ – many (and usually those that are successful) continually search for ways to grow, improve, and advance both business practices and our own personal abilities & skillsets. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to learn from those that have successfully walked the path before us. Whether it be surrounding ourselves with successful business executives to learn from their daily actions, perspectives, approaches, or business practices…or by plugging ourselves into a business and learn from the management behaviors, corporate culture, marketing strategies, business plans, etc. – these all positively contribute in teaching us how to improve what we have and how to execute our businesses in more effective, efficient, and profitable ways.

From here, we share the story of a company called Zappos. It’s a story you may or may not be familiar with but if you are looking at creating corporate culture like no other…it’s definitely a business we have learned lot from (hence why we wanted to share with all of you).




A brief (and we mean a VERY brief) history of Zappos. The Zappos story began by a University of California graduate (Nick Swinmurn) in 1996 when he had a desire to start his own company. After spending time one afternoon shopping for shoes and a style that he wanted and failed to find them – he knew the opportunity to market and sell shoes online better than what existed, was available. 3 years later, in 1999, after raising $150,000 through friends and family he would launch the original site and was immediately selling shoes. Before you knew it, the company was bought out and became Zappos as we know it.

So what can we learn from Zappos then...besides their huge success? Here are top 3 things that stood out for us – that are relevant to most businesses.
  • There is a formula for superb service. Some of what goes on at Zappos may strike you as over the top – cowbell-accompanied office parades or hour-long customer service chats with customers – but Zappos thinks it’s without a doubt worth it. They have chosen to compete almost entirely on the basis of customer service, which means the service must be viewed to be obviously, measurably, permanently superior.
  • Bring in others perspectives. The CEO usually and casually shrugs off keeping any secrets. His belief is that if he tells the world what he is planning – then essentially he welcomes the ideas to improve his plans.  As an example, they have opened their shipping operations to the manufacturers who provide his inventory – as he believes that an extra 1500 pairs of eyes helps manage the business! Smart.
  • Going social.  Zappos developed its Internet persona primarily to bring in and hold onto customers. The CEO, Tony Hsieh, is on Twitter and the fun & games that the corporate off (and culture) is know for…is well chronicled on their website. In addition, it is positively encouraged that all employees share their views and company lives on social networking sites because “customers feel more personally connected”. In short, Zappos is a truly customer-oriented operation  and many of their practices around that is based on that top priority.
We are not claiming that Zappos is end-all, be-all, but we would suggest that if your business is in the customer service business or striving to establish your own specific corporate culture – they are providing one hell of an example to learn from!

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