Online Audit for Zappos.com

Company Background

Zappos.com is the most popular and largest online shoes and apparel retail store based in Henderson, Nevade. It was founded in 1991 by Tony Hsieh and Nick Swinmun. Zappos.com is premier selling various selections of branded shoes, growing ranges of accessories, and clothing. Beside the tangible products, Zappos.com is famous for its loyalty business model and relationship marketing. What makes Zappos.com competitive and distinctive is their excellent customer service in the industry; they promote three benefits to customers, free shipping both ways, a 365-day return policy without extra shipping and restocking fees and a 24/7 call center.
Official Website
Zappos has put a lot of efforts in designing, optimizing and managing their official website in term of being accessible and easy to navigate for customers. At the top of their website, it has a search engine to allow customers to find their products in a second. On the menu bar, the website list all different categories from shoes to accessories. It also presents the popular shopping items as recommendations and customers testimonials about their products (Zappos, 2013).
From my perspective, although Zappos.com positions their unique selling point which is their extraordinary customer service in the entire website, I found that Zappos still has traditional online shopping website pattern. Their website is too informative to distract my attention. It is important for Zappos.com to distinguish themselves of the website between eBay, Amazon and other online shopping stores.
Facebook
Zappos.com uses their Facebook page to update with the latest news, photos and products. They currently have over 420,747 likes and over 6373 people are talking about them, as well as hundreds of other likes for their individual posts (Facebook, 2013). What astonished me the most is that they actually respond every single customer’s comment promptly on Facebook. Zappos.com presents an image of outstanding customer service at anytime and anywhere.
The second most surprising thing I found is that Zappos was one of the earliest companies creating its Facebook page in 2004 when Facebook was just established. It is a company that is able to seize the trends of social media beyond other competitors. Additionally, Zappos has put a lot of efforts on their Facebook page. Their theme, image, branding and message coincide with website, blogs, and other online presences.
Twitter
Zappos initially encourages 500 employees to use twitter as a daily and causal communication approach instead of promoting and marketing. Tony Hsieh commented that it was a great way to help build their company culture, as well as connecting with customers. Tony Hsieh-the CEO of Zappos.com is one of the most followed persons on Twitter with 2.67 million followers (Hsieh, 2012). There are several twitter accounts from Zappos to function differently, such as Zappos customer service, Zappos Stylists, Zappos Insights and so on.
Unlike other companies on Twitter, all of the Zappos.com twitter accounts deliver a joyful company culture, present employees’ own personality and communicate with customers and followers. On the other hand, the company did a great job at responding to direct tweets and replying every customer’s positive or negative comments.
Blogs
Zappos.com has various blogs online, such as Zappos Family, CEO and COO Blog, Inside Zappos. Zappos’ blogs, updated frequently, focus on fashion trends which may appeal customers’ eyeballs, some top-picked products, and introduce the new brands and products (Hsieh, 2009). The message and photos on blogs are consistent on their Facebook page and Twitter. After I read many their blogs, I found that their posts were more female-oriented, because women are their major customer base. By posting those fashion trends blogs, Zappos.com has a desire to position their company as a fashion hub.
The only issue I found is that there are limited numbers of people to comment on blogs or even share to customers’ own Facebook. The reason of this problem is that Zappos only allow the users who have Zappos accounts or Amazon accounts to comment on their blogs.
YouTube
As a social media savvy company, Zappos.com has its own YouTube channel since March 2006 with only 3020 subscribers, 354 videos, and total 3.74 million video views. Zappos.com keeps the overall outlook consistently. For example, they use “Zappos.com offers free shipping and free return shipping with a 365-day return policy. Choose from over 1000 brands, over 100,000 styles, and over 3 million items from our warehouse full of shoes, clothing, handbags, and accessories!” in any channels of their online presences.
Their channel mainly still focuses on fashion trends, new brands or products introduction and even their employees’ activities. At the same time, they encourage customers to upload and share videos on YouTube about Zappos. Compared to eBay on YouTube, eBay has double subscribers and views than Zappos.com. Additionally, the average view of Zappos’ videos is around 800 to 1500 (Zappos, 2013). I have watched couple of their videos; I found their videos were not interesting and entertaining enough to attract customers. At this point, Zappos needs to switch the focus and create more impressive videos.
Google+
Although Google+ is a new social media platform online, Zappos.com has made numerous contributions to it. They try to be consistently updating information on Google+, also presenting similar content and pictures to it as same as Facebook and Blogs. Personally I think that Zappos.com should tailor Google+ differently than other online presences, instead of posting similar contents and pictures. Repeatable posts could lose customers’ interests and attention.
Mobile Apps
I consider mobile apps as one of the most important online presences for Zappos.com. It is available for IOS, Android and Kindle (Zappos, 2012). Zappos has taken a customer-centric approach to capture more new customers and provide a better navigation tool for them to shop. Having the mobile apps could not only improve customers’ shopping experience up to the next level, but also can increase customer loyalty and trustworthiness. Ordering products on Zappos mobile apps could able to earn more VIP points, expedited returns and 24 hours shipping (Kats, 2012).
Online Influencers
When we talk about accessories, shoes and clothing, the very first thing coming into my mind are fashion, trends, and brands. Since Zappos.com targets itself as a fashion leading company on different online presences, other fashion magazines are the key online influencers to Zappos at the same time. These magazines such as Elle, Trend Hunter, and Vogue have huge influence on fashion trends and customers’ shopping decision making.
The second online influencers are Zappos’ suppliers and existing customers. The voices of customers and suppliers online have ten times effective and valuable than advertising. Customers’ comments, posts, testimonials and suggestions can influence the credit, reliability, and reputation of Zappos.com. Zappos.com has done a great job on maintaining long-term and stable relationship with all three influencers.

 

Recommendations
Zappos.com, as one of the leading online retail empires, has done an excellent job and has effectively used different social media platform to communicate with customers. Zappos.com has handled successfully on the security threat that was happened in Jan 2012. Zappos has well established crisis management skills to comfort customers and respond every single negative comment online immediately. There will be no company like Zappos who could maintain its reputation and win customers back after being hacked 24 million accounts information.

After researching about Zappos, I recommend that it is better for Zappos.com to use every online presence differently and try to avoid posting the similar contents and pictures. In addition, establishing a long-term relationship with customers and fashion leading online influencers are the key to increase their sales and build their brand.

Bibliography
Zappos.com . (n.d.). Shoes, Clothing, and More- Zappos.com . Retrieved February 8, 2013, from http://zappos.com
Zappos. (2013). Zappos-Facebook. Retrieved February 8, 2013, from http://www.facebook.com/#!/zappos?fref=ts
Hsieh, T. (2012). Zappos.com ceo -tony. Retrieved February 8, 2013 from https://twitter.com/zappos
Hsieh, T. (2009, January 3). Instant dance party at Zappos! [Web log message]. Retrieved February 8, 2013 from http://blogs.zappos.com
Zappos. (n.d.). Zappos – YouTube. YouTube – Broadcast Yourself. Retrieved February 8, 2013, from http://www.youtube.com/user/zappos?blend=2&ob=0
Kats (May, 2012).. Zappos exec: Apps are a loyalty tool. Retrieved February 8, 2013, from Mobile Commerce Daily http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/zappos-exec-apps-are-a-loyalty-tool
Zappos. (n.d) Zappos-Google +. Retrieved February 8, 2013, from https://plus.google.com/+zappos
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