Posted tagged ‘Zappos’

Trends that You Should Worry About…

January 1, 2010

Lately, I have been “heads down” more than ever working with companies on redefining their strategies. In these conversations, I am often asked what surprises me the most. Here are a few observations.

The biggest surprise to me has been the pace at which whole industries have begun to disappear. As fast as one charts the list, another one needs to be added. The postal service, newspaper and magazine publishing, television, and retail stores are just a few.

Last week, I went into a high end department store to buy a present for a newly engaged couple. I went to the registry and met with the manager. She told me that 80% of the gifts for a couple is now purchased on line. This is good news for the retailer because it can pay less commission, as there is no sales rep involved in the purchasing transaction.

What was shocking to me was that manager told me that when an item is returned to the store, it gets applied as a negative sale to her commission. She is running harder just to stay in place. And the store is comfortable making her role obsolete.

Another recent trend that I find fascinating is the increasing need to create engines as opposed to creating businesses. Zappos is a great illustration of this process done well.

Zappos had become an Internet business legend, so to speak, for its ability to sell footwear. Its use of social media to promote and service its business is very well known.

In July, Amazon announced its intention to purchase Zappos. The deal closed in November.

Today, less than two months later, Zappos has transformed itself into a clothing site. The engine that it has designed and the practices that it has implemented are being used to allow it to enter a whole other segment of the clothing industry.

What does all this mean to you?

For starters, if you have been doing business in a traditional way, start rethinking your business model because your next competitor can come from anywhere.

Lesson 7: Use Technology to Forward Your Business

April 12, 2009

We’ve laid the foundation for our solution by discussing numerous disciplines which will be incorporated for re-establishing marketing and sales control within our housewares industry, The remaining area for us to explore is technology.

As is always the case, technology is never the solution in and of itself. Rather, technology is a tool – a very effective tool for transforming the way one processes transactions on behalf of its customers or delivers products or services to them or communicates with them.

In recent months – and although it feels longer than that – it really is months -we have been exposed to a new use of technology, a tool called Twitter. Twitter takes texting to another level. This service allows people to send and read “micro-blogs” or “tweets” of up to 140 characters. That’s about the same length as one of the sentence in this paragraph. Here’s a quick overview.

People who use twitter a re called “tweeters.” They set up free accounts on Twitter and post these very short blurbs. Anyone with Internet access can log on and see these “tweets.” The difference though is this. People can elect to have these tweets sent to their cell phones, mobile devices or computers.

How can one sentence of posting make such a difference? Consider this report from the April 8th New York Times and reporter Ellen Barry.

“A crowd of more than 10,000 young Moldovans materialized seemingly out of nowhere on Tuesday to protest against Moldova‘s Communist leadership, ransacking government buildings and clashing with the police.

The sea of young people reflected the deep generation gap that has developed in Moldova, and the protesters used their generation’s tools, gathering the crowd by enlisting text-messaging, Facebook and Twitter the social messaging network.

The protesters created their own searchable tag on Twitter (ed. note: thus allowing you to look up links that are tagged with one or more subjects), rallying Moldovans to join and propelling events in this small former Soviet state onto a Twitter list of newly popular topics, so people around the world could keep track.

By Tuesday night, the seat of government had been badly battered and scores of people had been injured. But riot police had regained control of the president’s offices and Parliament Wednesday.

After hundreds of firsthand accounts flooded onto the Internet via Twitter, Internet service in Chisinau, the capital, was abruptly cut off.”

If political revolutions can be initiated, how can a business one be started?

On the site Read Write Web, http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/zappos_twitter.php) you can learn how Zappos, the Internet shoe retailer is using social media to forward its business.

There are literally more than a 100 Zappos employees with twitter windows open waiting to respond to customer service questions.

Here’s a short sample from today’s Zappos Twitter site. I’ve slightly modified each name and removed the links so as to be sensitive to the identities of the individuals since I am using this for a different purpose.

  • @samdeck I want to apologize for your hold time. We’re here for you 24/7 1-800-927-7671. Have an awesome day!!! about 2 hours ago from web in reply to samdeck
  • @onfiref I apologize for the confusion, but which shoes do you need a picture of? Let us know or call us 1-800-927-7671 about 2 hours ago from web
  • @Glorial congrats! We look forward to meeting you! about 21 hours ago from web
  • @mkntz we did upgrade you to next-business day shipping for free on your order! You should receive it 4/14/09 at the latest. about 21 hours ago from web
  • @hinia I would be happy to answer your question. There is no tax when shipping to California from Zappos. 2:30 PM Apr 10th from web

This is customer service in 2009!

Zappos though is also intent on building a community. There’s a dedicated site where you’ll find all of the twittering Zappos employees who tweet about what they are working on and interesting resources on and off the Zappos site. There’s an employee leader board that shows who’s on twitter an dhow many followers they have.

There’s also a page that aggregates all of the public mentions of Zappos. And Zappos has also set up pages for those who rave about the company and its products.

Want to know more about how to use Twitter in your business? Do a Google search on “twitter” and “business”…

Ah, technology as a tool…


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