Monday, August 23, 2010

The Zappos effect

I’ve just finished reading a book called Delivering Happiness which is all about Zappos. Now I’ve know vaguely about Zappos for a while after seeing it in many business magazines that I read. That’s why I went out and bought the book to learn more about why this business is rated so highly.

 

I have to admit that when I started reading the book I wasn’t all that impressed. It was really just a story monologue about the CEO Tony Hsieh and his life story. In summary, it details how he made his money selling Linkexchange to Microsoft and then almost losing it again trying to get Zappos established. Yeah, yeah I thought, one of lucky few that actually saw a business survive a near death experience. So what?

 

I think that it was only after finishing the book and doing some further research in Zappos that I really began to understand what is so unique about this company. Here’s a video that gives you some insight.

The Zappos http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFyW5s_7ZWc

 

It is only upon reflection that many of the concepts in the book begin to sink in. Some of the practices that Zappos have in regards to customer service certainly seem overly generous (like paying for shipping both ways and return goods up to 12 months, no questions, after purchase). However, when you consider that they do little other ‘traditional’ marketing it begins to make sense. It is one of those cases where you’d think that any business that would do these sort of things is crazy but Zappos do and they work! Any smart business person knows there is a lesson there somewhere.

 

Probably the most impressive thing I have learn about Zappos is their focus on creating the best corporate culture. They are creating somewhere that people actually want to work and enjoy what they do in every aspect. That is pretty unique these days and I think many business could take a leaf out of the Zappos handbook. I became intrigued with this concept many years ago when I first read In Search of Excellence and my interest is once again piqued. 

 

I would say the book Delivering Happiness is only a starting point for learning about Zappos. I think that if you spend some time examining and thinking about what this business does differently you’ll see something special and something that is certainly worth emulating. I’m guessing that many business people will disregard Zappos but the more I think about it the more I reckon they’re onto something special.