Zappos Sells More By Encouraging Returns

from the outrunning-the-competition dept

Although it may not get that much hype, Zappos has built up an impressive and successful online shoe retailer. While shipping costs are often the bane of online retailers, Zappos has thrived, not only by offering free shipping, but by offering free return shipping as welll (via Knowledge Problem). Obviously, shipping is expensive, but by subsidizing product returns, the company has removed the risk of buying shoes online. Customers don't have to worry about a pair of shoes not fitting right, because they can always send them back at no cost. In fact, the company approves of customers that buy multiple pairs, just to see which pair fits, while sending the others back. Of course this cuts into its margins to some extent, but the alternative is for customers to buy shoes at traditional stores. The basic lesson is one that plenty of retailers recognize: making it easier to return items will make customers more comfortable with purchasing them. But it's the application of this lesson online, to such an extreme degree, that has separated Zappos from the pack.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Slartibartfast, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 3:43pm

    An excellent example of how to get ahead by innovation rather than sueing the opposition!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    able-x, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 3:50pm

    interesting

    Interesting, I need new shoes, I think I will head over there now, thanks for the heads up :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Ilikeshoes, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 4:01pm

    Zappos Rocks

    Zappos actually has a 365 day return policy. You can send back shoes within a year of buying them as long as they are like new. I have used them for several pairs of shoes and will continue to. They even let you know when they receive the return. Their customer service is outstanding! I cant compliment them enough.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Ex- shoes etailer, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 6:07pm

    Zappos... and everybody else

    Zappos's return policy is great, but doesn't exactly separate it from it's competition. Every major online shoe seller has the same policy:

    www.shoebuy.com
    www.shoes.com
    www.onlineshoes.com
    www.endless.com
    www.piperlime.com
    www.6pm.com

    ... and those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    lisa, Jul 16th, 2007 @ 11:38pm

    Love zappos!

    bought my first pair from zappos recently - sent the first pair back since they were too small and was really happy with the second pair - easy free return was great! Two thumbs up for zappos :) Huge selection too. The pair I bought was because I saw someone wearing them and zappos had the exact shoe!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2007 @ 6:04am

    customer service wins out

    Shipping and return costs are ultimately what drives my selection between online retailers. I use BN.com over Amazon in ordering books because BN is "fast and free shipping" policy where I receive my items in 2-3 days versus 2-3 weeks with Amazon's shipping option. Zappos wins out b/c it does not cost me anything to return the items and initial shipping is super fast.

    Customer service does ultimately win out over price when it comes to my online shopping.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Fred, Jul 17th, 2007 @ 6:05am

    The best thing about Zappos is that they then take all those returns and sell them for $10-20 a pair at periodic tent sales at their fulfillment center (at least they did when I lived there in 2005). Granted, you have to go to Shepherdsville, KY, but where else can you get a pair of $10 Doc Martens?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Danne, Jul 17th, 2007 @ 6:46am

    perfect fit

    Zappos gets a lot of my business, precisely because of its policies (okay, the shoes are sexy, well-made and comfortable too). Zappos is second only to a Nordstrom's clearance sale.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Malgwyn, Jul 17th, 2007 @ 1:41pm

    Made in China, Where?

    How would I determine where the shoes were made, other than buying them? Like almost all mail order, they don't list where items are manufactured.

    I don't buy anything from China and various other countries, as they do not have health and safety laws that control the use of phthalates in them.

    Converse, which used to manufacture it's All Stars in the US, now does so in China and they smell different.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Malgwyn, Jul 17th, 2007 @ 1:41pm

    Made in China, Where?

    How would I determine where the shoes were made, other than buying them? Like almost all mail order, they don't list where items are manufactured.

    I don't buy anything from China and various other countries, as they do not have health and safety laws that control the use of phthalates in them.

    Converse, which used to manufacture it's All Stars in the US, now does so in China and they smell different.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Poacher, Jul 23rd, 2007 @ 8:34pm

    Most shoes are made in China

    Almost all shoes are made in China. Having been to several factories myself the misconception is that this isn't a huge source of employment and opportunity for the Chinese. The country is severely depressed and manufacturing is the only way the working class can get ahead. Most shoe companies are damn sure the factories they work with are compliant with labor and pollution regulations - we all saw what happened to Nike. 99% of all athletic shoes - such as Nike, Adidas, Converse, Reebok, etc. are made there. New Balance has a small factory in Massachussettes - but it is all for show and they make a fraction of a % of their shoes there - maybe 2 styles. Unless you are buying higher end Italian shoes, you are probably wearing product made in China.

    As for Zappos - they are making the online customer expectations higher. Thus pressuring other retailers to make their policies more customer friendly to compete. Changing the landscape really - for the better of all of us. Gone are the days of a website not listing its customer service phone # if they want to be legit. Zappos is setting the bar indeed not to mention their selection is literally the best in the world see for youself if you dont believe me. I am size 13 and can choose from thousands of shoes. Many stores don't even carry that size and it used to waste hours of my time tracking a pair down that fit at normal retail.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    zxcv, Apr 19th, 2010 @ 11:25pm

    shoes

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    the north face outlet sale, Nov 10th, 2011 @ 10:51pm

    the north face outlet sale

    The North Face Better Than Naked Jacket is a seemingly weightless, easily stowed, weather-resistant layer for Fall running.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Guy Grimley, Dec 17th, 2011 @ 6:29pm

    online shoe shop

    Zappo is undoubtedly doing great business. Not only will your shoe shoppers delight with their buys but will also have a shipping-worry-free shopping as well. And if there's something wrong with their purchase, they have all year to return it. Just amazing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Roger Vivier Sandals, May 9th, 2012 @ 6:40pm

    Roger Vivier Sandals

    This
    Roger Vivier features leather lining and overlay with signature rubber dotting along the high heel. A leather sole with rubber dotting sits beneath one half inch heel. The sneakers are what we're considering here. Our assortment of these sneakers is large and it has an excellent site for you to select from. If you're trying to find suede, brown, leather and even Roger Vivier Flats.With such health ideal inside of Roger Vivier Sandals, still continues in Nike Air Max, even cold winter, people still choose Roger Vivier Shoes to doing anything.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Roger Vivier Sandals, May 9th, 2012 @ 6:41pm

    Roger Vivier Sandals

    This
    Roger Vivier features leather lining and overlay with signature rubber dotting along the high heel. A leather sole with rubber dotting sits beneath one half inch heel. The sneakers are what we're considering here. Our assortment of these sneakers is large and it has an excellent site for you to select from. If you're trying to find suede, brown, leather and even Roger Vivier Flats.With such health ideal inside of Roger Vivier Sandals, still continues in Nike Air Max, even cold winter, people still choose Roger Vivier Shoes to doing anything.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Maggie, Nov 20th, 2012 @ 10:36pm

    The inquiry about the advertising

    Dear Sir/Madam
    My name is Maggie
    I have visited your site and found that it's very useful
    I would like to advertise on your site with text link or banner to support your site,and make profits for both of us
    Are you interested in this business partnership? how's the price for 3 months?
    I'm looking forward to your kindly reply and we can discuss the further information !

    Regards
    Maggie

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This