Differentiation

I Love Shoes. I’m a shoe and bag connoisseur. My fascination with online shopping has almost exceeded my passion for shoes. So it’s no surprise that Zappos.com is my go-to shoe shop. Zappos is a Los Vegas, Nevada-based online shoe and apparel retailer. Amazon purchased it in 2009. Zappos owns over 4 million products and has been praised for its excellent customer support, which is based on one of the company’s core values of “delivering wow through service”. Its website is simple to use, has outstanding product photography, and each product page contains a wealth of details.

Zappos.com is active on several social media platforms. They have profiles on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. They were one of the first companies to use social media in their marketing strategies. But it was not just that the organization was an early adopter of social media that set them apart; it was also how they used it from the beginning.  Zappos realized early on in its social media journey that social media is more about building relationships than marketing.

Its postings on Facebook and Twitter are primarily visuals, stunning visuals of people wearing shoes. Those images drew the audience’s attention.

They wanted to buy those shoes; where can they find them? Zappos.com of course. When the person clicks their Like button, the custom tab changes, and they can sign up for their email list and interact with its products. They will also gain immediate access to exclusive content, videos, and special promotions. Zappos demonstrates that they care about building relationships with their customers by waiting until they click the “Like” button.  Another way Zappos build relationships with their customers by encouraging customers to post images of themselves holding the Zappos box on Facebook, and other customers vote on the best picture of the week. Zappos took a lighthearted approach on YouTube. They posted videos of what one can do with their empty Zappos boxes, such as “how to make a cat bed out of a cardboard box.” They also have a series of mini webisodes, such as Zappos’ True Customer Story, which tells the true story of a customer’s purchasing experience from Zappos. The episodes were not only entertaining, but they also complemented Zappos’ customer service.

Shoes.com, based in Seattle, Washington, was an American online retailer of footwear and clothing founded in 1999. (Not to be confused with the current Shoe.com, which was formerly known as Shoebuy.com). Shoes.com’s first mistake was underestimating Zappos and not thinking that it was competition (but that is another story). What happened to cause the company to declare bankruptcy?

A business’s brand must have a story before launching a marketing campaign. The brand story helps to build confidence and reinforce bonds with its target audience. A brand story that illustrates why customers should care about you and put their faith in you. If a company does not have a story, how does it know whom to sell to?

Successful brands create a narrative that positions them as unique and creates an emotional connection with the customers. Good storytelling is all about forging an emotional connection.” (Dr. Agarwal, 2018)

Shoes.com never established a relationship with its customers because they had no idea who they were. As a result, it was easy for the company to ignore consumer complaints. Shoes.com overlooked the importance of proper consumer engagement in putting things right.

Resources:

Adams, Scott (March 17, 2017). Seven Lessons From The Failure Of Shoe.com. Forbes.com.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2017/03/17/seven-lessons-from-the-failure-of-shoes-com/?sh=bf5e59b40099

Agarwal, Pragya  (August 15, 2018). Why Brand Stories Matter and Simple Steps Creating a Unique Story. Forbes.com. https://www.forbes.com/sites/pragyaagarwaleurope/2018/08/15/why-brand-stories-matter nd-simple-steps-to-create-a-unique-brand-story/?sh=bb88bffc907d

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