Zappos succeeded – so could you!

Zappos succeeded – so could you!

I’ve mentioned previously that I try and write and keep an eye on a broad church so to speak – simply because I know that the particular vertical I developed a lot of my knowledge in, financial services, does not have exclusivity on good ideas. Indeed I was in Chicago recently brainstorming with some colleagues around online business concepts and Zappos came up. Being both a guy and a Brit I will be honest and say that this particular online fashion retailer had never come up on my radar before.

Of course the US ladies in the audience were very aware of Zappos and how they had, with one simple decision made online fashion retailing workable through the simple expediency of offering a 365 day, no questions asked return policy and some pretty client friendly shipping practices. The general agreement was that this return policy was complete genius and showed the business acumen of Zappos management – possibly also explaining why Amazon were prepared to buy Zappos out for a cool $800m or thereabouts.

For my UK readers amongst you, retail stores in the US tend to have far more flexible returns policies than they do in the UK. By offering such a favourable and flexible returns policy, Zappos were building on and indeed enhancing a right that every US woman considers as import as the Bill of Rights – the possibility of changing their mind down the road. The result, Zappos have built a loyal, almost fanatical following – something I’m sure Amazon are keen to engage with and no doubt learn from.

Of course this example merely highlights that it is extremely important to plan your online business in detail from not only a technical but also from a strategic perspective if you hope to succeed over the longer term. One company recently brought to my attention appear to understand this and have worked with some sizable brands in the fashion web design space including DKNY and Perry Ellis. Thankfully they also provide a wide array of services in a wide array of verticals essential in today’s market.

Indeed, as Godfrey Parkin outlined in his recent book Digital Marketing: Strategies for Online Success you need to plan around the following areas:

  • Strategy and planning
  • Customers
  • Your website (this isn’t TOP of the list)
  • Search engine marketing
  • Online advertising
  • Email marketing
  • PR
  • Metrics
  • The ability to revise your strategy down the road

Key of course is coming up with a market beating concept first of all!

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