Multimedia, multichannel approach—and no discount games
How does an online retailer like Zappos prepare for the holiday shopping onslaught? The quirky etailer stays at the top of its game with year-round preparation and continuous iteration on the site’s user experience, features, navigation, product assortment, inventory management and marketing.
One example of such iteration involves customer feedback, which is critical to Zappos’ business. In order to access feedback more directly, Zappos added a “like” button to its site. “We can listen to conversations about us and answer customer questions when they come up,” Jaimee Newberry, senior manager of user experience–visual design, told eMarketer. The feedback played a critical role in retooling the site’s user interface and skin.
—Jaimee Newberry, senior manager of user experience–visual design at Zappos.com, in an interview with eMarketer, July 2010
Newberry, who works closely with the company’s merchandising, brand marketing and tech teams, said that while she was optimistic about the upcoming holiday shopping season, the economy remained a wildcard: “I do think that we still have the frugal economic environment in play. We dropped our prices just a little bit last holiday season—right around Cyber Monday—and we saw an increase in sales from that,” she said. “People are going to be cautious and looking for a deal.” Notably, Zappos didn’t make hay when the price drop occurred, and it will more than likely try to avoid such a cut this year. Discounts and price-based promotions are not part of Zappos’ DNA.
When eMarketer spoke with Michelle Thomas, Zappos’ senior brand marketing manager, she said the brand team had been actively talking about plans for the holiday shopping season for at least a month. Zappos takes a multimedia, multichannel approach to holiday advertising and promotion.
With Boston-based Mullen its new agency of record, Zappos is gearing up for holiday shopping–oriented online banner ads and video, direct response email to its database of 5.3 million people, offline direct mail and gift-focused messaging on airport security bins. Zappos will rotate the creative and messaging as Q4 progresses.
—Michelle Thomas, senior brand marketing manager at Zappos.com, in an interview with eMarketer, July 2010
Zappos plans to weave holiday-themed messages through its Facebook and Twitter programs and will feature specific brands in those messages at various intervals. “We’ll have programs on Facebook and Twitter that will talk about gift-giving in a nontraditional, unexpected way,” Thomas hinted.
Don’t look for Zappos to pitch sales and discounts through these channels: “It’s about portraying the Zappos culture, not pushing the sales message.” However, the etailer does reach out to VIP members with exclusive sales events via email and Twitter, and offers them free overnight shipping for life.
While Zappos has a mobile website, the company’s iPad app is due for release right before the holidays, according to Newberry. Currently, just 2% of its 25-to-49-year-old predominantly female demographic accesses the site through a mobile device.