Delivering Happiness: What Online Retailers can Learn from Zappos

With $2.16 billion in revenue in 2011, Zappos is a leading retailer in the online space. How did they do it? A combination of consumer-centrism and a healthy, disciplined work culture. Under the lead of Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO, the online retailer has become renowned for its ability to deliver happiness and foster a healthy, diverse work environment. Here are 3 things other retailers can learn from Zappos:
 
  1. Focus on the customer experience

    We asked ourselves what we wanted this company to stand for. We didn't want to just sell shoes. I wasn't even into shoes - but I was passionate about customer service

    Tony Hsieh

    Zappos continuously aims to achieve one goal: to deliver happiness. The company has developed a corporate culture where every employee’s objective is to improve the lives of its vendors, backers, and most importantly, its customers. This goal was exemplified last year when a Zappos customer service representative spent 10.5 hours helping a prospect which resulted in the sale of a $45 pair of shoes. Other retailers can learn from Zappos by focusing primarily on the overall service satisfication of their customers. After all, while product features play a vital in influencing a purchase, the overall customer experience and the pleasure a customer receives from shopping at a particular store are the chief factors of closing a sale.

  2. Foster a fun, goal-oriented corporate culture

    Zappos has always put their employees first. This is why Fortune ranked Zappos 31 out of the best 100 companies to work for in 2013. According to Jenn Lim, CEO and chief happiness officer at Delivering Happiness, “companies can do market research to define the right customer segments/experience, but unless they have the right team (i.e. culture) to deliver, it’ll feel flat and insincere.” By developing a team of diligent, capable individuals and building a strong corporate culture, Zappos ensures its employees understand the purpose of their jobs and surround their value around the idea of “delivering happiness.” That said, while Zappos has invested a tremendous amount of time and resources hiring suitable candidates and developing a vibrant culture, they’d nonetheless recruited bad hires and burnt $100 million collectively. Smaller retailers can learn from Zappos’ successes and failures by bringing in ample candidates to boost their company’s productivity and assuring all their employees understand the prominent objective of their jobs. Moreover, merchants must make sure their team members’ values are consistent with the company’s purpose so that everyone is working synergetically towards the same goal.

  3. Train your employees and set them free

    Employees are at the forefront of the battle. They’re the ones who respond politely to complaints, provide solutions to problems, and generate revenue for organizations. Therefore, it’s crucial for companies to first equip their team members with all the necessary skills and let them put their skills to work. By setting employees free, companies can avoid micro-managing which can decrease morale. After all, Zappos believes employees’ happiness is directly correlated to traditional metrics of customer happiness such as repeat customers and net promoter score. Therefore, by giving your staffs autonomy, you can increase their happiness which in turn can boost your bottom line.

 
After 14 years in the retail business, Zappos remains a leader. A major factor of their success is their ability to ensure their employees fully comprehend the company’s value and have all the necessary skills to deliver happiness to their customers, the company, and of course, themselves.