Zappos Milestone: Focus on Apparel

The sky is the limit for Zappos, as the e-tailer turns its attention to the apparel world and moves further away from shoes.

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Ted Baker

Photo By Courtesy Photo

For apparel vendors, Zappos’ push into clothing offers an opportunity to be associated with a massive e-tailer with a reputation for impeccable customer service.

“[The site] hits the masses, and it makes you feel like there’s a special point of view there,” said Gary Cohen, U.S. president of Ted Baker, which sells men’s and women’s clothing and accessories on Zappos. “They make it very easy to buy, and there’s a tremendous amount of follow-up.” 

Ted Baker made its connection with Zappos through its footwear collections, Cohen said, and over time has worked with the company to create a digital boutique with all the brand’s offerings. “Not every [retailer] will build you a whole shop with all the categories in one place. [In department stores], you’ll be in 10 different areas,” Cohen said. “But on Zappos, you’ll click on Ted Baker and see it all — from eyewear and watches to trousers and shoes.”

Beyond clothing, Zappos execs said they are open to adding any new product category that makes sense. And when it comes to making those decisions, Lin said, it’s not a matter of the numbers but of giving customers what they want. “We will go into any product category that we’re passionate about,” he said. “We don’t strategically target particular categories because we think the potential market size is large.”

Instead, he said, they listen to customer requests and see if there are employees within the company who are equally passionate about the requested category or item. “Then we start small and stay focused and let the data tell us whether we should continue to refine and expand an area.”

That approach brings with it wide-ranging potential for the Zappos brand, prompting the company to draw comparisons to Virgin, the British firm that has built an empire out of diverse industries, including retail, telecommunications and commercial aviation. “They’re able to do it just by being cool,” said Aaron Magness, business development manager for Zappos. “We want to do it by being about great customer service.”

Though Zappos hasn’t started looking for a fleet of planes or scoping out hotel real estate, Mossler said the company is positioning itself to be a long-term player across numerous industries. “Everything’s on the table,” he said. “Probably not next year, but within the next 10 to 20 years, anything is possible.”

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