Did they use one-click?
July 22, 2009 5:58 PM   Subscribe

People adore Zappos. Will that continue now that Amazon has bought them for nearly a billion dollars? In a battle of new wave corporate communication, Jeff Bezos announced it on Youtube while the Zappos' CEO posted his letter to the employees on their blog. (Previous Zappos posts: 1, 2)
posted by smackfu (80 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
This explains why my vintage kicks were missing from my closet today.
posted by geoff. at 6:04 PM on July 22, 2009 [42 favorites]


The thing is that any "internal" communication is going to get leaked anyway, so the CEO might as well post it publicly. As for Bezos, that's pretty bold, but really, he has better things to do than field questions from journos that he's not going to answer anyway.

Anyway, good for Zappos that they're cashing out. I hope the rank-and-file employees have options and get to convert those right away.
posted by GuyZero at 6:05 PM on July 22, 2009


aaargh geoff. beat me to it.
posted by dabitch at 6:06 PM on July 22, 2009


Well fuck me sideways with a size 10.5 beeswax Wallabee. Which is currently out of stock at Zappos.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:07 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Great letter from the CEO. Fingers crossed that Zappos won't change their business. But, who are we kidding?
posted by jabberjaw at 6:16 PM on July 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


They're not exactly cashing out. This is a definitive agreement, so it's a stock for stock situation. That said, it's a pretty awesome time to come into a whole lot of Amazon stock, it appears to be going nowhere but up.
posted by signalnine at 6:20 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


My fantasy is that Zappos's fantastic stock will be accessible with Endless's far-better navigation.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:21 PM on July 22, 2009


Q: Will we get a discount at Amazon?

No, because we are planning on continuing to run Zappos as a separate company with our own culture and core values. And we're not going to be giving the Zappos discount to Amazon employees either, unless they bake us cookies and deliver them in person.

posted by Skorgu at 6:26 PM on July 22, 2009


This afternoon I set out upon the Web with the intent to buy some shoes. I'd heard good things about Zappos, so I went to their web site. Apparently their fanatical awesome customer service is financed by their high prices.

I ended up buying exactly the shoes I was looking for, for $17 a pair on payless.com plus a 15% off coupon code and $6 shipping.

I would have given that business to Zappos had they had anything even approaching what I was looking for (knockoff Birkenstock Arizonas), for under $50 a pair.
posted by mrbill at 6:31 PM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


mrbill: does payless.com give you infinite free shipping and free returns on every pair of shoes for up to a year?

When I know exactly what I want (I mean brand, model and size) and I've already tried it on in the store, I buy from anyone.

When I'm looking for something like "black military-style boots" or "waterproof covered-toe sandals that I can hike in" or "dapper retro shoes to wear with a summer suit", I go to Zappos. Because a) I loathe shoe stores, they're inevitably a waste of my time, and b) I can buy 24 pairs of shoes from Zappos in several shipments and only wind up paying for one.

Shoes are an extremely personal product. They're the sort of thing it's pretty much impossible to know you'll like unless you try them on. You pay more for Zappos than you do elsewhere, but what you're paying for is a risk-free shopping experience. By the time you've actually decided to pay for something, you know that it's a pair of shoes you actually like and will wear.
posted by xthlc at 6:41 PM on July 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


I feel so strange. I bought two years' worth of prom dress shoes (hey, I got my dresses from the thrift store, I felt at liberty to splurge on shoes) from zappos.
posted by rubah at 6:51 PM on July 22, 2009


I am not people. :(
posted by zennie at 6:58 PM on July 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


mrbill - you're disappointed that Zappos doesn't sell cheap knockoffs? I'm not.
posted by jabberjaw at 7:02 PM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I won't watch these videos; I'm convinced there has to be an A-Z joke in there somewhere.
posted by pwnguin at 7:04 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can buy 24 pairs of shoes from Zappos in several shipments and only wind up paying for one.

Dear Zappos

I have discovered why your prices are so high.

Love
An Internet Sleuth
posted by DU at 7:04 PM on July 22, 2009 [9 favorites]


you're disappointed that Zappos doesn't sell cheap knockoffs? I'm not.

Maybe I should have said "same style of shoe as a Birkenstock Arizona". What I ended up buying was Airwalk brand; specifically these.

I could find nothing similar at Zappos for under $69.95.

I'd rather have cheaper prices to begin with, instead of UNLIMITED SHIPPING FREE RETURNS FOR A YEAR COMPLIMENTARY CUSTOMER SERVICE BLOWJOBS etc.
posted by mrbill at 7:13 PM on July 22, 2009


mrbill, there would be no point in offering you fanatical awesome customer service because you are clearly buying based on price alone. there is no point in trying to offer great service to a customer who will place their next order with whoever gives them the biggest discount. zappos uses great service to attract loyal customers who appreciate their service level.
posted by snofoam at 7:13 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised that there's a billion-dollar company that I've never heard of before this moment. Who are Zappos and where did they come from?
posted by Servo5678 at 7:15 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


(Is this something you'd have to have feet to know about?)
posted by Servo5678 at 7:16 PM on July 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


there would be no point in offering you fanatical awesome customer service because you are clearly buying based on price alone.

Oh my goodness, they're missing out on the critical "people who know EXACTLY what they're looking for and want it as cheap as possible" market.

Sure, next time I'm in the market for a new set of Doc Martens, I'll hit up Zappos. I'm just highly dissapointed that they had no low-end to speak of at all, because I *wanted* to give them money in exchange for a product.
posted by mrbill at 7:23 PM on July 22, 2009


Next Wal-Mart buys Amazon and then... Skynet. With comfortable, stylish footwear.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:24 PM on July 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


And then one day the gay shoes all vanish from the Zappos catalog... and the Twitter servers turn into a pile of goo on the data center floor.
posted by dw at 7:28 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Shoes?! What on earth are you people talking about?! And will this affect my beloved Cajun Crawtators?
posted by infinitywaltz at 7:29 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Don't panic! We just want you to relax and enjoy your shoes. They are very stylish and fashion-conscious. Be Cool. Step out in style. Relax and enjoy your shoes. Relax and enjoy your shoes."
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:33 PM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I would have given that business to Zappos had they had anything even approaching what I was looking for (knockoff Birkenstock Arizonas), for under $50 a pair.

So you wanted to buy the shittiest shoes you could find, and are upset because the shoes Zappos had were insufficiently shitty?

I ended up buying exactly the shoes I was looking for, for $17 a pair on payless.com plus a 15% off coupon code and $6 shipping.

So these, I bet. They're great, like a little bundle of failure wrapped up in sadness. Almost certainly made in some horrible sweatshop out of freaking panda skin or something. And they're branded Airwalk, which seems to be some sort of zombie of an actual company, pretty much existing only as a name under the same "Collective Brands" conglomerate that also owns Payless. Payless, of course, being your standard retail race-to-the-bottom hellhole that's just perfect for this kind of thing.

It's sad, too, because Birkenstocks are made in Germany by a company that seems to have been making shoes for hundreds of years, by people with healthcare and decent lives. But hey, that $100 you saved could probably buy six or seven new TVs at Wal-Mart.

Sigh.
posted by Garak at 7:35 PM on July 22, 2009 [19 favorites]


they're missing out on the critical "people who know EXACTLY what they're looking for and want it as cheap as possible" market

Yes, exactly. But that market is critical to someone else, not Zappos. Zappos has chosen a different market. Part of being successful is to do something really well, and you can really only do that by choosing not to do other things.

You wanted to exchange a certain amount of money for a certain pair of shoes at a certain price. And what you wanted did not fit into what they are doing to build a profitable business servicing a particular market with a specific value proposition or brand promise. You could want a dollar menu at a sit down restaurant. That they don't offer it is not evidence that they aren't properly attuned to the needs of customers.
posted by snofoam at 7:39 PM on July 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm just highly dissapointed that they had no low-end to speak of at all, because I *wanted* to give them money in exchange for a product.

$17 for shoes is not "low-end." It's free. You wanted shoes for free. Guess you missed that Fake Steve post a little bit down the front page.
posted by Garak at 7:41 PM on July 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


garak, i think mrbill has the right to buy whatever kind of shoes he wants without having someone yell at him over the internet.
posted by snofoam at 7:44 PM on July 22, 2009 [12 favorites]


Well, damn. I just bought from Zappos earlier this week. Ordered the shoes at 4:30pm, had my free shipping upgraded (which they typically do), had the shoes at 5:30pm the next day. They've got some awesome customer service there. Amazon better not screw it up.
posted by booksherpa at 7:54 PM on July 22, 2009


I love these, "Nothing will change" merger letters from the CEO. Later, Amazon's stock will do a curtsy, Bezo will start consolidating to appease investors with a short-term gain. Some of Zappo's team will march into Amazon's loving arms and the rest will be kicked to the curb. It just 'makes sense', redundancy and such. By then the founders have invested their sack of cash in a sophomore start-up, they might post on the new dev blog, blissfully remembering the company back when they gave a damn.

These letters are becoming more contrived than an encore at a stadium show, yet people keep clapping as if the routine wasn't staged.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 7:55 PM on July 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


Honestly, if you want to pay $17 for Birkenstock knockoffs and thumb your nose at a place like Zappos while you do it, go for it. But you get what you pay for. And the things you're not getting because you're not paying for them? Down the road they end up being important. Like arch support. And durability.

My doctor has ordered me never to buy $17 knockoff sandals again, thanks to the arch pain the last pair gave me.
posted by dw at 7:55 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


A few weeks ago, I posted a whiny little tweet about how a pair of shoes I wanted in a certain color was out of stock on Zappos.com. Within twenty minutes, I'd received an @ reply from Zappos customer service, offering to search their warehouses to see if they had any left. I sent them a message with the style and color of shoe I was looking for and within another twenty minutes I got a reply that, sadly, they didn't have any in stock, but with a helpful link to other shoes in the color I was looking for in that same brand. This, even though I'd never purchased anything from them before. When I eventually made a purchase of another style, I got free overnight shipping.

That says to me that Zappos gets two things right: customer service and social marketing. I get stupid marketing messages all the time after I mention products on Twitter. Zappos had the first (and so far only) one that was actually USEFUL to me.

Anyway, yeah, I'm a fan. The shoes I ordered were not quite right, but I'm happy to schlep them back to the UPS store and pick out something else.
posted by sugarfish at 7:59 PM on July 22, 2009


Birkenstocks are made in Germany by a company that seems to have been making shoes for hundreds of years, by people with healthcare and decent lives. But hey, that $100 you saved could probably buy six or seven new TVs at Wal-Mart.

Over the past 4-5 years, I've found that in most cases the under-$30 knockoffs (Wal-Mart, Payless, etc) wear the same and last as long as the muliple pairs of $70-$120 real Birkenstocks I've owned, including the current pair that has to go because the soles are worn completely through.

I had a reason for wanting a certain style of shoes, at a known level of quality, in a certain price range. I went to Zappos first because I'd heard great things about them. I guess I was wrong and should have spent $140 on two pair of shoes instead of $40.

Those medical bills and expenses piling up since my wife's untimely death a month ago can just be ignored in favor of German worksmanship. I'll walk into the collections office, they'll take one look at me and go "ooh, Birkenstocks", swoon, and mark the account PAID IN FULL.
posted by mrbill at 7:59 PM on July 22, 2009 [9 favorites]


snofoam, why yes he does have that right. but those airwalks arn't even close to being a knockoff of birkenstocks.
posted by billybobtoo at 8:00 PM on July 22, 2009


I'm surprised that there's a billion-dollar company that I've never heard of before this moment. Who are Zappos and where did they come from?

Have you heard of Acuity Brands, Ametek, Inc, Calpine Corp, Transocean LTD, Yingli Green Energy or all of the other 1198 companies with a market cap over 1 billion on google's stock screener tool? And those are just the publicly traded ones.
posted by delmoi at 8:02 PM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


$17 for shoes is not "low-end." It's free. You wanted shoes for free. Guess you missed that Fake Steve post a little bit down the front page.

Yes, if you buy expensive shoes the same 3rd world laborers still get exploited, but you can feel a lot better knowing some CEO made a few extra hundred million in the process.
posted by delmoi at 8:03 PM on July 22, 2009 [8 favorites]


Shoes are an extremely personal product. They're the sort of thing it's pretty much impossible to know you'll like unless you try them on. You pay more for Zappos than you do elsewhere, but what you're paying for is a risk-free shopping experience.

Do you get the same risk-free shopping experience when buying the almost completely plain red cotton t-shirt for $61?

All I can say, given the Zappos defenders, is that I'm glad someone is apparently making some decent money in this lousy economy.
posted by eye of newt at 8:05 PM on July 22, 2009


Later, Amazon's stock will do a curtsy, Bezo will start consolidating to appease investors with a short-term gain. Some of Zappo's team will march into Amazon's loving arms and the rest will be kicked to the curb. It just 'makes sense', redundancy and such. By then the founders have invested their sack of cash in a sophomore start-up, they might post on the new dev blog, blissfully remembering the company back when they gave a damn.

I don't think in the short term this is what Amazon is doing, and I doubt it's their long term plan either. Amazon has a number of little subsidiaries they're running, e.g. Amazon Fresh, that are essentially startups they've formed or bought with the mind of seeing if it can extend the brand. Amazon's doing this because they're sitting on a massive pile of cash, which they've been accumulating since 2001 to hedge against anything like the dotcom bubble burst that almost took them out.

But the other thing about Amazon is that they are so decentralized the thumb really has no idea what the index finger is doing. They haven't exactly consolidated themselves. So there's little chance, I think, that in the next year or so you'll see Zappos turn into Amazon Shoes -- they can't even consolidate in-house, so how can they effectively hoist their name onto Zappos?

That said, the founders will be gone when they can exercise their options, which is probably 2 years from now. At that point I think we may see some changes, because by then Amazon may finally have bled out enough cash that they will have no choice but to deal with their internal inefficiencies and start folding things in.
posted by dw at 8:08 PM on July 22, 2009


those airwalks arn't even close to being a knockoff of birkenstocks

this shoe is most definitely a low-end knockoff of this shoe (which is the synthetic/low-end Airzona model).

When money permits, I buy the $70 Birkenstocks. When it doesn't, I buy a pair of knockoffs from Wal-Mart (ugh) or like today, from Payless.
posted by mrbill at 8:10 PM on July 22, 2009


2nding delmoi. name brands are produced in the same places and under the same or similar conditions as the knockoffs in most cases.

i'm not sure what it means to "defend" zappos. it seems like some people in the thread appreciate the service. i've never actually bought from them, but i do admire the consistency with which they seem to pursue the goal of excellent service. it's not like they're paying their customer service employees wall street salaries, yet they still seem to give customers memorably great service. (although i guess in this day and age any great service is going to stand out.)
posted by snofoam at 8:17 PM on July 22, 2009


When my dad died a year and a half ago, I needed shoes for the viewing, and had no time to shop. I found Endless.com, which has the same customer service as Zappos, always free overnight shipping, free returns, killer clearance sales (several Birkenstocks are currently $60), a dream of a search engine, and backed by Amazon with which I was already had an account. I had Kenneth Cole leather pumps delivered to my door in less than 24 hours for under $50. I've been a loyal customer of Endless ever since.
posted by figment of my conation at 8:31 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


So these, I bet. They're great, like a little bundle of failure wrapped up in sadness

Wow, people are assholes about shoes.
posted by interrobang at 8:36 PM on July 22, 2009 [15 favorites]


Wow, people are assholes about shoes.

dude, you should see the crocs thread.
posted by snofoam at 8:40 PM on July 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


I feel sorry for the employees at Zappos. It sounds like they have a good corporate culture, something that rarely survives this kind of deal. (But maybe I'm still bitter from when I worked at Kinko's years ago.)
posted by paulg at 8:49 PM on July 22, 2009


Airwalk is a well established company. Do they make good shoes? I don't know.

Whenever I tried to buy something off the Zappos website it was never in stock. They lost me as a customer long ago, or I should say they actually never gained me as one.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:49 PM on July 22, 2009


I emailed Zappos Canada to ask if they could get me shoes that are on the Zappos USA site. The Canadian site sells the same brand, but not the same model (which I find very strange as all models of this brand (Sanuk) are made in the USA).

They wrote back and said they couldn't.

However, the rep said she searched Zappos Canada's competition for me to see if perhaps someone else stocked the models I wanted. Unfortunately, no one seems to. I found the fact that she searched very nice. However, I still wanted an explanation as to why they could bring in Model A and not Model B. No answer to that one came.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 8:55 PM on July 22, 2009


Hey, at least they weren't bought by Yahoo.
posted by felix betachat at 8:55 PM on July 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


They've got some awesome customer service there. Amazon better not screw it up.

Well, Amazon owns Endless, and having bought shoes from both Zappo's and Endless, I'd say their customer service is on par. Lately, I find the shoes I want are usually a few dollars cheaper on Endless.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:09 PM on July 22, 2009


Whenever I tried to buy something off the Zappos website it was never in stock. They lost me as a customer long ago, or I should say they actually never gained me as one.

This was true for me, as well. Maybe it's just my taste (quirky? oddball? bad?) but I would find these OMG PERFECT shoes and they were never in stock. So it was like this special website of wonderful shoes I was not allowed to buy. (Suddenly I have, "you're the fastest runner but you're not allowed to win..." going through my head.)
posted by not that girl at 9:10 PM on July 22, 2009


Never heard of Zappos before this thread, but judging by the comments some people seem pretty agressively invested in the brand. Maybe Amazon just wants to steal thier marketing department.
posted by onya at 9:53 PM on July 22, 2009


Zappos does sell cheap shoes, it just doesn't do it at zappos.com. Their discount site is 6pm.com. But you have to be willing to wait and to search to get a good price because not all shoes are available in all sizes.

(okay, for fancy euro-sized shoes, they won't be "cheap" but a pair of sexy Born boots for less than $100 is a pretty good deal. )
posted by vespabelle at 10:02 PM on July 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


Zappos' Canadian site is so laughably bad that its insulting and shouldn't even be offered. Their shipping prices are outrageous - add that to already high prices and its obvious that they don't actually want to sell in Canada - just be able to say that they can.
posted by jeffmik at 10:05 PM on July 22, 2009


2nding delmoi. name brands are produced in the same places and under the same or similar conditions as the knockoffs in most cases.

Yeah, but they were specifically talking about Birkenstocks, which are made in Germany, under German labor laws.

An interesting comparison are Betula-branded shoes (founded by a member of the Birkenstock family), which are made in China. They are cheaper than their German-made counterparts, but I've read multiple reports that they have a lower build quality, plus I'd guess the Chinese employees don't have the same standard of living as German factory workers.
posted by D.C. at 10:17 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Never heard of Zappos before this thread, but judging by the comments some people seem pretty agressively invested in the brand.

Does anybody else find anything ooky about anyone at all being "aggressively invested in" a brand? I had to get that out of the way.

So, good. Having won my meaningless moral victory against all y'all brand-enslaved chumps, I will now turn off my MacBook, strike up a Camel Light, and have the last Diet Coke of the day.
posted by ford and the prefects at 10:21 PM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'd rather have cheaper prices to begin with, instead of UNLIMITED SHIPPING FREE RETURNS FOR A YEAR COMPLIMENTARY CUSTOMER SERVICE BLOWJOBS etc.
posted by mrbill at 10:13 PM on July 22
did you just say that you'd refuse FREE BLOWJOBS?!?!
what kind of a guy are you?

:)
posted by liza at 10:22 PM on July 22, 2009


Pity, I haven't needed new shoes since Zappos came online. Excluding motorcycle boots, which they don't sell.
posted by Eideteker at 10:25 PM on July 22, 2009


totally forgot to add that i bought my eeePC from them ---as well as shoes.
the place is totally a geeky shoeista's dream :)
posted by liza at 10:25 PM on July 22, 2009


There's much muttering in this thread about the potential for Amazon to corrupt Zappo's sterling customer service. And though this is just the kind of knock-on-wood statement that will inevitably bite me on the ass, I've never had a problem with Amazon. I use them all the time. I've bought everything from a coffee mug to a replacement bowl for an ice-cream maker to books and mp3s. Things show up as promised. I've never been mischarged. I've never had a wrong item shipped, or an item left off an order. I have no idea how Amazon's customer service is, because I've never had to use them- wait, yeah I have. The first day I had the Kindle iPhone app I bought a $2 book, basically just to test the wireless delivery. Which borked. I emailed them. About an hour or so later I got an "oops, try again, we're sorry" email. The book was on my device minutes later. I guess maybe when something fucks up it all goes horribly, horribly wrong, but that has yet to happen to me in years of buying from Amazon.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:29 PM on July 22, 2009


Birkenstocks? Is it 1996 again already?
posted by Brocktoon at 10:33 PM on July 22, 2009


BitterOldPunk - Everytime I am in the US (I'm Canadian, and Amazon will not ship most products) I do an order beforehand and have it delivered to the hotel or wherever I'm staying. Their service has always been great and their prices are incredibly good, especially compared with most Canadian retail (camera equipment generally runs half price).
Its not often I say it but Zappos could actually concentrate a bit more on lowering prices and gain some more clients.
posted by jeffmik at 10:40 PM on July 22, 2009


So these, I bet. They're great, like a little bundle of failure wrapped up in sadness

that joke was better when patton oswalt did it
posted by Mikey-San at 10:46 PM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Fuck rich people.
posted by hamida2242 at 10:54 PM on July 22, 2009


Saw "ZAPPOS", read "ZALGO...

Glad I was mostly wrong.
posted by Clave at 11:26 PM on July 22, 2009


I'd rather have cheaper prices to begin with, instead of UNLIMITED SHIPPING FREE RETURNS FOR A YEAR COMPLIMENTARY CUSTOMER SERVICE BLOWJOBS etc.

Yeah, I'm always gonna go with the blowjobs myself.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:59 PM on July 22, 2009


including the current pair that has to go because the soles are worn completely through.

If you have a pair of Birkenstocks with the sole worn through, you should be able to mail them to the company and get a new sole put on, with the original uppers cleaned and reused. Last time I did it (10 years ago or so), it was $30, and the sandals came back looking nearly brand new.
posted by LooseFilter at 1:19 AM on July 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


b) I can buy 24 pairs of shoes from Zappos in several shipments and only wind up paying for one.

You know there's this really awesome place where you can go to where they'll let you try on shoes all day long, and only pay when you've found a pair that fits right without even having to ship them. So you can have the right pair of shoes that fit the same day you started.

What's really nice about this place is it employs local people for customer service, and you aren't wasting fossil fuels shipping one pair of shoes back and forth 24 times. The only drawback is you actually have to step away from the internet for a few hours to get there. Oh, and you also have to interact with real people, too.
posted by SteveInMaine at 1:49 AM on July 23, 2009 [8 favorites]


I'm surprised that there's a billion-dollar company that I've never heard of before this moment.

I was amused there was a post about them on this site from 1999. I didn't realize they were that old.
posted by smackfu at 5:39 AM on July 23, 2009


this really awesome place where you can go

Does this really awesome place have an entire warehouse of women's size 10s? Cause I need to go there if they do. At most places I have a choice between drag shoes or nun shoes.

I would really prefer to try things on but those of us "on the margins" are getting pushed online more and more.
posted by JoanArkham at 5:40 AM on July 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


YouTube, huh?

I know he cultivates a sort of aw-shucks nice guy persona, but the way he's been gee-whillickersing around every media outlet for the last year or so, I swear Jeff Bezos loves watching himself talk even more than Steve Jobs.
posted by rokusan at 5:50 AM on July 23, 2009


You know there's this really awesome place where you can go to where they'll let you try on shoes all day long, and only pay when you've found a pair that fits right without even having to ship them. So you can have the right pair of shoes that fit the same day you started.

Um, where is that?

Every shoe store I've ever gone into has been exercise in failure, frustration and sadness. I'm not that unusual a size, it's just that I seldom like anything I find in a shoe store, and it's guaranteed that the one thing I like they'll be out of in my size. It's almost always a waste of two hours of my time, spent waiting for the clerk to wander back and forth looking for my shoes and dithering over which of my two choices I dislike the least. An online store gives me more selection, less time spent, and a pair of shoes I'm happy with, as long as I'm willing to delay my gratification a little.

And given that I don't own a car, ride my bike everywhere, fly maybe twice a year, eat vegetarian and local whenever I can, and buy carbon offsets for my electricity, I feel about as fine about my carbon footprint as an American can, thanks.

The only drawback is you actually have to step away from the internet for a few hours to get there. Oh, and you also have to interact with real people, too.

Really? Did you really just use the Internet to call me a dork who uses the Internet too much?
posted by xthlc at 6:10 AM on July 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


You know there's this really awesome place where you can go to where they'll let you try on shoes all day long, and only pay when you've found a pair that fits right without even having to ship them.

Yes, it's called Zappo's Outlet! It's about an hour away from me and I make my pilgrimage there every couple months. Those shoes people shipped back have to go somewhere and they sell them in a store attached to the warehouse, usually for *drastically* reduced prices. I got a flawless $400 pair of Donald J. Pliner pumps for $45 last time I went. The best part is there are aisles and aisles of size 10/11 women's shoes. Love that place.
I just hope it stays the way it is post Amazon. :whimper:
posted by hecho de la basura at 6:22 AM on July 23, 2009


Really? Did you really just use the Internet to call me a dork who uses the Internet too much?

I apologize for the snark. It's the result of being married to somebody who works in retail. I hear stories about customers who purchase things on the internet, then when the item isn't right attempt to return it to the shop she works in because they don't want the hassle of shipping the item back, and besides "it's the same brand, you can return it, can't you?" The answer to that is "no."

While there's no doubt that local retailers must do what they can to remain competitive with online sellers, generally the advantages of shopping locally are that you can see and feel the product in person, the item is available immediately, and if the retailer hopes to stay in business their service is better than what you'll find online.

Bottom line is it just seems to me if you're buying a fairly standard shoe you might be better served purchasing at least the first pair locally so you don't need to keep shipping them back if they don't fit.

Signed,

A dork who uses the Internet too much.
posted by SteveInMaine at 6:51 AM on July 23, 2009


I really hope this is going to enable zappos, who I used a lot back when I was living in the US, to use amazons european warehouses.

it's just impossible to buy shoes from them right now and have them shipped to europe. the intl shipping rates are ridiculous to begin with and then you get hit by customs import duties and by the time you actually wear your kicks you've ended up having paid 50% more than the already only sort-of-okay retail price.

this is a real problem for me. I have run through 11 pairs of my running shoes over the years (nearly all bought from zappos) and they're just not for sale in europe. my only option to save a bit on them is to have someone accept the shipment stateside and repackage them sans box and tags. you can only do that once or twice before people get ticked off and right now I have nobody to ask.

so here it's all yay amazon. please help zappos expand.
posted by krautland at 7:46 AM on July 23, 2009


Sheesh, folks .. this is the Best of the Web?

A freakin' shoe-snark fest ...
posted by aldus_manutius at 8:30 AM on July 23, 2009


Wait a minute, SteveInMaine, are you saying people buy something from an online store then try to return it to your wife's store--and these are two completely different companies we're talking about? Like, I buy a widget from www.allwidgetsallthetime.com and try to return it to a brick-and-morter Sur La Widget? That's insane.

I mean, when I worked at Macy's people would do in-store returns for online purchases. We accepted the return even if it were for a brand we didn't carry in that particular Macy's. We'd even take returns from Bloomingdale's since they're the same company. And that's fine, that's just customer service. But I don't think anyone was ever crazy enough to try to return an Anne Klein blouse to us if they bought it from the Nordstrom website even though both stores carry Anne Klein. People are insane.

Sorry for derailing. You just blew my mind is all.
posted by Neofelis at 9:14 AM on July 23, 2009


Honestly, I miss the old Zappos format and the wider range of brands they used to carry. Fornarina, Swear, New Rock--all these seem gone now. Their drill-down options are crap, and I used to love Amazon but hate it now (I've actually had bait-and-switch experiences, waited 3-4 weeks for "rush shipping" and a bunch of other bs I'm too lazy to comment-bitch about now).

Customer service there is the best in the online business and has been for a while, but I would rather they continued to carry some obscure, hard-to-find shoes, like platform Sugar trainers, rather than adding 6,000 pieces of clothing I'll never buy and watches and sunglasses and other kipple that watered down the Zappos experience completely.

If you go to Vegas, there is a shuttle bus that'll pick you up from most of the major casinos/hotels and take you to the Zappos home location. It's awesome; if you're going to Vegas soon, I recommend it!
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:00 AM on July 23, 2009


This article says that Zappos was forced by some of their VCs to sell to Amazon.
posted by mrbill at 11:18 AM on July 23, 2009


Birkenstocks? Is it 1996 again already?

Here in Seattle, it will always be the mid-90s.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:09 PM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait a minute, SteveInMaine, are you saying people buy something from an online store then try to return it to your wife's store--and these are two completely different companies we're talking about? Like, I buy a widget from www.allwidgetsallthetime.com and try to return it to a brick-and-morter Sur La Widget? That's insane.

That's exactly what happens, and by that I mean multiple times.
posted by SteveInMaine at 3:17 AM on July 24, 2009


Metafilter: Overthinking a pair of shoes.
posted by mrbill at 11:40 PM on July 25, 2009


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