How Zappos Makes Mobile Unique

Zappos is a darling of the marketing industry for its progressive approach to brand building. Its willingness to go its own way in matters like offering new employees $2,000 to quit and a laser focus on customer service are talking points for those preaching progressive brand building. That willingness to be unique also carries over to mobile.

Visitors to the Zappos site from a mobile device won’t just get a replication of the desktop experience. Instead, they’ll be able to get a 360-degree view of products and receive push notifications for when items come back in stock. In this way, the app and mobile site are “uniquely mobile.”

“Mobile strives to provide the best service and selection possible and a customer-centric approach to designing our experiences,” said Alex Kirmse, head of mobile at Zappos. “We cater to our existing customers who expect to do all the same things they could normally do when interacting with the Zappos store: browse, search, favorite, view and buy, but at the same time wow our customers by taking advantage of new mobile contexts and capabilities that didn’t exist before. Phones and tablets allow on-the-go shopping, touch interfaces, time sensitive push notifications and the ability to reach our customers when they are away from their computers.”

Zappos being Zappos, mobile isn’t just about usability. There’s some oddball stuff. For example, when launching its iPad app around Easter last year, Zappos hid an Easter egg on the app’s homepage. Consumers were able to see it if they shook their iPad while on the homepage screen. Don’t kill yourself finding it now. It isn’t there anymore.

“We’re seeing this from our sales, analytics and data that reaffirms that mobile is growing at an explosive rate,” Kirmse said. “As touched on earlier, customers are no longer accessing the Web via just desktop computers but from their phones and tablets in more everyday-life scenarios, and Zappos, having mobile-optimized destinations, definitely takes advantage of that.”

Currently, Zappos has three shopping apps for iPhone, iPad and Android, a mobile-optimized site at and the ZN Magazine app, which is a more lifestyle, visual-driven app featuring products that can be bought in-app. Kirmse said that what is most interesting thing about Zappos’ mobile efforts is how the brand’s mobile commerce destinations are complementing the other Web channels rather than competing with them.

“We’re seeing late evenings and weekends being our higher traffic times for mobile, which, in many cases, extends our shopping days,” he said.

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