ZAPPOS.COM CASE STUDY
Revenue = Over $1 Billion
Sales Qty = Average of 28,000 packages shipped per day
Net Profit = 10%
Success = $1 Million to $1 Billion in ten years
This is a comparison of Zappos.com. Arguably one of the most successful online retailers today. In this comparison we will take Zappos earliest incarnation (1999) and compare it to it latest beta, or ‘zeta’ version of its website. (Disclaimer-The Zappos Zeta site is in beta and actively being developed, so it changes daily.)
By scrutinizing the differences between both versions of this site we can determine which designs, colors, graphics, call to actions where changed in order to increase sales and/or conversions. Let’s begin with the overall design.
Its very interesting to view the beta version of Zappos.com. since Amazon purchased it. One can assume that the web dev team at Amazon is somehow involved with the site’s overhaul. What we’re seeing is Amazon’s take on the Zappos website. The horizontal, wide layout. The navigation, simplified graphics, it smells just like Amazon.com. By studying this site for the next month or so we can observe the Amazon team at work.
Update: Some of our readers commented that the Zeta version was up before the Amazon Acquisition. This is correct and we are well aware of this, however we still believe that Amazon had influence in the way Zappos.com looks today and we expect to see more changes soon. We will be watching closely.
LOGO – Figure (a)
Logo has not changed too much over the years. The original logo used a footprint that symbolized an exclamation mark. It now sports a more traditional exclamation mark. The dot was changed to a perfect circle and separated from the vertical stroke. In addition, the exclamation mark was converted to one color rather than two color to simplify and reduce the visual ‘noise’. Give them another few years and I’ll bet they’ll remove the hidden z within the exclamation mark altogether. The tag-line changed of course. It went from ‘the worlds largest shoe store’ to ‘powered by service’. Which is smart. Zappos has already established itself as a huge virtual shoe store. That is no longer a novel idea like it was in 1999. Zappos built quite a following on their exemplary service alone. Shipping is always free, returns and exchanges are almost too easy, and most importantly, you will NEVER speak to a recording, it will always be a person on the other end of the line. It makes perfect sense for them to change their tag-line to highlight what makes them different.
MAIN NAVIGATION – Figure (b)
The main navigation has been expanded to include bags, housewares and beauty supplies. Rather than having two duplicate sets of buttons, i.e., the women section for dress, casual, athletic and the men section for dress, casual, athletic. They removed those duplicates and fleshed out the filtering system. They added an alphabetical list of all their products. This makes much more sense. Users are very educated nowadays and usually have a very definite idea of what they want to purchase online. Offering the user the ability to immediately navigate to their brand of choice is priceless and can save 5-10 clicks at least.
UTILITY NAVIGATION – Figure (c)
The utility navigation usually includes links and tools for repeat customers. It is meant to streamline the user experience. In the first version they have customer service, shopping bag, and acct/register links stacked on top of each other. Not the greatest, but not bad by 1999 standards. The new utility navigation offers EVERYTHING a return customer could want at a moments glance. Placed at the very top the website. Featured in the utility nav is the 24/7 customer service number and a separate number for spanish speakers. Pretty logical if you think about it. Front and center in the utility nav is the shopping cart button that is impossible to miss. On the right is access to ‘log in and register’, ‘my account’, ‘favorites’ and ‘help’ links laid out horizontally.
SEARCH FUNCTION – Figure (d)
The search function has different filters that allow you more targeted searches; search by size; search by width; search by price. In 1999 this search function was on the lower left and the filter links were stacked on top of each other. Today its been moved to the top utility nav section and the filter links have again been laid into a horizontal format.
CALL TO ACTIONS – Figure (e)
The “Free Shipping & No Sales Tax” call to action was almost hidden in the first version of the website. In the new version The color has been changed to an alarming red. It has been reworded to, “Free Shipping Both Ways! 365-Day Return Policy”. The sales tax bit has been dropped. They expand on their shipping policy and neatly tie it into their return policy. In one fell swoop they have appeased 90% of all users. In the early version they might not have fully realized the power of their 24/7 (human) customer service. So they didn’t make a big deal out of it. Nowadays, they realize that its the driving force behind their brand. As you can see they feature it as prominently as they do their free shipping and return policies.
CONTENT AREA – Figure (f)
The content area on the early site is insignificant. In the new version they have gone with your standard featured content slider. A large image with a good call to action. ‘FIND Your Style Boot’ Below the main image the slider navigation highlighting their new categories: bag, beauty and housewares.
Disclaimer: The observations would be more complete if we had analytic information to analyze the results of site optimizations.