While Zappos.com is known for its free and fast shipping and returns, the online shoe and clothing retailer doesn’t always promote those perks when it comes to acquiring new customers. Instead, with the recent revamp of its VIP program, the Amazon-owned company has used loyalty programs to increase revenue and build stronger relationships with its customers.
“We shy away from heavy promotions—where we’re trying to go is beyond that,” says Joe Grusman, general manager of ecommerce marketing at Zappos. “With our Zappos VIP program, we’re giving users additional value propositions like UPS pickup or refunds on first scan. We lead with customer service over promotion.”
One season after the fall 2019 launch, the new Zappos VIP program is proving to be lucrative for the shoe merchant. The retailer’s VIP program and customer-first attitude has led to millions of customers enrolling, Grusman says without revealing specifics.
“We are a customer service company, as such, we obsess over the customer,” Grusman says. “How can we make her or his life easier, how can we get the product she or he wants faster? It is easy to ask these questions, but the marketing teams constantly push ourselves to make sure every link, every click, every email is the best possible experience for our customer.”
The creation of the Zappos VIP program—which launched as an effort to revamp its former tiered rewards program—came from tested customer feedback, Grusman says. The new program includes free next business day shipping with no minimum purchase, rapid refunds on returns, double points for Amazon Prime members, additional point-earning opportunities such as 10 points for reviewing products, and bonus points on select brands.
“Our customers love free shipping and free returns,” Grusman says. “We took that customer feedback and offered any customer that signs up for Zappos VIP free next business day shipping on any purchase. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.”
The perks of loyalty programs like the one Zappos rolled out are echoed in consumer insights research. For instance, in an October 2018 loyalty survey by Digital Commerce 360 and Bizrate Insights, 83% of those online shoppers surveyed said that they were somewhat or very satisfied with the loyalty programs they belonged to.
The top-rated perks shoppers want are free shipping and rewards points they can use for discounts, according to the same survey.
With free shipping as a top choice for loyalty programs, Zappos has been trying to put its best foot forward.
“Fast shipping is in our DNA,” Grusman says. “We lead with customer service, and if you order a package at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday and get your shoes the next day for free, that is a ‘wow’ moment.”
Zappos is owned by Amazon.com, No. 1 in the Digital Commerce 360 Top 500.