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What's Tech Working On?

New Classification tool streamlines the merchandising experience...

Before a product goes live on our site, the merchandising team must classify it. Previously, this process was excruciatingly slow and inefficient. This made it difficult for merchandisers to get products to our customers…and we certainly don’t want that.

Now, thanks to Dean Curtis and the catalog department, the classification process is 90x faster overall than the original. In cases where products had many styles, it could take an hour or more to classify. But with the new tool, this same task can be accomplished in minutes.

The project started out initially to simply improve the 1.0 version of the tool. The team decided instead to go with a complete re-write.  The project took 3 months and the combined talent of all 5 members of the catalog team.  The development process was complicated further by almost constant attacks from the neighboring dev horde. It was only through teamwork, stamina, and high-castle walls that they were able to deliver this project to the waiting public.

The Catagorians, as they like to be called, border the UX team territory in the 2290 building. Come by the castle and say “Hi!” anytime!

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Downloading Core Values

Part 1: Three Square

In an effort to "Deliver Wow Through Service" and "Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit", part of the Project Management team spent a Thursday morning volunteering at a Three Square Event called "Backpack for Kids" - Give Back, Fill a Pack.

The Backpack program is designed to meet the needs of hungry children at times such as weekends and school vacations. The volunteers pack kid-friendly foods into bags that will be delivered to the kids at the end of the school day on Fridays. There are several activities occurring during the Backpack session which include stuffing bags with food, replenishing stock, tying the bags and placing them into the school bins.

The Backpack program schedule is Tuesday and Wednesday 5:30pm - 7:30pm and Thursdays 9:30am - 11:30am. There are 50 spots available for volunteers for each shift.

Comments by Corey:
"The Three Square event was great! The Zappos team was there along with volunteers from University of Phoenix and others in the community. In the two plus hours we were there, we filled 2,880 bags for children in need. The event was not just a well planned excursion and break from the “non-routine” here at Zappos, but a great opportunity to lend a helping hand to a very deserving cause, and come together as a team in the process. At the end of the day, I think all involved felt a sense of gratitude for the opportunity to be there, and a desire to go back and do it again… because I know I did!"

Part 2: The Breakfast Club

In an effort to "Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit", our own Back Office Systems and Financial Systems groups showed some love to Finance on December 2 by…

Masterfully flipping 250 pancakes, delicately cracking 8 doz. eggs, expertly frying 144 slices of bacon and 50 sausage links, and they totally lost count when it came to the waffles. Ahhhhhhhh Waaaaaffles!

There is no better way to start a 12-14 hour day than with breakfast. “The Breakfast Club” set up the griddles and fry pans over in the 2300 break room and served up a healthy dose of Core Value #7 to the 60 (+/-) team members in Finance.

Our Finance department does an amazing job each and every month to collect, reconcile, and analyze all the financial data and close the books inside of 2 DAYS!! It wasn’t too long ago when it took 7 days to close the books.  Kudos “The Breakfast Club” for showing the love through pancakes.

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4th Annual Tech Team Donut Eating Contest

The Tech team is at it again, and this time they are out to break some records. We have hosted several competitive eating contests in the Zappos HQ, but this is the granddaddy of them all. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the 4th Annual Tech Team Donut Eating Contest.

 

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Letter From Our CTO

Hi Team – welcome to the final Technology Newsletter for 2010! WOW - what a year this has been! As we discussed at tech all hands, we've had incredible successes by over-delivering on the roadmap and doing a spectacular job running a robust technology operation. There were many naysayers when we laid out our goals for the year but this team has collectively proven that we DELIVER ON OUR COMMITMENTS regardless of the difficulty or complexity of those commitments! We are in the midst of a very heavy peak season and it is clear that our work has paid off – a rock solid, error free and super fast website (our technology handled a $12.8M day flawlessly!) , an array of website features, unprecedented visibility into our business for merchandising and finance via the EDW, our ability to respond quickly to business changes via tools like Baffin and the Drools Rules Engine, APIs that have enabled us to deliver our ipad and iphone apps in record time, our newly minted category agnostic technology platform (away from a shoe centric platform) aka sizing, that takes findability/customer experience to the next level and so much more…

We go into 2011 with great confidence that we can take on any challenge that comes our way!! Our 2011 roadmap is being worked on by team members from all departments across technology in partnership with business teams – look for this to be published in the coming weeks!

Once again, I want to convey my most sincere thanks to this team that has gone above and beyond to deliver a spectacular 2010 for the Zappos Family– here's to an even more spectacular 2011!

 

Thank you and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Arun

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Shop From Your iPhone and iPad

That's right. Thanks to the combined efforts of multiple departments within Zappos tech, users of the Apple iPad and iPhone can shop at Zappos.com anytime and from anywhere.

To get started a customer just needs to download the fee app from the iTunes app store and start shopping. The customer will see the familiar brand styling and identical catalogue to our "regular" site. In addition, the mobile application adds some extra functionality not found on the website. For example, users on the mobile app can simply tap, pinch and swipe to easily navigate the storefront. And thanks to the great work of our API team, customers can shop with confidence, as the app even offers secure transactions.

So far, iTunes has served up 70,000 downloads of the free Zappos Mobile App, we've had a near-constant 4 star rating, and we were even highlighted in Apple's featured shopping Apps section!

Each app required close to 10 weeks to complete. Development required the bulk of the time at close to 6 weeks. This is a remarkably efficient turnaround based on the complexity of the application and relative unfamiliarity tech had with the format. The most interesting hurdle that they had to overcome was that the team couldn't view the complete app until the very end when all the various components are included. At that point, it was a mad dash to put the final touches on the app, get all the QA done, and release the app to the public.

The team that brought Zappos.com to our adoring and tech savvy public is comprised of all-stars from various departments. The UX team designed the customer-friendly look and feel. The DEV team provided the underlying code to support this highly-functional app while the QA team kept everyone honest by making sure no "bugs' made it to the final app. Special thanks also to the CLT for fielding customer support inquiries and keeping our customers happy. Finally, the Product/Program Management team wrangled all of these teams into one cohesive, efficient and creative whole. We've all been busy working on various projects, and it's been humbling to see these teams come together to take advantage of this evolving segment of the market.

Next up, will be the development of apps for the Android and Chrome OS. Like all projects that we get passionate about, the team will also constantly tweak, update and improve the current apps. Feel free to stop by and say hi to the team! They're sequestered in the Penn and Teller room in building 2290!

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Downloading Core Values

Donut Eating Contest

In an effort to "Create Fun and A Little Weirdness" and "Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit" the Tech teams in Las Vegas and Kentucky held their Fourth Annual Tech Donut Eating Contest.  The donut eating contest was open to anyone in the tech team whether contractor/employee, manager/non-manager, male/female or pro/amateur. This year, we were even able to include the folks KY "real-time" thanks to our SKYPE-enabled video conferencing system.

Once ground rules were communicated and donuts placed strategically, the participants prepared themselves for the challenge ahead. And they’re off! The atmosphere was electric with spectators packed 4 to 6 deep in the specially designed arena. Many fans were holding signs for their favorite participant and chanting well-rehearsed cheers. The most zealous of fans were even standing on desks and chairs/couches to see their favored participants, much to chagrin of our risk team. Spectators strained to hear the designated "counters" as the donuts were consumed. The throng became even more frenzied as the contestants blew past last year's record (Brent Cromley) of 15 without a hint of slowing down.  Finally, the crowd gave a collective gasp as Bryan Merrill's counter yelled "24!", and the final second ticked off. Wow! 24 donuts! Bryan Merrill buried the last year's record. Much like Zappos doing 12.4 million on Cyber Monday and burying the 7.8 million from 2009!). Brent graciously handed the gold-encased trophy to Bryan. And now it's time to train for next year!

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Zappos IP, Inc. Is Looking For "A Few Good Developers"

Zappos IP, Inc. is hiring developers , development jobs in SF LV

This quarter’s Tech All Hands meeting was a rousing success! In addition to covering all of the new and exciting work that’s gone on in the past several months like:

Zappos.com iPad and iPhone Apps went live!- Customers can now shop on their iPhones and iPads as well as their computers and our 1-800 number.

Public API! - We launched our public API (http://developer.zappos.com) that allows the developer community to build their own applications with Zappos data.Zappos uses the API inhouse to power our mobile apps as well as various functions throughout the actual website.

Sizing Project Completed! - Reinvented how product measurement data is stored and processed to make it easier than ever to find the perfect fit for nearly any type of product.

And celebrating the team’s successes with awards, acknowledgements, and drinks like:
Grey Goose shots
Tequila shots
More Grey Goose shots

Everyone’s favorite CTO, Arun (pictured above),announced that Zappos IP, Inc. will be opening an office in SF. Will Young will be heading up the new office and had this to say:

“We are very excited to be opening up a small San Francisco office.  We’re jazzed to go back to the Zappos Family's Bay Area roots and surround ourselves by the many amazing people and companies who make the world a happier place through technology, arts and culture. The San Francisco office in some ways will be a mini-start-up within the Zappos Family.  Our office is going to focus on experimentation, incubation and off roadmap projects.  We will want to try a lot of fun and new zany things that might become the future of how people shop online or may end up in the huge pile of unused ideas “that sounded good at the time”.  We’re eager to work and partner with great Bay Area companies to really put out some WOW.”

We were entertained along the way with videos and skits covering everything from hunting bears (don’t ask) to “Zappos Next Live Model” featuring men in drag (you may not want to watch it).  But by far, the favorite video of the night featured a rendition of a well-known and loved scene from “A Few Good Men.” Check out our version below.

Everyone is super excited about the great work the team has done in 2010 and looking forward to 2011.  We are looking for “A Few Good Developers” to join both our Las Vegas and SF teams. And by “a few” we mean a lot!!!!! Check out all of the tech openings HERE

 

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Zappos iPhone App!

Shop from the palm of your hand with the new Zappos iPhone app!