Cinderella’s motto was: ”One shoe can change your life.” The Sisters’ motto is: “One shoe store has changed our lives!” Discovering Zappos.com years ago has been the “land of dreams come true” for two Southern sisters with feet as difficult to fit as Cinderella’s! (Think size 5.5 and 6N…) The added bonus of seeing hundreds of shoes from every conceivable angle without leaving the comfort of our homes can only be topped by Zappos saving the best surprises for last: free shipping both ways and delivery the next business day. Can you say INSTANT gratification?
The real reason for this note is to thank the “team members” in charge of shipping and receiving who spend their days inside the Shepherdsville, Kentucky, Zappos facility. My sister’s birthday present to herself and a sister surprise for me was a visit to Zappos in May 2009. This was a true fantasy adventure loaded with perks.
Prior to our flight to Louisville, while selecting magazines at the airport, Sissy found one with an article about Zappos and their CEO, Tony Hsieh. At that point, I had no idea of the significance of ‘the find’ except that we both love Zappos! Just before boarding, Sissy gave me the itinerary of our adventure for the day and many screams later, we arrived in Louisville. A quick twenty minute drive had us at the front door of the shipping/receiving/outlet of Zappos. Ever wonder how your shoes magically arrive the next day? Hmmm… Louisville is the hub for UPS.
On arrival, the plasma screen in the lobby was flashing a “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” greeting to my sister Alicia. That was cool enough, but was only the beginning of a wild afternoon with the Zappos team members. Sissy asked everyone who materialized in the lobby to sign her magazine while we awaited Stefanie, the representative who created this magical event. Her energy came through the door before she did and we seemed to hit warp speed as she ushered us through the security “phone booth” and into the Internet Café where team members were yelling “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”; waving pom-poms and directing our attention to a birthday cake, crown & huge Zappos bags filled with goodies for us. After much singing, signing (the magazine) and cake eating, we were introduced to the elusive, Craig A.. He even offered to take Sissy’s magazine to Las Vegas and ask Tony Hsieh to autograph it for her!
Then, it was tour time with Byron and Julie. As a member of the photo department, Julie creates many of the incredible photo shots of clothing, shoes and other items found on the website. Nine shots of each shoe in every color, any way you do the math, that’s a lot of shots! She had been asked to create a photo journal of our visit and as an aside, to answer all my questions. Believe it or not, as we passed through the photo department we interrupted a staff meeting (where someone was wearing a pirate hat and parrot) and folks stopped the chatter to yell, “Happy Birthday”.
Byron was the enthusiastic tour leader who was educating and entertaining us about how each area of the facility functions. At several locations, Sissy was encouraged by Byron to test her skills in the multiple roles of Zappos’ team members. Her favorite job was that of “picker”. She loved the idea of being paid to walk up to 14 miles per day. If you thought that the products that you order get to you by an automated method; think again. Real people pull, pack and ship those babies! Being a nerd, I was fascinated by the “Kivas”, the robots of Zappos. There are 70 of these little orange critters scurrying from station to station in a room the size of a university football stadium and each one has its own name, courtesy of members with senior status.
Following our personalized tour, we had time to visit the outlet store where Sissy was especially taken with a pair of Marc Jacobs denim heels with zippers and bling. I couldn’t get over a pair of “clear” mules (think ‘glass slippers’) with 5 inch heels. Meanwhile, dear Julie was snapping away and laughing as we tried on the most outrageous, the most expensive, the most beautiful and even a few conservative pairs. If I had more grace while hobbling across the floor, I would have come home with RED stilettos!
Customer service really does give Zappos the edge; every member we met had energy, enthusiasm and devotion, not only for Zappos, but for their colleagues. We would love to meet Tony! Then we could thank him for encouraging his team members to exceed the customer’s expectations in any and every way possible. The folks in Shepherdsville earned our respect and gratitude. Stefanie, thank you, thank you, thank you for creating an experience that certainly qualifies as “the adventure of our year” and a birthday extravaganza that no one can top! Overall, it was a fantasy come true where our every thought was anticipated and fulfilled. Customer service exceeded excellence.
And yes, we called and e-mailed everyone we knew about our visit as soon as we got home that evening.
Totally devoted to Zappos…Valerie & Alicia (the birthday girl)
P.S. You must have a reservation to tour the facility.
Written by: Valerie O. and Alicia L.