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What Zappos has planned for RideShop

By Tiffany Montgomery
September 09, 2008 5:41 AM

Zappos is increasingly doing more business in the action sports industry with RideShop, its site within a site that sells action sports apparel and goods from nearly every brand.

Many of us heard Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh speak at the SIMA Surf Summit in Cabo this year about the Zappos culture, but I also wanted to learn more about RideShop.

Asst. Buyer Josh Schlekewy answered my questions in collaboration with the buying team, several of whom were at ASR.

One especially interesting note: RideShop will move into selling snow hardgoods this holiday season.

Why did Zappos start Ride Shop?
Since Zappos inception in 1998, the focus of the business has always revolved around service to the customer. Offering "what the customer wants," has always been the primary business model for Zappos.com. The action sports industry was one of the initial categories brought on by our original buying team. From there, we put our heads together and decided to create a RideShop that is more stylistically focused on the interests of our target audience. We also wanted to create sort of a concept shop for the core customer so that when they click RideShop it has more of an appealing look and feel for that customer.

How is business going so far?
Business is good. As a category, the RideShop is up about 29 percent from last year. (Zappos overall) will hit our goal of $1 billion gross retail sales by the end of 2008.

Is there any difference in approach or techniques between the regular Zappos site and RideShop?
When it comes down to it, there is no real difference in operation or functionality between Zappos.com and the RideShop@Zappos.com. A good way to think of it would be as if Zappos were a shopping mall. One mall can have everything from sporting goods, to fashion boutiques, kids stores and skate/surf shops. We wanted to create a specialized "one stop shop" for the action sports customer to buy whatever they want in a comfortable online environment.

How big revenue-wise do you think RideShop can be?
To come up with a dollar amount would be almost impossible. We believe that customers are continuously becoming more tech savvy and are equally becoming more reluctant to travel all over the place to go shopping. We take pride on offering a wide variety of products with the highest standards of customer service. In most circumstances, customers can order from us at 1 p.m. Pacific time and have their order on their door step ready for their weekend surf trip less than 24 hours later. That being said, we truly believe that the possibilities are limitless.

I have heard some retailers in the action sports industry say they can't compete with the Zappos offer of free shipping both ways and lower prices. If you met these retailers, what would be your response to that sentiment?
It comes down to customer service. Take away the shoes, apparel, watches and eyewear, and we simply provide a quality service to our customers. As far as prices go we are a full margin retailer and consider ourselves to be very competitive with price and what's going on in the marketplace. We are extremely open to our competitors and encourage them to thrive in their business. Competition is healthy and is the only way our industry can progress.

Any brands, trends or categories that are doing particularly well lately?
Since apparel is somewhat of a new category for us we are making a bigger push there for 2009. Also we are very excited to launch snow hardgoods this holiday season. We are offering a complete snow package (boards and bindings) to complement our existing boots, goggles, and outerwear program. The apparel category (overall at Zappos) has really started to develop for us and we are hoping to make it 15 percent of our total company's sales next year.

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