Zappos: If You Are Great at Something – Let It Go… (Or Resell It)

I am fascinated by what I see as Zappos’ ongoing evolution from a simple, online retailer to a leading online innovator. A few months back I wrote about Zappos pioneering what I called “Experience Syndication” with their Powered by Zappos (PBZ) service. In brief, PBZ syndicates the end-to-end value of shopping with Zappos – from the online store experience to shipping, to returns, to the call center – everything. Clarks Shoes, Stuart Weitzman and many other online sites are providing a customer experience entirely syndicated by Zappos.

Last night I saw CEO Tony Hsieh’s tweet about Zappos Insights – a paid membership site “that allows ‘Fortune one million’ companies to gain insights from the learnings of The site will allow access to management and contacts and provide guidance and direct answers for user generated questions via video responses.”

If PBZ syndicates the customer experience, Zappos Insights is syndicating the internal business experience; providing a window into the leadership and culture that has made Zappos such a successful business. What is so radical about this is the notion that Zappos is willing to let go of the very thing that makes them so exceptional.

What other company would you like to see create a similar service?

  • I assume Zappos is happy to pass on the insight in the belief it will keep ahead of the crowd and that it is has so much momentum it will make copying difficult.

  • I’d like to see a service like this from O’Reilly :-)

    The service could access to O’Reilly people who know things like how to spot emerging trends, how to build a network of alpha geeks to show you those trends before they are obvious, how to run effective unconference events like Foo Camps, and even how to create effective documentation for products that won’t support a commercial third-party book. And lots more.

  • I think Zappos has good reason to think it can stay ahead of the crowd – Toyota shared all their manufacturing “secrets” and have been studied by other companies up-close and personal for 15 years — by sending teams and teams of people to Japan for months at a time……nobody has been able to duplicate their manufacturing success. Why? It’s the culture not the process! – and getting your management on board with big culture shifts is incredibly difficult.

  • Sharing knowledge is nothing wrong, in fact when you teach someone else, you learn something new, that is the beauty of it. Seth Godin is one example. I would like to see Zappos service in local shops.

  • A pretty obvious one would be access to Apple’s management, especially in terms of innovation and marketing. I’ll bet they have some good stuff.


  • Being involved with many startup ecommerce companies, I think what Zappos doing with Zappos Insights project is great.

    There are many young startups who’d learn a lot from Zappos management’s experiences.

    I also agree with Joshua-Michéle’s comment; It’s more about the culture than the process itself.

    Congrats to Zappos and good luck.

    Ahmet Kirtok