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6 Experimental Marketing Programs From Zappos Labs

Zappos Labs is an innovative arm of the retailer’s marketing department that experiments with new technologies. The company uses the lab to explore new tools, which could change the way people shop. “They are constantly testing,” says Sucharita Mulpuru, VP and principal analyst at Forrester Research. “Some things work, some things don’t work. But they’re doing a great job exploring the potential of what’s out there.”

1. PinPointing: Zappos knows that Pinterest users love to share photos of their favorite outfits and shoes. To tap into this enthusiasm and make it easier to shop, the retailer created a Pinterest app with an e-commerce capability called PinPointing. The app lets users share images of their favorite shoes, handbags, and clothing and view items pinned by others. The app uses keywords to recommend Zappos products that might relate to their previous pins. It also shares items that have recently been pinned by others.

2. Glance: Zappos’ curated shopping tool is a fashion blog meets digital catalog that helps shoppers find products based on the latest trends. The website is a lot like a magazine in that it shows off the latest fashions, gives tips on how to put together outfits, and gives readers in-depth looks at items like modernist dresses.

3. Zappos Weather: Zappos has tapped into the popularity of weather apps with its own take on the subject. The tool uses a consumer’s location to serve up a weather report for her area. But instead of just reporting, say, rain or snow, the app also suggests the products (e.g., raincoat, snow boots) that would fit the weather.

4. Zappos TV: The online retailer’s experiment with online video reviews is like HSN for the Internet generation. It stars Zappos employees trying on clothes, testing out handbags, and giving general reports on items by checking them out up close and personal.

5. Zappos Map: This mapping tool plots all Zappos purchases on a Google map of the United States in real time. Viewers can watch the map to see orders placed across the country; for example, rain boots purchased in Philadelphia pop up on the map followed moments later by flip-flops bought in San Diego. The tool lets users view all product types or segment them by category such as clothing, shoes, bags, and beauty.

6. TweetWall: Zappos products are being tweeted all day long, and to help shoppers tap into this excitement, Zappos created the TweetWall. This virtual wall is a visual collection of Zappos products that people are tweeting about alongside the tweet and the name and photo of the Twitter user.

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