Zappos goes up against Adidas and Nike with sneaker shops

(Author : Daphne Howland)
Zappos this week unveiled a retail concept it’s calling “The_ONES,” highlighting classic sneakers, with a dedicated website landing page at and pop-ups in the New York City area, according to a company press release. The pop-up locations include one designed by footwear guru Tarek Hassan at the Arlo Hotel in Manhattan, and another at the Brooklyn boutique Bird Brooklyn.

The online hub features interviews with sneaker icons like Stan Smith, original videos and illustrations, as well as features on artists, musicians, and makers who “live their lives in these shoes,” according to the release. The campaign also includes a shoppable Instagram, the company said.

For more than a decade, thanks to superb customer service and smooth logistics (including free shipping both ways), Zappos has helped acclimate American consumers to the especially tricky process of buying shoes online.

“Zappos single-handedly built consumer trust in online shoe sales and was so successful that Amazon spent $1.2 billion to buy the company in 2009,” Nathan Rigby, a partner at One Click Retail who leads sales and marketing, noted in a report emailed to Retail Dive.

That has allowed Zappos to avoid heavy discounting in an era where consumers are focused on deals, especially online. With the new campaign, Zappos is ramping up curation to help customers navigate its wide assortment. The concept will not be relegated to classic sneaker curation, but will also serve as a launching pad for future collaborations and exclusives, the company said.

“The launch of The_ONES marks the beginning of a new era of sneakerhead,” Jeff Espersen, Zappos’ VP of merchandising, said in a statement. “From the passionate collector to the casual street-chic fashionista, there’s an underserved consumer who loves the closet classics as much as we do. The_ONES is our way of bringing inclusivity back to the sneaker community and celebrating the shoes we reach for time and time again.”

Along with the sneaker and concept launch, Zappos has unveiled renewed efforts within its Zappos for Good charitable arm, including donations of new and used footwear worldwide, animal advocacy and adoption, and environmental advocacy and sustainable businesses practices, the company said in a press release.

The brand is also well known for its customer service — and that is amplified in its new video series. The videos highlight a young girl who refuses to wear traditional ballet slippers to her recital, a husband who flubs a request from his wife and burly men unsure about their significant others’ admiration of a flexible dude from yoga class — all situations made better in the end by Zappos’ customer service.

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