Coster A Step Ahead - Coster, A Step Ahead, Forbes, June...

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Coster, A Step Ahead, Forbes, June 2008. http://www.forbes.com/global/2008/0602/064_print.html “A Step Ahead.” By Helen Coster Zappos' Tony C. Hsieh doesn't know a darn thing about shoes. But he knows how to sell them. Look out, Amazon Strolling into a big lower Manhattan shoe store, Tony C. Hsieh is horrified by its bored-looking employees and deafening hip-hop music. None of the six salesfolk make a move to assist Hsieh, 34, even when he picks up a brown men's sandal. "I have no idea what makes this stylish or how it's different from anything else here," he says. Hsieh is chief executive of Zappos.com, a U.S. online shoe vendor with an inventory of 4 million shoes in 200,000 styles from 1,200 shoemakers, including Bruno Magli, Nike and Ugg. Even so, he says he knows very little about the products he sells. What he does know is customer service, something missing in the Manhattan store but a Zappos hallmark, and one that may help it sell more than footwear. The privately held Las Vegas company (whose name comes from the Spanish word for shoe) gets raves from shoe lovers for its fast, free shipping--90% of orders arrive the next business day--and a 365-day return policy that allows footwear fans to order a bunch of shoes, try them on and return those that don't suit or fit. Three-quarters of sales are from repeat customers. Zappos keeps its inventory handy in two warehouses, totaling 1 million square feet, in
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Coster A Step Ahead - Coster, A Step Ahead, Forbes, June...

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