Dear Zappos: Have You Sold Out?

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Dear Zappos,

I love you.

Have since the first time you gave me exactly what I asked for, only hours after I’d asked for it. I’ve known pets to be as responsive, sometimes new love interests, but never a retailer. But you, Zappos, you were different. You amazed and delighted me in ways I didn’t realize a retailer could.

You heard what I wasn’t saying.

I’m not a big shopper. I prefer the immediacy of Web retail to the dizzying effects of rows and rows of shoes on racks in a blindingly lit department store. I don’t look good in that light. I need fresh air. Time to think. All of which is denied me when I have to go into a store. I don’t do well when forced to shop indoors.

And somehow you understood this.

And now you’ve been bought.
And I’m left wondering what this means. I hear promises that your culture of knowing me will be preserved. I read Tony’s letter, and I believe it, I do:

The Zappos brand will continue to be separate from the Amazon brand. Although we’ll have access to many of Amazon’s resources, we need to continue to build our brand and our culture just as we always have. Our mission remains the same: delivering happiness to all of our stakeholders, including our employees, our customers, and our vendors. (As a side note, we plan to continue to maintain the relationships that we have with our vendors ourselves, and Amazon will continue to maintain the relationships that they have with their vendors.)

I trust that you will continue to “deliver happiness” to me. After all, Zappos, you’ve given me no reason to doubt you.

But we’ve heard this before, right?

The promise that nothing will change. That we’re all in this together. That the buyer will preserve the seller. But it doesn’t always turn out that way.

When Unilever bought Ben & Jerry’s, I felt the change. I missed the concerts, the tie-dye and the sightings of the bearded duo. And the company felt it too. Unilever assured us that Ben & Jerry’s tradition of social mission would be preserved. And then the Eco-Pint was discontinued.

I know shoes to pints is not a fair comparison. But it gives me pause.

Will you keep your promise? Or should I lace up my walking shoes?

— Kathleen





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