Why Zappos Wants You to Know It Does Way More Than Just Sell Shoes

For the last 20 years, Zappos.com has cemented its reputation by offering top-notch customer service and fast delivery of shoes.

But much like its Las Vegas home, which created one of the most memorable ad slogans to attract tourists to the city, Zappos thinks it can do a better job of messaging the side of its business the general public doesn’t know about: philanthropy.

“People don’t know everything we do,” Jeff Espersen, chief merchandising officer, said Monday at the FN CEO Summit in Miami. “We are starting to do more of that. We haven’t told our story like we should.”

FN CEO Summit
Jeff Espersen with FN features editor Jennie Bell at FN CEO Summit, May 6.
CREDIT: Johan Cruz

In recent years, through the company’s charitable arm, Zappos for Good, employees have given out thousands of holiday dinners, helped adopt more than 30,000 dogs and provided children with clothing, shoes and food, according to Espersen. It’s even worked with former NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal.

“Philanthropy is at the core of who we are,” he said. “In fact, our charity arm has the largest budget in the company.”

The Zappos for Good program is run by Steve Bautista. “When I started nine years ago, our only charity work was with Livestrong,” he told FN last month. “Since then, we’ve redone the way we do charity so it’s more focused on our community and making sure that employees are engaged in the process.”

Zappos has focused on both groups since it was founded two decades ago.

“We put company culture at the top of everything” said Espersen. “If we have happy employees, we have happy customers. We don’t do the things we do because it leads to more volume in terms of the selling of shoes and clothes. We do it because it is the right thing to do.”

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