Zappos Executive Jeff Espersen Will Headline This Week’s FN “Leading in a Crisis” Webinar

As stores across the U.S. prepare to re-open, both retailers and consumers are grappling with what the new retail landscape will look like. The newest installment of FN’s webinar series, “Leading in a Crisis,” will explore what this reality means for the industry.

Jeff Espersen, general manager and chief merchant for Zappos.com, will join FN Editorial Director Michael Atmore on Wednesday May 13, for a conversation on “The New Retail Reality.” The webinar, which is presented by FDRA, will take place at 3:30 p.m. EST and cover how Zappos is navigating the crisis, as well as shifting consumer trends.

Zappos has dealt with significant transformation before: the company has eliminated its traditional corporate hierarchy. Speaking at the FN CEO Summit last May, Espersen described the decision to embrace holacracy as “a huge learning curve for the whole company.” The retailer will be able to draw on that experience when addressing the impacts of COVID-19, on both the company and the broader retail landscape.

Prior to the pandemic, Zappos had introduced a number of new initiatives as part of its 2019 business strategy. These ranged from a pet adoption campaign in partnership with the Best Friends Animal Society, to collaborations with Roc Nation partners like NFL player Ronnie Stanley.

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Most recently, the company has doubled down on its commitment customer service, something the retailer is known for. In April, Zappos set up a coronavirus hotline for its customers, to field questions about anything pandemic related – no purchase necessary. During the webinar, Espersen will discuss its increased importance in this moment of change for the industry.

Drawing on the retailer’s insight into the market, product trends and spending shifts will also be examined. (Zappos celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2019.)

Zappos Jeff Espersen
Jeff Espersen, GM and head of merchandising at Zappos.
CREDIT: PATRICK GRAY

Espersen himself also has a wealth of industry knowledge — he held stints at Nordstrom and DSW before his tenure at Zappos.com.

Previous episodes of the FN webinar series have featured Foot Locker president and CEO Dick Johnson; Deckers president and CEO Dave Powers; and most recently Jennifer Estabrook, president of Fila North America, and David Sykes, head of Klarna US.

In the first episode, Foot Locker’s Johnson spoke about how retail will adapt in the aftermath of the coronavirus, anticipating a shift in the physical store experience in particular. Powers commented on the importance of preparing for both the long- and short-term, as Deckers Brands tries to emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever.

The latest installment saw Estabrook and Sykes discussing shifting consumer behaviors and the need to prioritize business survival over shareholder profits. While some customers will be permanently converted to digital channels, both believe that there will be an enduring interest in the physical shopping experience.

This week’s conversation with Espersen will build on these insights, as the pandemic continues to evolve and the U.S. adjusts its advisories accordingly.

Tune in on May 13 at 3:30 p.m. for insights into the new retail reality, from Zappos.com’s Jeff Espersen. To register, click here.

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