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Zappos focuses on personalization, seamless transactions via app update

The update is rolling out across Zappos’ iPhone and iPad app and includes features that are both aimed at acquiring new shoppers and retaining existent users. Zappos has been building up its mobile presence in the past few years.

“Out of our new features, the one we are particularly excited about is the new recommendations engine,” said Aki Iida, head of mobile at Zappos, Las Vegas, NV.

“This is our first step in using Amazon’s recommendation technology within our apps, which will enable us to build even more new features and great shopping experiences for our customers going forward,” he said.

Mobile shoes
The new Zappos app integrates Pinterest to let consumers share their favorite products to friends and family.

Users can share individual products by clicking a large button in the top right-hand corner of the app. From there, consumers are prompted to either download the Pinterest app or the app automatically opens if it already downloaded to pin an item to a board.

Recommendations have also been updated along the bottom of the app. Recommended products are grouped into four different categories.

The first set of recommendations is based on other items that consumers who bought the product also purchased. The second and third groups of products are based on items that consumers might also like and the fourth section shows products that were viewed in conjunction with the product.

The app detects when a particular item that a consumer is looking for is out of stock. The item can then be added to a user’s favorites section and the user will be notified when the item is back in stock.

As consumers add items to their shopping carts, cats fly across the screen to make the shopping experience more fun for consumers. With the update, dogs and robot characters are also included.

Consumers can also send gift cards via the app now. Gift cards are available for $25, $50, $100, $250 and $500 and can be personalized with a message when they are sent.

The updated app also has a few new sections to make it easier for repeat shoppers to find items and checkout quickly.

For example, the app is updated to let users set their shipping address and primary billing information to streamline the checkout experience.

The order history section also now includes a stack of product pictures that consumers have bought in the past. Users can then tap on the stack to quickly find an item that they purchased in the past.

The app features are planned to be rolled out to the Zappos Android app in the near future, according to Mr. Iiada.

“Based on the feedback we’ve received from customers, the videos and product images within the app are very helpful as they provide additional information and insight into the specifics of the product such as texture and quality,” Mr. Iiada said.

“Because of this, we’re always trying to figure out ways let users get to that type of content as quickly as possible,” he said.

“The arrangement of content, and the type of content that we display within the app is something we are continuing to focus on.”

Building a brand
Zappos has been in the mobile space for quite some time.

Last year for example the retailer ran a mobile advertising campaign that encouraged consumers to create their own spring looks that they could then shop from (see story).

Additionally, the company launched an interactive iPad app that adds editorial content to product information that consumers could shop from in 2011 (see story).

“Zappos has pioneered the digital customer service model – they are like the Nordstrom’s of online shopping,” said Alex Kutsishin, director of business development at FiddleFly, Columbia, MD.

Mr. Kutsishin is not affiliated with Zappos. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

“Personalization and friendliness is in the Zappos DNA,” he said. “If they don’t nail it in mobile, their customers will feel like they are dealing with a bipolar organization.

Mobile devices, specifically smartphones are the most personal piece of technology in human history. We trust them like we trust our own family. Lose your customers trust here and you may lose your customer all together. Build a great relationship in mobile and you may have gained a customer for life. If Zappos can’t figure out the right strategy for mobile they will end up alienating their customers.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York