It Gets Better: Zappos Tops Itself with #AskZappos Personal Shopping Assistant


Zappos is once again testing the outer limits of customer service by introducing AskZappos, a digital assistant that will locate any item—even if the company doesn’t sell it. 

In beta since June, the service is now being promoted on the brand’s mobile homepage. It’s the latest from Zappos Labs, so much a part of the company’s ethos that every employee trains for one month at the Las Vegas call center to ensure they understand the entire e-commerce process. To use AskZappos, consumers can text, email or tag a photo with #AskZappos on Instagram to activate the personal shopping assistant. 

“It’s really easy to create those amazing experiences on the phone, but that’s really hard to do online,” said Zappos Labs Director Will Young, referring to the brand’s all-star customer service reputation for its website. But with hopes of engaging customers in new ways, Zappos is looking to capture increasing desktop e-commerce traffic so consumers can shop and have questions answered without ever picking up the phone.[more]

Created in just 12 weeks and run by a small team, Zappos hopes to add image recognition to automate a portion of the process, though stylists are still key to its success.

“Close enough isn’t good enough,” product manager Adam Goldstein told CNET, referencing the important role that stylists play since software sometimes struggles to identify textures or logos. “If we wanted close enough, they could just go to Google Image search. It’s not just wow the customer and give them a good experience. What’s the cherry on top? That is hard to do online because it’s so personal.”

Zappos Labs, which is meant to “to explore the future of retail and build new things that are the next generation of retail experiences,” is also working on a curated digital magazine which includes personal style recommendations based on Instagram posts and Pinterest pins. 

“For everything we do in Labs—obviously if it generates sales, great— but most importantly, we learn about the way people behave,” added Young. “We’re not trying to build a billion dollars off this, we’re just trying to build a great service that our customers will talk about.” 

—Sheila is a New York-based writer/producer, co-founder of Third Eye Media and an avid believer in the power of the media for change. Connect with her on Twitter: @srshayon