In Zappos We Trust – Interview with Fred Mossler

August 16, 2010

Fred Mossler, Zappos.com Inc., Executive

Fred Mossler, Zappos’ ‘No Title’ executive, photo courtesy of Zappos.com, Inc.

 

E-commerce giant, Zappos.com has become a trusted name for online consumers. We trust them to have a large selection of goods and brands. We trust them to ship our goodies incredibly fast to us. We trust them to take back those goodies that don’t work well on us via their extraordinary return policy. Now, it’s time to discover more about this game-changing company and further ways we can trust their extensive efforts to please us.

So many of us fantasize about getting lost in Zappos’ warehouse. Ever wonder who’s in charge of selecting all of those gorgeous shoes, clothing and assortment of accessories?

His name is Fred Mossler. In fact, he was one of the original pioneers of Zappos, Inc. and so has been steadfastly at the forefront of online retail as we have come to know it today. Most e-retailers actually look to the Zappos’ model for success and now offline businesses are seeking out and learning from this company’s success strategies too.

Since we also trust Zappos to be an innovative company across the board, it is no surprise that this former Senior VP of Merchandising was recently promoted to the position of “No Title”, so that he can simultaneously oversee a variety of departments. Just so you know, Zappos executives and employees tend to be humble when it comes to highlighting their individual accomplishments. It is a very team oriented business and this thinking stems from the top. So that you understand how vital he is, I am going to toot Mr. Mossler’s horn for him.

He is the vitality behind Zappos – a philosopher of style – a fashion visionary –and he is someone at a very important company who really gets it in terms of the emerging market of professional women and, as a result, steers the company towards helping her. Zappos doesn’t exploit fashion or its consumers; on the contrary, it takes the busy professional woman very seriously and hones daily its efforts to deliver quality goods and services. Fred Mossler is one of the few people who really gets it! He is ahead of his time which is so exciting; in fact, busy readers, my whole style philosophy is shared by him. And, now, we all have an opportunity to go behind-the-scenes with him at Zappos to find out more!

MOS: My readers are professional and entrepreneurial women who believe their philosophies and work ethic are conveyed visually as well as through action. In other words, they are a group that works hard, but also reaches for “just the right” exposure via the new technologies such as YouTube, video conferencing, and even rapidly expanding cable TV, in addition to personal appearances. I imagine this philosophy of “wearing the message” is something that is a no-brainer for you given your passion for good fashion. But would you tell us what drew you to your profession and how it feels to help deliver an image that is such an important part of your consumers’ lives?

Fred Mossler of Zappos: I always had a passion for fashion. Even as I was growing up, I was always concerned about my clothing and footwear. Most of my friends didn’t pay much attention to what they were wearing, but it was always top of mind for me. Naturally, my passion led me to retail and working summer jobs selling shoes while going to college. After college I went to work for Nordstrom and worked my way into buying. I think it was there that I really understood the concept of fashion as “wearing the message”.

It is very exciting to help consumers deliver an image in their own unique way. What is really fun about what we do is that we are able to help many different consumers help define their image. From high fashion to outdoor to contemporary, we try to put together the very best selection of brands and collections and help consumers really create the image that they want to convey.

MOS: What key things do you look for when putting together a Buyer’s List each season? (ie. Who decides the trends? Zappos is known to have excellent relationships with vendors.) How does this play a role? And, in what ways does the consumer fit into this plan?

Fred Mossler of Zappos: Our Buyers consider many different points of reference when putting together their lists. They constantly listen to feedback from customers through reviews, email and phone. They work closely with vendors to make sure we are covering the items and trends that the brands feel are going to be hot in the upcoming season. They also travel around the world and attend the shows and shop markets to make sure we are staying ahead of whatever is going on. The most important part of our team is that we hire buyers for their passion in a given category. If it is running, our team of buyers is out running marathons. If it is fashion, our team is attending runway shows and shopping boutiques in Europe and New York. The key is that they are all passionate about what they do and it shows up in the collections they put together on the site.

MOS: Thanks to Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh, and his new book, Delivering Happiness, word is starting to get out about Zappos’ Family Core Values. Can you give us an example of how these values fit into the merchandising process?

Fred Mossler of Zappos: I think the core values that resonate the most with the team are ‘Embrace and Drive Change’ and ‘Be Passionate and Determined’. Our teams need to be on the forefront of fashion and trends. They can’t get too attached to any particular style, fashion or color, because the trends are always changing. They also need to truly be passionate about their category and understand the merchandise and their customers.

MOS: In a recent interview on CBS Sunday Morning show, the camera observed one of your service reps on the phone with a customer who was searching for a pair of shoes that she saw on a celebrity. With very limited details provided by the frustrated customer, Zappos’ determined rep compassionately stated, “we will do it together”. This is exactly what my clientele are looking for in all of their endeavors and it was so exciting to see it in action. Did the idea to form a much valued partnership with your customer come from Zappos’ merchandisers? If so, kudos to you. The interaction conveyed dynamism, respect, and personal value to all of your clients.

Fred Mossler of Zappos: Everyone in our company is very service oriented. Anyone who joins the Zappos Family, from merchandisers, accountants and technology all go through four weeks of customer service training in our call center. Everyone knows it is their responsibility to deliver the very best customer experience in whatever their role. The merchants are highly focused on delivering a great experience through training in the call center. They have set up vendor days where the call center representatives get exposed to the products and brands. The merchants also communicate regularly with our call center representative to help assist with questions from the representatives.

Questions? Feedback? Comments for either Mr. Mossler or Corporate Fashionista (formerly MooreOnStyle)? Thank you to Fred Mossler for being willing to allow us an insider’s view of Zappos.com, one of today’s most significant online retailers and partners in helping the busy professional “wear her message.”

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  • Great read! I like how he points out about listening to customer feedback. I’m learning that even in my little blogging world it is important to listen and respond to readers comments and what they want from you.

  • Kristina Moore

    Thanks, Dana! Yes, Zappos.com takes customer service very seriously. They really want to help us. We can all learn from their passionate, innovative and successful relationship-building CS approaches.

  • Jenn

    I’m too busy for mistakes and delays. Hands down, Zappos is the best online shopping experience. Actually, I find it easier than actual stores. Plus 360-degree product views…large in-stock selection…uncomparable return policy…I still can’t figure out how they always ship so fast. It’s amazing! Count me in as a lifer. Thanks for the behind the scenes look!

  • Kristina Moore

    Jenn – Isn’t it amazing! They think of so many different ways to make it easier on us. I wonder what they will come up with next. 😉

  • Joy

    What a lovely interview! Now I know why I will always go to Zappos first. I also find it difficult with my busy schedule, if not next-to-impossible, to visit actual stores and, even then, the experience is too overwhelming to make a well thought out purchase.

  • Kristina Moore

    Joy – Thank you! Just like Zappos, you’re ahead of the curve. The benefits of online shopping are vast. It IS the future.

  • Kristina, Thanks for the interesting article on my model for customer service. I’m such a huge fan of Zappos! I’m convinced they have little fairies waiting outside my door just waiting for me to hit the “buy” button, because there is no other explanation for their lightning fast delivery! They are indeed my role model for customer and brand loyalty building. I shared this with my czelablue.com f.b. community. Great article! Great company!

  • Kristina Moore

    Jennifer – Thanks for sharing! Isn’t it great that we can find in Zappos an admirable business role model and a hot pair of shoes all at this one stop shop. 😉

  • Kelly

    I only shop for shoes on Zappos since I have a “large” pair of feet. Most stores don’t carry my size but Zappos does. I am easily able to navigate their website to find shoes that are high quality, fashionable and comfortable. More than anything, though, they have fantastic customer service and outstanding prices. Thank you for introducing me to the man who saves me hours of futile shopping!!

  • Kristina Moore

    Kelly – That’s great news! It was absolutely my pleasure! I think it really helps us consumers to trust a company, especially an online business, even more when we can see and get to know the people behind it. It makes us feel like we are part of that family. Zappos goes to great lengths to make us feel at home with them and Fred Mossler’s authentic responses was just another example of this company’s extended efforts. I am really happy you found the interview to be of value and that you have had such positive shopping experiences with Zappos! Shop on, girl!

  • Betty Wims

    Thank you for the article. Any day that I can purchase a pair of my favorite shoes and never leave the house is a great day! It is also great to hear that Zappos’ has earned the trust of their customers as an excellent trustworthy shopping experiences. For those that have never worn a pair of Onex shoes, your tootsies will love you and the compliments you receive are amazing. I don’t often support passing articles, websites, etc. on to our on-line families; however, your interview and Zappos are the exception.

  • Kristina Moore

    Betty – Thank you for taking the time to comment. We appreciate it very much! Really pleased that you enjoyed it. In case you were not aware, Zappos now makes it really easy for us consumers to find our favorite clothes, accessories and even houseware items online too in addition to shoes. It’s all available with just a few clicks. Have fun!