Apparel is a new and growing part of Zappos’ product mix, with clothing sales generating a larger share of the web-only shoe merchant’s sales each quarter, says Crysti Howser, director of operations and brand partnerships at Zappos.
In the last few years, Zappos has added hundreds of apparel brands to its ecommerce site and plans to significantly expand its apparel offerings in 2021, Howser says. Zappos first launched garments on its site in 2006 with New Balance. But only in the past few years did it start to meaningfully expand into clothing after hearing from shoppers that they want to purchase these items on Zappos.com.
“We are known for shoes, but in the last few years, our customer base has been asking for more and more clothing,” Howser says. “And we take our customer feedback very seriously.”
“Our loyal customer base wants to [purchase] their entire shopping cart on Zappos. They don’t want to jump from site to site, trying to get their outfit,” she adds. Zappos has gradually expanded its clothing merchandise over the past few years. It has no plans to launch its own clothing brand.
One of the latest brands to launch on Zappos.com is women’s apparel brand M.M.LaFleur. Zappos and M.M.LaFleur started their relationship in December 2020. Howser says it’s a “revenue-sharing relationship” that is similar to wholesale, in which Zappos purchases the M.M.LaFleur goods, warehouses them, and handles the shipping, returns and all customer service inquires for all of the M.M.LaFleur goods. On April 2021 Zappos launched dozens of M.M.LaFleur products for sale. The brand launch coincided with a giveback campaign focused on getting women professionals back to work.
The campaign is housed on a specific branded page on Zappos.com—which they call a microsite—at Zappos.com/e/mmlafleur-work-outfits. The campaign page features a collection of M.M.LaFleur outfits specific to professional women reentering the workforce after the pandemic, such as outfits women can wear for interviews on Zoom, their first day back at the office or for their transition back to the office from working at home, Howser says. The site also offers tips for job interviews over Zoom.
Zappos and M.M.LaFleur launched the campaign to highlight challenges working women faced during the pandemic, such as having to leave the workforce in higher numbers than men to care for at-home children, Zappos says. In addition, Zappos.com donated $25,000 to nonprofit organization Dress for Success Worldwide to go toward the organization’s programs to provide support and job development training to underserved women. Zappos also had a sweepstakes contest, in which consumers could nominate women in their lives who could use a new work wardrobe, and Zappos gave away $500 gift cards to 10 women.
So far, the giveback campaign has gone well, Howser says, with Zappos receiving positive messages from customers and non-customers about shining a light on the issue, she says without revealing any sales data. Zappos is measuring the success of the campaign based on customer engagement with the microsite and feedback on the products.
“Success is measured in a few ways,” Howser says. “It’s awareness and making sure both the general public and our customer base are aware that we are shining a light on this important initiative to get women in outfits and get them more comfortable and taking away the stress of returning to the workforce.”
Overall, workwear and event apparel, such as high heels, is “trending up” compared with 2020 levels but is by no means surging, Howser says. M.M.LaFleur declined to be interviewed for this article.
Even though shoppers could just purchase M.M.LaFleur products directly from the brand and not from Zappos.com, many shoppers may prefer to buy these garments on Zappos, Howser says. Shoppers may prefer the convenience of making a single purchase for multiple items across categories instead of purchasing shoes on Zappos and then a work outfit on MMLaFleur.com, she says. Plus, Zappos’ loyalty program members may want to take advantage of its generous return policy (365 days) and free shipping offer. In addition, Zappos may offer some M.M.LaFleur products that the brand is not currently offering, Howser says.
While M.M.LaFleur products have a higher price point than Zappos, Howser says its customers specifically asked Zappos to sell the M.M.LaFluer brand. Zappos is owned by Amazon.com Inc., No. 1 2021 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000, and M.M.LaFleur is No. 504.
Zappos plans to continue to sell M.M.LaFleur products, and its dedicated landing page about Zoom-friendly interview tips will likely change over time with other relevant content, she says.