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Taking inspiration from rock stars throughout history, Zappos has decided to haul a 40-foot shipping container around the country to host massive shows for its fans. There might not be as many guitars, but the metaphorical link is clear.

In this road show, Zappos is the band: beloved and appreciated, but sometimes seeming quite distant from people’s everyday lives. Because it is solely an online entity, Zappos worries that its customers struggle to connect with it, in the same way they might interact with physical retailers that allow them to touch and feel the products for sale. It is embracing a rock-n-roll, slightly risqué image, calling the tour the “Friends with Benefits Road Show” and asking local folks to come by to say hi.

Consumers are the fans, who can attend when the show comes to their hometown. In addition to the marquee attraction, they can listen to actual music from local bands, which Zappos will hire for each town it visits. Each stop also will feature local food offerings and “happy hour” offerings poured by the roadies—that is, the Zappos representatives.

Many concert tours feature sideshows or tents too, and here again, Zappos offers a parallel. But in this case, in line with the brand’s long-standing dedication to pet adoption, the road show will have animals from local shelters, available for people to take in to their loving homes. Zappos even will cover the adoption fees.

Thus the experience promises to be remarkably compelling. Zappos guarantees that there is no “catch”; visitors do not need to buy anything to be able to come and enjoy the music, drinks, and puppies. They can interact with Zappos representatives and peruse some exclusive merchandise, without even needing to buy a ticket. In turn, Zappos hopes to become the best loved b(r)and, now and into the future, for the fans that get a chance to know it in person.

Discussion Question:

  1. What is Zappos doing to connect with its customers?

Source: Glenn Taylor, Retail Wire, February 15, 2017