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May 31, 2010#

Zappos Founder Speaks About the Importance of Brand Focus

Tony Hsieh, Zappos’ founder and CEO, truly understands and values the power of focus.  He also knows that a business needs to stand for something important in the minds of customers and employees alike if it’s to flourish,  and that this sometimes requires giving things up – especially those things that are not consistent and supportive of the company vision, purpose and positioning.    

Here are Mr. Hsieh’s own inspiring words on the subject from an interview in the May 31- June 6 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek.

“We asked ourselves what we wanted the company to stand for.  We didn’t want to sell just shoes.  I wasn’t even into shoes—I used to wear a pair with holes in them—but I was passionate about customer service.  I wanted us to have a whole company built around it, and we couldn’t control the customer experience when a quarter of the inventory was out of control.

“We knew we had to stop doing drop shipping.  It was as if it were a drug.  Over the long term, it was critical that we were handling the merchandise ourselves.  This was the toughest decision I’ve had to make.  We couldn’t build a brand around customer service if we couldn’t deliver it.  When we had the goods in our control, we were able to do so much more.

“Once we made that decision, all the other decisions became easy.  We had already given up a lot, but we knew what we stood for at that point, and our employees could see that we were serious about this.  That made all the difference.”