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International day of happiness: the inspiring case of Zappos

To celebrate the International Day of Happiness, which takes place on the 20th of March, let’s talk about Zappos, a company that puts the happiness of its customers, employees and suppliers at the core of its strategy.

Zappos is an American company that sells shoes, clothing, handbags, and accessories online. Founded by Tony Hsieh in 1999 and acquired by Amazon in 2009, it now generates over 1 billion dollars in annual sales and has 1,500 employees.

Zappos is famous for offering one of the best employee and customer experiences in the world. Since the beginning, the company has focused on building a strong company culture and delivering a WOW experience to its customers.

Company culture can be defined as an organization’s set of shared values, goals, attitudes, and practices. Zappos’ overall aim is to foster a culture that delivers happiness to its customers, employees, suppliers, and shareholders alike.

Zappos’ 10 core values, as defined by its own employees in 2005, are:

  1. Deliver WOW Through Service

  2. Embrace and Drive Change

  3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness

  4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded

  5. Pursue Growth and Learning

  6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication

  7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit

  8. Do More With Less

  9. Be Passionate and Determined

  10. Be Humble

These 10 values are more than just words for the company–they're a way of life! They are at the core of all Zappos’ actions, from corporate-level decision making to interacting with employees, customers, suppliers and surrounding communities.

Zappos’ culture prioritizes happiness for both customers and stakeholders. The company turned this culture into a real brand, and the proof of its success is demonstrated through the happy employees and customers who now serve as brand ambassadors.

Because Zappos is such a consumer-oriented company, it offers industry-leading customer service to enhance satisfaction. For example, Zappos was one of the first online retailers to offer free next-day shipping and returns. Its call center is open 24/7, and customers are encouraged to call with any concern, or even just to have a chat (some customers have even tried to order a pizza through the customer service center, and it worked!).

Lesson for other companies

A company’s success is closely tied to its culture, so make sure to create a culture that you believe in. When your employees feel like they are part of a family, they will be motivated to work harder in order to fulfill their commitment to their team. And as Tony Hsieh advises, look beyond skills and experience alone and hire people you would happily go for a drink with!

If you want to learn more about Zappos’ journey, I highly recommend reading Tony Hsieh’s bestseller Zappos: Delivering Happiness.


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