The Zappos Adaptive Story | Zappos Adaptive
It All Started With a Phone Call.
In July 2014, a Zappos employee went through new-hiring training and took a call from a customer named Tonya who had received the wrong size shoes. The shoes that Tonya ordered were adult-sized sneakers that had a hook and loop closure instead of traditional shoelaces. The employee apologized for sending the wrong size and tried to replace them for her, but he had no luck.. The size she wanted simply wasn’t available, and despite his search efforts on our website, he couldn’t find a similar replacement.
When the employee relayed the news with Tonya, she seemed rather frustrated and shared that the shoes were for her grandson, Gabriel, who has autism and was unable to tie his own shoelaces. Now that he was getting older and his feet were getting bigger, it was more difficult to find cool-looking athletic shoes without laces.
The employee told her that he would jot down some notes and see what he could do. In the meantime, he told Tonya to keep the shoes and donate them to someone else who could use them.
"I am honored and so proud that we still have companies who care about changing lives, and that put their customers and employees first above the bottom line."
- Tonya Richardson, grandmother of Gabriel, and the inspiration behind Zappos Adaptive
That call made a lasting impression on our employee, and he vowed to do something about it. Following several months of immersive research, education, and talking with families and people with disabilities, he recognized that there was a huge gap when it came to clothing and footwear that could help make getting dressed easier. He then helped create a team dedicated to sourcing products that are functional, fashionable, and meet all types of needs.
We officially launched the Zappos Adaptive website in April 2017 with just two new brands, and—based on our understanding of the various needs—we were able to curate clothing and shoes that were already available on the Zappos website. We have since added Nike FlyEase, Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive, BILLY Footwear and several more brands that have innovative products that meet the needs of our customers with disabilities.
We listen to feedback, read customer reviews, speak with people with disabilities at events like the Abilities Expo, research continuously, work with experts like our Advisory Council, and we conduct focus groups to learn what people need. Although we don’t currently manufacture our own clothing and footwear, we work closely with our brands to share what we learn about customer needs so they can develop products that work for more and more people. We then bring these products together in one place for an easy shopping experience.
Today we offer a broad assortment of easy-on/off shoes, sensory-friendly clothing, reversible shirts and pants, clothing with magnetic fasteners, post-surgical clothing, diabetic shoes, and more.
Although we still have a long way to go, Zappos Adaptive aims to connect people with products that make life easier.