February 12, 2009, 12:00 AM

For Zappos, the next trend is more customized pages for customers

Zappos.com, which surpassed $1 billion in gross merchandise sales last year on its reputation for customer service, plans to fuel the next stage of its growth by offering web pages that customers can customize to their preferences, the retailer says.

Zappos.com, which surpassed $1 billion in gross merchandise sales last year after a decade of building a reputation for customer service, plans to fuel the next stage of its growth by offering web pages that customers can customize to their preferences, the retailer says.

“People now say ‘Wow’ about our customer service, but we want them to say ‘Wow’ about our web site,” says Brian Kalma, director of user experience, who’s overseeing the new site design.

Using in-house technology and developers, Zappos plans to launch later this year a new site that will offer customers a direct hand in personalizing their pages, Kalma says. In addition to seeing merchandise displays tied to an automated recommendations engine and based on past shopping behavior, shoppers will also be able to rearrange how they view content by category and style, he adds.

“We see an opportunity for customers to create their own experience on Zappos,” Kalma says. “When you come to our site, you can determine what you want to see.”

The high degree of customization will also support Zappos.com’s expansion in recent years from selling only shoes to also offering apparel and accessories. The change will coincide with a new merchandising strategy to present complete outfits taken from its multiple product categories, Kalma says.

Zappos will incorporate more social networking into its product pages, making it easier for shoppers to share information with friends through networks like Twitter and Facebook, he adds. At the same time, it’s encouraging all of its employees to share information on social networks and to develop their own product videos to share with customers on Zappos.com.

“This all allows us to create a better emotional connection with customers,” Kalma says.

Zappos is No. 27 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

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