The new Zappos VIP , a tier added to the popular online shoe and apparel store, is definitely all about status. It was first launched back in 2008, touting “Free overnight shipping ’til the cows come home.” and “Bragging Rights! Make everyone else jealous, one order at a time.” VIP members are also privy to expedited returns and a separate customer service phone line. Zappos has been famous for sometime for their free shipping (standard mail), wide selection and incredible customer service.
Members also earn points for purchases that can put you at the top of the VIP leaderboard. Choose from a selection of avatars to represent you on the site. Zappos admits in the FAQ that the points serve no purpose outside of leaderboards but suggests that the game will build over time “Keep playing and see what happens next!”
Are these elements enough to keep people engaged? Clearly Zappos is still in the preliminary building stages of its new gamified system and is enjoying teasing members with promises of more goodies along the way. The fact that they’re able to earn points towards these mysteries actually helps to build anticipation. Once whatever-it-is launches, players will already be well on their way towards the goal, rather than having to start from scratch. It seems that keeping things slightly out of reach is a big driver for the success of the VIP program. The only way to gain VIP status is to already know about it. You have to be invited or request membership, either via email or by phone, often being subjected to a months long waiting list. Will all that waiting eventually pay off? It’s hard to say, but in the meantime VIP members are enjoying a slight upgrade in perks while continuing to use a service they already loved. Seems like everyone wins in the end.